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Graeme Bristol

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THE CITIZEN ARCHITECT

MAY 2002

Assessment of the existing structure As-built drawings Client/user interviews (including participatory design) Concept drawings Presentation to client for review and approvals.

The focus of my interest in this was in getting the children involved in the design. The idea was developing that this is where the concepts of rights and democracy joined with the basic need for shelter. I viewed architecture as one of many tools by which we politicise and democratise the environment. Other tools of democratisation are the Declarations, Covenants, Conventions, Constitutions and laws that protect the rights of individuals to make choices and to be heard. For architecture to be a tool of democratisation, the process of design must be participatory. John Turner made that point many years ago in his writings. Colin Ward, in the Preface to Turner‟s book, Housing by People, summarized these as „Turner‟s three laws of housing‟: 1.

2. 3.

When dwellers control the major decisions and are free to make their own contribution to the design, construction or management of their housing, both the process and the environment produced stimulate individual and social wellbeing. The important thing about housing is not what it is, but what it does in people‟s lives. In other words, that dweller satisfaction is not necessarily related to the imposition of standards. The deficiencies and imperfections in your housing are infinitely more tolerable if they are your responsibility than if they are somebody else‟s. (Turner, 1976:5-6)

Central to these „laws‟ is the need for control. In turn, control over the built environment concerns autonomy. [S]ince physical survival and personal autonomy are the preconditions for any individual action in any culture, they constitute the most basic human needs – those which must be satisfied to some degree before actors can effectively participate in their form of life to achieve any other valued goals. (Doyal and Gough, 1991:54) Without autonomy, then, we cannot really talk rationally about human rights. How, then, can we encourage control? How can we encourage autonomy? How can we, beyond that, encourage active citizenship? These are all concerns, as well, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)3. Rights, autonomy, and, indeed, citizenship (and therefore democracy) is encouraged by the active engagement of people in the development of their own built environment.

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Citizen Architect 2002  

1. INTRODUCTION In January of 1998, I came to Bangkok to teach architecture. I came with some general intentions and with a set of ideas abo...

Citizen Architect 2002  

1. INTRODUCTION In January of 1998, I came to Bangkok to teach architecture. I came with some general intentions and with a set of ideas abo...

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