City and Society

/ Karen Pickering / Creative Workspace

City and Society has been the theme shaping our years effort in Creative Workspace.

Our building envelopes and interior frames encapsulate a reading of how the community we serve, works and interacts or perhaps how they might like to act. As designers we envisage how the society of users who intend to occupy the building might occupy and vitalise the spaces and enclosures we create. The challenge for us is to understand in what ways our contribution to these settings works – how actually does our architecture influence these settings, which these community's occupy?

Reviewing our work of the year we see that we seek in our interiors to bring an internal civility to these settings. This is of course no different than we try to do externally. There we use our understanding of the city to shape our contribution. How does what we build add to the life and vitality and clarity of experience of the urban context – in other words to act with a civic responsibility. There has been lots of thought about what makes good cities work. Fundamentally it is about engagement with the life that passes it, slowing people down, offering opportunities to linger, meet, chat, discuss and observe. Buildings have the ability to enable and support that interaction, and can on the other hand very easily destroy it.

If then we find the city informs our actions then surely a reading of our interiors should be seen as an extension of the setting around them. Drawing our interiors as an extension of the city streets outside in the form of the ‘Noli Plan’ helps nurture this way of thinking so that interiors become shaped by courtyards, wynds, lanes and passages. Deep down we know that the armature of the city is made up of these conduits of movement, which when reduced to the interior designation of corridor loses its ‘way’.

This year then our focus is the ‘street’ but the street in its broadest connotation, not only as the web of an external civil life but penetrating into our interior spaces and shaping the circulation of our buildings. Inside and outside become fused, but by implication, how we treat people outside and inside becomes similar.