Modern technology and media access have made sharing information about architecture easier than ever, yet it often feels as if architecture has lost its power to incite change or address pressing social needs. Much valuable local and cultural knowledge, especially regarding sustainable design, remains scattered or siloed. Is there way to collect these hyper-local design insights and make them accessible globally, so that we may learn from each other and/or collaborate? These are the questions that triggered Changfang Luo and Rob Breed to found Architecture In Development (AiD).
AiD is a community-based web platform founded in 2009, bringing local and global building knowledge together in one place, and connecting local initiatives to international experts. Stories featured on their platform tell not only of inspiring design, but also their relationship to various communities and cultures. These stories unveil how built environments are formed by their localities. For example, how a particular slum village developed in context with its economic and political climate. Luo and Breed hope that this shared knowledge can become the foundation for practitioners of architecture to collaborate on local and global sustainable development.
The main feature of the site is an interactive architectural map where building projects can be easily added and edited by users. Contributors around the globe are invited to share their expertise and experiences, not only to document it, but also to exchange knowledge, creativity, and bring about new perspectives.
Exploring the map, we found communal structures built by students using local materials in Colombia; a chapel made by local farmers in Mexico working together with international architects; and Hong Kong roof dwellings that have been demolished, but still offer a lot to learn from their informal settlements. The map is not just for realized projects however, but also a place to call for participation on unfinished projects, for example, a housing project in Ghana looking for the aid of a construction engineer.
Architecture In Development is a collective project that invites the world to research collaboratively the cultural, social, economic contexts behind architecture initiatives. The idea is that globally pooled knowledge, expertise and creativity can be the foundation to develop location-specific solutions, which is what Luo and Breed passionately believe sustainable architectural development is all about.
The AiD community welcomes experts from all fields, including architects of course, but also urban geographers, energy specialists, engineers, social scientists, and anyone who wants to contribute to sustainable development. All are invited to add a project, share research, or offer their help. It is for critical colleagues, committed professionals, passionate amateurs and free thinkers who dare to look further and practice beyond the limits of their own profession and culture.