Architects and designers have a social responsibility beyond just placing a building in an environment. Architecture has a social consequence and the way a community interacts with it means sustainable design, safe spaces and enjoyable experiences are key elements in creating good social design.
Throughout Perth you will find examples of public space that has been modelled for the everyman- making otherwise transitional spaces more welcoming to everyone who uses them and this element of social architecture is extremely important in making cohesive communities. Social architecture stems from the desire of architects to positively affect human experience through the use of space and can directly affect society in the public realm.
Noodle Palace at Elizabeth Quay
Taking the recently opened Yagan Square and comparing it to the social hub that is Elizabeth Quay, one can see that Perth is evolving and transforming its social architecture in a very positive way. These two public spaces that exist between the Central Business District and the creative and artsy Northbridge are a social dichotomy yet, arguably, design harmony. The government has employed strategic architects who have taken these spaces and built an environment for the social sphere; spaces where people of all backgrounds whether it be social, economic, ethnic, local or visiting can meld with one another safely and positively.
Statue of Yagan in Yagan Square
They also take on a role in engaging the public with their past, present and future. Elizabeth Quay, obviously, is a tribute to our longest serving monarch and a nod to our colonial heritage. This is of course in direct comparison with Yagan Square named after the Whadjuk Noongar warrior who fought for his community’s rights in the early years of the Swan River settlement. These spaces are not only for people to get together, but they also have a social responsibility to engage the community in local histories and what it means to be in Perth in a positive and cultural public experience.
On a more suburban scale, too, architects and their desires for unified communities comes from understanding and taking on individual needs. For example, in lower socio-economic areas, positive social design such as community gardens, new playgrounds, comfortable boulevards, safe shopping centres etc. all impact how communities share common spaces and engage them in positive social involvement.
Beaufort Street Festival
Building a stronger society for people should take precedent for architects, even when they are only dealing with residential homes; it’s about understanding the spatial makeup of a community. By forming the public realm, architects and designers have a social duty to fabricate spaces for human enjoyment and benefit mind, body and community. It is the role architects play, and it is in turn society’s role to nurture architectural desires.