Charrette 7(2). Nurturing Architecture: Practice, Architecture Education and Wellbeing

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The theme of Nurturing Architecture explores the discipline as both processes and constructions with an ethos of care, of providing nourishment and of supporting growth and development. Inherent in the multiple interpretations of nurturing, is the notion of wellbeing, and the ways in which architects and educators consider the wellbeing of future and current generations of users and other stakeholders, including our communities of architects and students. Importantly, wellbeing is a broad and diffuse concept; wellbeing is a positive aspiration, a means to living well: an everyday resource that enables people to lead individually, socially and economically productive lives.

Wellbeing is often associated with nurturing the prospect of flourishing: ‘the experience of life going well… feeling good and functioning effectively’. It is also analogous to aspects of social sustainability and is embedded in innovative and interdisciplinary design approaches. The design of the built environment can contribute towards many positive aspects of mental health including self-actualization, the will to meaning, individuation or happiness. The theme interweaves across disciplines and boundaries, particularly: digital wellbeing; collective wellbeing; commodification of mental health; identity, individuation and isolation; the circular economy and the humanities. We welcome contributions that consider any of the following approaches:

Exploring an ‘architecture that nurtures’ suggests critically exploring the potential impacts and influences that architecture might have. This approach relates to the mechanisms through which the built environment, educational landscapes and the research/knowledge context might be a force for nurturing healthy, resilient, democratic communities. At a theoretical and pedagogical level, this perspective encourages exploration of ethics and values.

The ‘nurturing of architecture’ opens the debate to the role of the profession in developing, improving, updating, protecting and caring for the discipline of architecture. Recent debates around an expanding field of architectural expression introduce associated areas. The emergence of these interdisciplinary approaches is changing the existing landscape of the architectural profession. The nurturing of architecture – as a profession, as an industry and as a pedagogical context – requires support, consensus and collaboration as well as critique and dissensus in order to remain relevant to contemporary challenges. This approach raises potentially provocative and radical concerns.

As architects, architecture students and architecture educators we are educated to consider the society of which we are a part. Alongside this however we also need to consider our role in nurturing the individuals, students but also academics, who make up the schools of architecture and the profession. Architecture education has long been thought of as a process with a potentially detrimental effect on both mental and physical health and wellbeing. The challenge of how to nurture and care for a diverse range of students and academics in a way that also pursues excellence in architectural design is an ongoing challenge. This view raises potentially radical pedagogical and professional concerns.

Contributors may consider some of these questions:

Guest Editors: Louis Rice, Fidel Meraz, Charles Drozynski, Elena Marco, University of the West of England

Contributions can be made to one of the three categories of Charrette: Essay, Project or Freespace, following the Charrette author guidelines. Full-length contributions should be submitted to by 15th October 2020. Charrette 7(2) issue will be published in Autumn 2021.