Charrette 7(2). Nurturing Architecture: Practice, Architecture Education and Wellbeing

The theme of Nurturing Architecture explores the discipline as both processes and constructions with an ethos of care, of providing nourishment and of supporting growth and development. Inherent within the multiple interpretations of nurturing, is that the notion of wellbeing, and therefore the ways during which architects and educators consider the wellbeing of future and current generations of users and other stakeholders, including our communities of architects and students. Importantly, wellbeing may be a broad and diffuse concept; wellbeing may be a positive aspiration, a way to living well: an everyday resource that permits people to steer individually, socially and economically productive lives.

Wellbeing is usually related to nurturing the prospect of flourishing: ‘the experience of life going well… feeling good and functioning effectively’. it’s also analogous to aspects of social sustainability and is embedded in innovative and interdisciplinary design approaches. the planning of the built environment can contribute towards many positive aspects of psychological state including self-actualization, the desire to meaning, individuation or happiness. The theme interweaves across disciplines and limits , particularly: digital wellbeing; collective wellbeing; commodification of mental health; identity, individuation and isolation; the circular economy and therefore the humanities. We welcome contributions that consider any of the subsequent approaches:

Architecture that nurtures

Exploring an ‘architecture that nurtures’ suggests critically exploring the potential impacts and influences that architecture may need . This approach relates to the mechanisms through which the built environment, educational landscapes and therefore the research/knowledge context could be a force for nurturing healthy, resilient, democratic communities. At a theoretical and pedagogical level, this attitude encourages exploration of ethics and values.

Nurturing of Architecture

The ‘nurturing of architecture’ opens the talk to the role of the profession in developing, improving, updating, protecting and caring for the discipline of architecture. Recent debates around an expanding field of architectural expression introduce associated areas. The emergence of those interdisciplinary approaches is changing the prevailing landscape of the architectural profession. The nurturing of architecture – as a profession, as an industry and as a pedagogical context – requires support, consensus and collaboration also as critique and dissensus so as to stay relevant to contemporary challenges. This approach raises potentially provocative and radical concerns.

Nurture Architects

As architects, architecture students and architecture educators we are educated to consider the society of which we are a part. Alongside this however we also need to consider our role in nurturing the individuals, students but also academics, who make up the schools of architecture and the profession. Architecture education has long been thought of as a process with a potentially detrimental effect on both mental and physical health and wellbeing. The challenge of how to nurture and care for a diverse range of students and academics in a way that also pursues excellence in architectural design is an ongoing challenge. This view raises potentially radical pedagogical and professional concerns.

Contributors may consider some of these questions:

  • Do architectural spatial actions that hinder the wellbeing in society emerge from contemporary political and capitalist mechanisms?
  • Do ethically-aware educational strategies align with or challenge the dominant ideological and philosophical theories?
  • How does the wellbeing of architecture students and practitioners compare with those of other disciplines?
  • Would a more nurturing model of practice support more diverse representation in the profession?
  • How might the architecture profession address issues such as health and wellbeing in a neo-liberal market economy?
  • Will the involvement of a new generation of diverse politically-active architects affect the professional bodies?

Guest Editors: Louis Rice, Fidel Meraz, Charles Drozynski, Elena Marco, University of the West of England

Contributions can be made to one of the three categories of Charrette: Essay, Project or Freespace, following the Charrette author guidelines. Full-length contributions should be submitted to charrette@architecturaleducators.org by 15th October 2020. Charrette 7(2) issue will be published in Autumn 2021.

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