Democratic Architecture is concerned with design and research through collaboration so as to harness the collective energies of citizens and create more meaningful paths to the future.
This is a platform for the sharing of ideas, discussion and debate; bringing together the knowledge of diverse groups and individuals to move us toward a 21st century service that is genuinely in the public interest.
Democratic Architecture believes:
The exclusivity of architectural services can be removed through collaborating with communities in the collective shaping of environments. By facilitating the creation of environments genuinely in the public interest, architects become specialists in nurturing potential, and as such are turned to in times of crisis as well as prosperity.
Normative means of architectural production reflect only the views and visions of an over-empowered minority. In order to build resilient paths to the future, people must be given confidence, motivation and opportunity to make real change.
Decision-making should involve those implicated in the outcome. The urban environment must speak of consensus views, reflect the culture it contains and allow for meaningful change in line with the needs and desires of its citizens.
Our environment is an expression of the relationship between space, time and society, and as such, architecture must diversify its toolbox – reaching out to other disciplines and finding new ways of engaging the public.
Empowering citizens gives them heightened feelings of ownership over the environment, allowing them to seek representative change and help their built expressions remain current. This will lessen the theme of needless destruction and renewal and allow for continued relevance through refinement.
The myriad of unpredictable challenges of the future may only be addressed in a multi-disciplinary way. Diversity is something to be embraced, as it is the only means by which the diversifying needs of the future may be met.
Architecture must be allowed to ‘grow roots’ – allowing for relationships with existing activities and existing communities to develop. It must not be imagined in isolation and grafted to the streets.
Architects have the correct skill sets to allow the flourishing of potential, not through prescriptions from the top, but through interaction at community level.
Democratic Architecture is written by Lawrence Sherwood - Director at Sherwood Knight Architecture, with contributions by philosopher David Moss - currently reading for a PhD at the University of Leicester, co-supervised in Media and Politics