This exhibition presents eleven architectural projects on five continents that respond to localized needs in underserved communities. These innovative designs signal a renewed sense of commitment, shared by many of today’s practitioners, to the social responsibilities of architecture. Though this stance echoes socially engaged movements of the past, the architects highlighted here are not interested in grand manifestos or utopian theories. Instead, their commitment to a radical pragmatism can be seen in the projects they have realized, from a handmade school in Bangladesh to a reconsideration of a modernist housing project in Paris, from an apartheid museum in South Africa to a cable car that connects a single hillside barrio in Caracas to the city at large. These works reveal an exciting shift in the longstanding dialogue between architecture and society, in which the architect’s methods and approaches are being dramatically reevaluated. They also propose an expanded definition of sustainability that moves beyond experimentation with new materials and technologies to include such concepts as social and economic stewardship. Together, these undertakings not only offer practical solutions to known needs, but also aim to have a broader effect on the communities in which they work, using design as a tool.
3 October, 2010 – 3 January, 2011