The Changing Face of Community-Scale Architecture
What role do small community buildings play in today's world? In the 20th century developments in transportation led to a great centralisation of functions in typologies such as the shopping mall, but in recent years the transition to a digital society is beginning to enact another centralisation of activity, with internet retail and social media all promising to change the way that people interact with their city. While housing, workspace and entertainment all continue to have great demand, all manner of alternative services and functions are in decline. Here we will examine a number of different new small-medium sized buildings, each one of which points to different ways in which architecture addresses this problem.
Perhaps the most threatened function is the small public library. As printed information becomes digitised and more easily available online, the functions traditionally offered by these buildings become less and less vital. While there is great public affection for the concept of the library, as typologies they are having to reinvent themselves as more social spaces, often bringing in leisure and care facilities into their structures. We will look at a series of varied library buildings which range from continuation of the tradition to new ideas of how a local library should function.
Small museums are also vulnerable to a decline in popularity, partly due to an expansion of the market for blockbuster museums and collections. If large, globally branded museum buildings have provided some of the most dramatic and celebrated architecture of the last generation, how does this effect the design of smaller, more intimate museum buildings? Here we will consider a number of new small museum buildings which have more complex and subtle relationships to their community than their more glamourous cousins, and which offer an interesting contrast to the attitudes put forward by the libraries themselves. written by Heidi Saarinen
Health and education buildings have much in common, even as they might initially appear very different. As public buildings providing important services to their local neighbourhoods and as institutional buildings, they have to grapple with many similar issues. Where institutions are often defined by their rules and bureaucracy and the lack of personalisation that entails, how does the architecture push back?
This collection of buildings reveals a series of patterns in the ways that the architects and their clients have sought to mitigate the more institutional aspects of typical health and educational buildings, employing a number of key strategies in order to do so.
written by Alison Killing