The interactivity of all elements in an environment is one intentional goal architects pursue in every design. Social architecture is one for the people. It is a process of building an interactive culture amongst people using places. It is an architecture towards humanity. Social architecture is an all-inclusive approach to sustainability that highlights communal spaces, behaviours, and how design affects them. It involves the understanding between human thoughts, feelings, and actions, and more importantly, the interconnectivity between people, places, and activities.
Relevance of Social Architecture
The concept of social architecture stems from several established disciplines such as political science, psychology, sociology, economics, and anthropology, but architecture approaches it from a non-academic point but rather an applicative point that integrates those thought processes:
- To understand people’s needs and feelings and provide a holistic response.
- To enhance the built quality is to make the structure or space socially efficient.
- Creating a sense of resilience between different user groups is the main goal of socially defined architecture.
- To establish social impact through improved neighbourhoods, social inclusion, and cohesiveness.
- To build bridges amongst people of varying characters, behaviours, social class, and pedigree.
In summary, Social architecture is a revolution to maximise human interactions and productivity in communal settings. Key elements to achieving the aims of social architecture are:
- Activity and
Social Architectural Projects
Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Centre, China | Social Architecture
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and known as the big flower with steel petals, the centre rises amid an artificial lake with landscapes that are part of the city’s initiatives for natural permeation. Socially, the project is set to be a hub of contemporary creativity, with provisions for four separate cultural institutions. The concept of the Civic Art Centre is to create a new cultural destination for not only the Jinwan district but the whole city of Zhuhai. The arts centre combines a theatre, art gallery, science museum, and multi-function hall. The roof is the most distinguishing element of the centre.
Beijing Sub-Centre Library, China
The new Beijing sub-centre library offers a contemporary yet timeless space for learning, knowledge sharing, and open discussions, as well as celebrating the region’s cultural richness. Known as a forest of knowledge, the library was designed to celebrate a public space for learning, information exchange, and open discussions. This has been emphasised by creating a common space as the centre of the library, highlighted by a prominent sculpted learning landscape that covers and permeates throughout the whole library.
Baltic Sea Art Park, Estonia | Social Architecture
This piece of social architecture with an accessible roof offers better views of its environment and reconnects water, land, and the city. The idea of conservation of the existing trees and plants makes it further unique while providing a communal space for social interaction and relaxation.
Wormhole Library, China
Originally named the Cloudscape of Haikou, nicknamed “the wormhole” because of the new building’s function and ability of books to transport readers to a new, different dimension, losing all sense of time and space, to denote the space-time tunnels which theoretically connects two black holes. This project is the first of sixteen coastal pavilions commissioned to improve public spaces along the coastline. The structure is located in Century Park, along the bay.
Koodaaram Kochi – Muziris Pavilion Sense Cafe Building | Social Architecture
Designed by Anagram Architects to sustain the Kochi-Muziris Biennale contemporary art festival in Asia, held once every two years, in abandoned factories and warehouses repurposed as galleries and cafes in Kerala, South India. This revived social architecture provided space for a workshop, lectures, social performances, conferences, and book launches, with a unique oval shape.
Kamwokya Community Centre, Uganda
The project has evolved into a powerful community building with flexible classrooms, a gym, an internet café, a sports pitch, and a music studio. This was a result of collaboration with the locals. The playground provides a more conducive space for social activities on site to maintain and enhance the public and free character of the site, allowing for more communal and interactive activities. The facility has a sports field, ventilated buildings, offices, and a sanitary block, all covered by two butterfly roofs raised by steel columns to give a strong visual identity and allow airflow.
Sir Michael Okpara Square, Nigeria
Located in the heart of a Southeastern town in Enugu State, Nigeria, this place was proposed by Architect and Urban Planner Sir. Edmund Okehukwu Onochie, in the early civilisation days of the state, aimed to provide a central social area for the state. Today, the vision is in place as the centre now hosts public events such as sports, rallies, picnics, etc, almost every weekend in the town. Close to the square is the pine forest, which has become a relaxation spot for residents, movie makers, models, etc
Victorian Pride Centre, Australia | Social Architecture
The VPC houses numerous resident organisations and welcomes dozens of groups for meetings, events, and projects. The building provides a public working hub, health and welfare centres, a bookshop, a theatre, archives, a roof terrace, a gallery, a café, a rooftop events pavilion, and a community garden.
Paprocany Lake Shore Redevelopment, Poland
Paprocany lake is where inhabitants of Tychy often spend their free time together. Personal memories are associated with spending time with other people: sunbathing with family and swimming with friends. The promenade fosters unity amongst various humans, and people of all ages relax together. The lake attracts a different group of users because of the habitant’s memories and beautiful landscapes. The promenade connects them and promotes establishing direct contacts.
Floating Music Hub, In Cape Verde | Social Architecture
This project is located in Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente, Cape Verde, West Africa, with its distinctive triangular form. The hub has three floating structures of different sizes, a bar, a multipurpose performance hall, and a professional recording studio to sustain the significance of music to social integration and add value to the rich cultural history of Cape Verde.
Paprocany Lake (2023) https://www.simonprize.org/redevelopment-of-the-east-side-paprocany-lake-shore (Date Accessed 17 March, 2023)
Water parks (2023) https://waterthinktank.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/baltic-sea-art-park-2/(Date Accessed 17 March, 2023)
Victorian Pride Centre(2023) https://www.dezeen.com/2022/07/21/australias-first-purpose-built-pride-centre-brearley-architects-urbanists-grant-amon-architect (Date Accessed 17 March, 2023)
Social architecture projects(2023) https://www.cgarchitect.com/projects/5ccde42a-zhuhai-jinwan-civic-art-centre(Date Accessed 17 March, 2023)
social architecture (2023) www.archilogbook.co/posts/social-architecture (date accessed 15 march 2023)