Accepted Paper:

Architectural anthropology or anthropological architecture? Bringing "lived experience" into architectural practice  


Saffron Woodcraft (UCL)

Paper short abstract:

Social sustainability re-assigns architects and urban planners an explicit social purpose. This paper explores how architects are responding to social sustainability as a new field of practice, research and policy.

Paper long abstract:

Social sustainability is an emerging discourse and professional practice in urban development in the UK and internationally. It has become shorthand for a set of narratives about the relationship between the built environment and the social life of places, emphasizing the role of architecture and urban planning in creating communities that are inclusive and equitable, not merely architectural or environmental exemplars. Increasingly, the language of social sustainability is used by governments, urban planners and property developers in Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, and more recently Asia, to frame decisions about the social outcomes of urban development and regeneration as part of a burgeoning policy discourse on placemaking and the sustainability and resilience of cities (Dempsey et al. 2011; Colantonio & Dixon 2010; Karuppannan & Sivam 2011). Social sustainability re-assigns architects and urban planners an explicit social purpose which, in the UK at least, has been largely absent since the demise of post-war planning. It creates tensions in design practice between prioritising built form and wider social needs. In this paper I will explore how architects are responding to this new field of practice, research and policy, and discuss what anthropological theory, research methods and ways of knowing can offer architecture and architects engaging with the idea of social experience in sustainable development. This paper will draw on my PhD fieldwork, which is concerned with how architects and urban planners imagine, theorize and interpret terms like home, family, community and dwelling, in the process of designing new neighbourhoods in London's Olympic Park.

Panel P092
Towards an architectural anthropology