Founder of ft'work, a not-for-profit company with a strong ambition – to create thriving communities and to ensure that clear social principles underpin all new development. www.ftwork.co.uk
I absolutely support Patricia Brown’s comments as they’ve been reported here, so won’t repeat them. We vastly undervalue what communities can add to regeneration, development and planning processes. But that conversation has to start early, before lines are put on paper and around sites, and must lead to a shared vision.
I don’t see any of this as ‘soft’, though. It makes hard common sense and has a firm evidence base for generating social sustainability.
This will be a crucial appointment because the local design codes and 'stewardship' model proposed by the BBBBC present a real opportunity to ensure proper and consistent community engagement – in devising local plans and in development proposals. Only seriously committed and suitably qualified teams need apply!
AJ, why don't you have a regular slot to feature practices and individuals, like Kyriaki Pouangare and Fuel our Frontline, that have launched ideas with different communities in response to the pandemic. Given that architects work collaboratively, with many different providers and social groups, we have the skills and potential for this kind of social innovation. Let's build on and sustain the great ideas for mutual support that have helped create a sense of community in a time of crisis. Social sustainability is one of the 3 key UN sustainability goals underpinning our planning legislation. This is not an add-on – it's fundamental to what being and architect is all about.
‘Moral’ is a slippery word. What does it mean in this context? Does it mean ‘do the right thing?’ And who says what the right thing is, particularly as regards addressing the ‘social divide’ that Jonas Lencer refers to (then omits to mention again)?
A ‘moral code’ is a collective responsibility, something that only has meaning if we all buy into it. If you have any doubt, consider how difficult it’s been for the medical profession to ration the use of ventilators – even with the Hippocratic Oath which includes: ‘above all, I must not play at God’ and, also, “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings”.
If we’re going to address the social divides - like health inequalities - that the pandemic has laid bare then let’s, as a profession, commit to two things:
• a set of social design principles: that build on the potential for mutual support and community cohesion that's being revealed; that have at their root a collaborative way of working that responds to people’s needs and wishes; that commit to valuing and bringing value to communities
• and to redefine the social role of the profession, through the education and training of all built environment practitioners
So what’s my moral takeaway from coronavirus? That we need to find a new balance between purpose, theory and practice.
The ARB "will also look at how the architectural syllabus might change"?
Yes. Now the is the time for the social purpose of the profession to become a fundamental part of an architect's education. Social sustainability must no longer be the poor relation to environmental sustainability. We are learning that lesson right now!