a socially conscious architectural practice.
we prioritize the social impact of design solutions rather than the product.
the aim is to create designs that address social issues, promote equity, and improve the quality of life for individuals and communities.
what is social consciousness in design?
The term ‘socially conscious’ refers to an individual or group's awareness and concern for social issues affecting their community, society, or the world. It implies actively understanding and addressing these issues through personal actions or advocacy. Being socially conscious means being aware of the impact of one's actions on others and the environment and taking responsibility for making a positive difference in the world. This includes issues such as poverty, inequality, social justice, environmental sustainability, human rights, and ethical business practices.
Margaret Smolker and Silvia Lanza wrote that socially conscious design is “Expanding a tradition of design practice called 'social architecture' to encompass a form of global practice with humanitarian and social entrepreneurial aims.”
In architectural design, social consciousness can manifest in multiple ways, from consciously choosing to work with clients who generally cannot afford to hire an architect or using locally sourced materials or design strategies that reduce wastage and mitigate the environmental impact, or ensuring decent living conditions for laborers on construction site or consciously giving preference to female laborers in order to provide them with a livelihood.
Why social consciousness in design?
India has been facing several social and environmental challenges, such as the caste system, gender inequality, poverty, religious conflicts, access to quality education, healthcare, corruption, environmental degradation, migration, and urbanization for a long time. But many of these issues have become aggravated today due to the complex interplay of economic, political, cultural, and environmental factors.
The question one might ask is what architecture can do to solve these problems. Just because these sociological issues are governed by multiple factors, it does not mean that the built environment cannot aid in solving these problems. Architecture might not be able to solve the problems alone, but it can bring a positive change in society because, after all, the creation of space is a social act.
Should architectural practices take up the burdens of combatting elitism or indulging in only ‘social’ realm projects? What is the need for it- this is a question most students and even practitioners ask. Well, the simple answer is that it is all about choices, and if one wishes to create architecture to boost their ego or earn fame or money by any means possible, then one might carry on. But one must not forget that architecture holds power to bring immense change, and no small project is insignificant and can become the precursor of that change one wishes to see.
Numerous artistic movements have been initiated in response to social injustice and inequity. The purpose of art extends beyond merely showcasing the creative talents of an artist; it also seeks to reveal the hidden realities of society. Art exposes truths that may be overlooked or deliberately ignored, thereby raising awareness among communities about social issues. Architecture serves as the social conscience that follows this process by identifying and proposing solutions to the problems that have been identified. Art provides a cultural tool to help humanize and express emotions and grievances, while architectural interventions transform these emotions into tangible forms that can be experienced by both inhabitants and users. Through visionary thinking, art inspires us to take action, and architectural design is the manifestation of that action.
HOW social consciousness in design?
Environmentally responsible architecture
Cultural transformation through the built environment
is the use of architecture (and urban design) to promote social change by transforming cultural norms, values, and behaviors. This involves designing buildings and infrastructure that promote social justice, equity, sustainability, and a sense of community. It is an ongoing process that requires collaboration and engagement with communities and stakeholders. The built environment can become a catalyst for cultural change by creating inclusive and accessible spaces that reflect and support the needs and aspirations of the people who inhabit them.