Is collective practice the future of architecture? As spaces and communication methods change, architects need to find an approach that brings together a diversity of expertise
Words by Shawn Adams
ABOVE RESOLVE’s 2019 installation The Garage at S1 Artspace in Sheffield, featured a structure from which events were hosted
ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE IS changing. The pandemic has altered the way we work, the spaces we operate in, and how we communicate with others. But even before coronavirus, it was clear that the conventional modes of practice were rapidly becoming outdated.
If the architecture industry hopes to remain relevant in modern society it cannot solely focus on constructing buildings. We need to work collectively towards solving global issues and move away from individualistic vanity projects. By working collaboratively, designers can learn how to use their skills in different industries, gain knowledge from other professions, and develop multi-faceted systems to make a positive impact on the future.
We only have to look at organisations such as the Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) to see collaborations between architects, scientists, and anthropologists as they work towards reducing the planet’s carbon emissions. By bringing together an array of expertise we will be better equipped to challenge the pressing matters we currently face. Two designinfused organisations that have been championing collective practice and combating societal issues are RESOLVE, and Migrant’s Bureau.
Founded in 2016, RESOLVE is an interdisciplinary collective that fuses art and design with engineering while simultaneously using architecture as a mechanism for socio-economic change. For its Sheffield based project The Garage, the three-member team curated a series of public events that examined how residents navigate their surroundings and the ways in which the built environment affects them emotionally. By teaming up with a wealth of organisations which included a residents’ association, two local schools, and alternative hip-hop artist Otis Mensah, RESOLVE used architectural techniques to promote positive social change.
Collective practice is fundamental to the trio and, for that reason, they collaborated with different organisations every week during their two-month stint at the S1 Artspace. ‘Architecture needs to focus on collaboration in order to adapt to the needs of the communities it is catering for,’ states director Seth Scafe-Smith. Co-founder Akil Scafe-Smith describes their mode of practice as an ‘ecology of practitioners working in unison’, a series of individual parts that can come together to form a ‘constellation’. The network of professionals can adapt to contrasting demands to solve complex problems. It is a fluid mode of practice.
This flexibility is also apparent in the work of London-based practice Migrant’s Bureau. Co-founded by Alisha Morenike Fisher and Hani Salih, Migrant’s Bureau is a design and IMAG E S
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