Constructing Community: Synthesizing Lay and Professional Knowledge in Architecture

Ivett, Lee orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4287-6145 and Gillick, Ambrose (2016) Constructing Community: Synthesizing Lay and Professional Knowledge in Architecture. In: AMPS Liverpool 2016 Government and Housing in a Time of Crisis: Policy, Planning, Design and Delivery, 08- 09 September 2016, Liverpool.

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Architectural development practices for marginal communities have, in recent decades, sought to mediate conflicts between donors and recipients through participatory design exercises. These have been undertaken with the intention of developing greater reciprocity between parties and within communities, better "fit" between product and user needs, as well as the promotion of broader democratic concerns, in pursuit of a more responsive built environment, in line with pluralist agendas. In short, participation is seen to promote political representation and further to concretize it in the built fabric of settlements, building in local identities and establishing physical spaces for communal discourse. The value of participation as a strategy has, however, been challenged in recent years with the suggestion that, in contrast to the rhetoric, "there is little evidence of the long-term effectiveness of participation in materially improving the conditions of the most vulnerable people" (Cleaver 1999). This constitutes a real issue for architecture, which has had until recently few alternative tools to ensure meaningful "user" representation in the design and construction of housing.
This paper describes the work of Baxendale, a multi-disciplinary architecture and design company based in Glasgow, Scotland, which practises alternative models of urban development towards addressing this problem, engaging community, local and state actors in iterative and needs-centred design and production processes. Looking at case study projects, this paper describes how synergistic processes of design and production can be used to mediate between competing interests in urban development towards producing inherently pluralistic, networked and empowering urban environments.

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