Today, many architects are looking into how architectural design can address the main issues of the time, such as social and economic inequality. They understand that patterns of land use and ownership, the layout of our cities and suburbs, and the style of our homes and their interiors contribute to perpetuating injustices based on money, race, gender, and physical ability.

Cohousing with communal areas, schools in underserved areas with healthcare services integrated, facilities without barriers for disabled veterans, communities where vacant ground-floor retail spaces are converted for community services, and cooperative solar energy systems are a few examples of projects that enhance social equity through architectural design.

Equitable Architecture

A developing area of socially responsible architectural practice is equitable architecture, defined as an architectural design that accords all users’ equality while considering their diversity.

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Social equity-Housing for Equity and Well Being”_©HKS Architects

Equitable architecture recognises how previous iterations of architecture and interior design have not met the needs of people of various socioeconomic statuses, physical abilities, genders, family structures, sexual orientations, and gender expressions. It focuses on developing equitable and affordable housing, safe and secure neighbourhoods, and hospitable public areas.

Redefining “home” may affect Social Equity

Redesigning the places where people live is a potent method to enhance the well-being of individuals and communities because housing makes up most of our built environment

For architects and interior designers, this divergence between buildings and society offers chances to reinvent cities and housing. More equitable housing solutions may result from understanding what “home” genuinely means to many people. More diversified residents are drawn to different housing types.

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Social equity-“Home for Equity”_©MOOi Architecture

More and more architects are looking into new residential architectural models that consider how we live in the 21st century rather than continuing to create identical single-family homes. Diverse housing options can guarantee a city’s vitality by providing homes for people of different socioeconomic statuses, cultures, and household types.

Adhering to the universal design tenets is another method for achieving social equity through interior and architectural design. According to the universal design ethos, making products and spaces inclusive of and accessible to everyone leads to better design for all users. All different types of bodies and abilities can be accommodated through universal design, which is fair, adaptable, and intuitive.

Designing Buildings to Promote Social Fairness | Social equity

Today’s architecture and interior design students are committed to using their education to advance social justice objectives. They are reconsidering how the built environment might be created to benefit all of us, especially historically marginalised people, from the macro size of regional planning to the tiny scale of furniture design.

I can handle equity issues in design and architecture on various levels. First, in terms of the profession and the workplace, concerns like racial equality, the accomplishments of black architects, gender equality and the role of women in the sector. The second issue is spatial equity, which is highly particular to these fields of study. As a result, the principles of equity in our areas are best realised through architecture, urban planning, and design.

Promoting equitable possibilities to use the city is the same goal of equity in urban planning. Urban mobility is a case in point since a lack of transit may restrict people’s ability to move around and, as a result, their opportunity to engage in or participate in particular activities. The Metrocable in Medellin, Colombia, a system of cable cars with reasonable tariffs that allowed the inhabitants in the steep outskirts to be integrated with the rest of the city, is an example of a practical urban plan of equal mobility.

Cities are the result of decisions made by people. We choose how to organise urban and suburban areas, what structures to erect and their purposes, where to put our buildings and how to position them, how people will access them, how to supply them with water and electricity, and which groups of people they will be used by.

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Social equity-” Sustainability in Equity”_ ©Metropolis

Typically, this process is haphazard and heavily influenced by dominant social and economic forces. Profit is frequently the main driving force. Developers aim to build swiftly and inexpensively, minimise expenditures, and maximise the space that can be rented out or sold to generate as much money as possible.

Instead, the primary architectural goal is human-centred. In that case, design solutions are intended to create wholesome relationships between people and structures in a way that meets the neighbourhood’s needs. A large civic structure, like a museum or theatre, will be built differently than an apartment block or a store.

Most of us consider buildings practical and give them a specific value, frequently ignoring the possibility that others may feel differently about them or not at all, depending on how people are assisted, disregarded, or damaged. But every structure, whether public or private, takes up space in our city, catches our eye, and either meets or falls short of our needs and desires. Buildings can both cause and remedy problems.

In recent years, some people in charge of creating the built environment have been considering how architects can support social justice and respect historically marginalised cultural traditions and identities.

Creating Fair Urban Spaces 

Only when all of its users or members are permitted to use urban amenities in their true identities without worrying about compromised, safety can an urban community’s purpose be successfully attained. To create hospitable spaces like inexpensive housing and healthcare facilities, urban architecture must embrace these disparities. Regrettably, the absence of such spaces would only deprive marginalised populations of access to the most basic amenities.

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Social equity-”Urban Spaces for All”_ ©hejustudio

Architects and urban planners must relearn societal conceptions to create inclusive environments that promote equitable social interactions. Any professional who designs built environments has a heavy-duty to create inclusive spaces, which empowers them to make an informed decision to redesign social structures and actively participate in compelling socio-political movements centred on marginalised identities.

References:

  1. Ghisleni, C. (2021) What is equity in Architecture and Design?, ArchDaily. ArchDaily. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/971086/what-is-equity-in-architecture-and-design (Accessed: May 1, 2023). 
  2. How architectural design can improve social equity (no date) CCA. Available at: https://www.cca.edu/newsroom/architectural-design-improves-social-equity/#:~:text=Examples%20of%20projects%20that%20improve,floor%20retail%20spaces%20are%20repurposed (Accessed: May 1, 2023). 
  3. Parkeraparker@postandcourier.com, A. et al. (2022) How architects can design buildings with social justice in mind, Post and Courier. Available at: https://www.postandcourier.com/features/how-architects-can-design-buildings-with-social-justice-in-mind/article_909d2bb6-5a1a-11ed-a94b-57a83a652310.html (Accessed: May 1, 2023). 
Author

Liyana Lajudheen is an ardent reader and a film enthusiast. Currently pursuing architecture in India, she is keen on travelling and would like to explore different cultures. Though she treads lightly on the technical aspects, she is a vivid imaginer and can go places in just a flick of a moment.