How can architecture be democratic?
The essence of democracy is the people’s autonomy and autonomy on the basis of their own rights, and its characteristics are manifested in equality and participation. If democracy means a more equitable way of public life in architecture, then this way of life is based on the homogeneity of the building’s spatial structure, with open, transparent and functionally diverse public spaces. It can also be argued that the birth, maintenance, and demise of democracy all occurred in the public sphere.
The democratic system of Athens began in the 6th century BC, and the square became a meeting place, and a symbol of the democratic politics of architecture. Although people’s access to assembly has become more widespread and convenient with the advancement of technology, the existence of public space in the city is still critical, representing the spatial demands of the public rights of citizens beyond basic conditions of survival and serving an important spiritual function of democratic expression. So, how is architecture democratic? How do we realize the general nature of architecture?
1. Space homogeneity
Hermann Herzberg proposed the concept of spatial equivalence, believing that “spatial organization should not reinforce hierarchy among people” and that “we can at least avoid stressing hierarchy and replace it with a spatial structure that adopts a system of equality.” The concept of space parity refers to the homogenization of the unit space, the elimination of hierarchical divisions of space, the creation of a just and objective spatial environment, which is undeniably representative of democratic politics. By dissolving volume, boundary and scale, space homogeneity can eliminate hierarchical variation in space and achieve space equality.
Longyan Palace of Labor Culture / Tianjin HHDesign
The size of the Longyan Workers Culture Palace was reduced by raising the first floor and “unpacking” the superstructure. The height of the first floor brings the space back into the city and the street, transforming it into a “square” visited by the public daily. The entire volume of the loft is divided by a large number of semi-outdoor spaces in the form of balconies of different scales and positions, which serve as a communication hub for the workers as well as an extension of the interior functions. The upper porch reflects the lower raised level, which is connected by different paths to create a continuous and even space.
Flower Station / original TJAD design studio
To create a large area of open space, the Flower House Station uses a basic volume + space grid structural system. The application of people is not limited to the fixed boundaries of the building due to the integration of the interior and exterior space. The three-dimensional flow line distorts the plane relationship. Stairs are used to connect platforms of different heights, giving visitors the freedom to choose ways to get around from top to bottom and from inside to outside.
Dongyuan Qianxun Community Center / Scenic Architecture Bureau
The courtyard design of Dongyuan Qianxun Community Center departs from the traditional large-scale design of public buildings, creating a human scale and a kind of pro-people space atmosphere. With shear walls stacked alternately, continuous wall enclosures and “open” wall connections are designed to create a flowing, courtyard-like space. The combination of smaller sizes melts the scale and creates a very friendly community structure.
2. Opening the model
The concept of seeing public spaces is then seen as being easy to see and access in urban space, providing evidence of how citizens participate and shape and build public life. The emergence of public spaces on urban streets reflects the right of citizens to participate in democratic spaces. Reducing access requirements and “opening” public spaces to a welcoming attitude are crucial parts of urban integration.
Pocket Plaza / Atelier Archmixing
Pocket Plaza is located at lane 309 in the middle of Yongjia Road. The public space is designed as a small square surrounded by open corridors. The ground of the square is 0.5 meters high by Yongjia, providing a sense of the area and an impressive elevated view of the cityscape. The square’s red floor tiles were chosen to provide contrast with the green steel columns, giving the square a casual everyday vibe while also improving its visibility.
Qixian City Library XiafangQiao / Leeko Studio
After the library was completed, the grand staircase became a popular place for Water Street residents to relax and socialize on a daily basis. The staircase connects the indoor reading space to the outdoor public plaza, and the large ceiling above the staircase emphasizes the space’s presence as an extension of the library’s interior space. During the day, it serves as a public living room on Water Street, and on weekends, the city government screens outdoor films here, and residents gather to form a community public cinema with the urban library as a backdrop.
Yulin Alley / Nhoow Architects
The Chengdu Yulin East Road community and the Wuhu District Federation of the Disabled have commissioned Yulin Alley to create a disability-friendly community space, encouraging people with disabilities to go out of their homes and expand their circle of life. We hope everyone can easily participate in social activities. Inspired by Japanese “engawa” and “Chinese beauty that reclines (the back railing of the chair)”, a portion of the outdoor space is raised to form a bench, creating a new closed and open space.
3. Humanization of functions
The democratic public space is open to all and allows for various forms of cultural expression for individuals and groups. Consider the different needs of the different groups in the space and respect individual differences to reinforce the overall nature of the space. The weakening of architecture and the strengthening of the human experience bring democratic, just and equal spatial qualities to space, and is part of the human expression of architectural function.
Qinchang Village Town Hall / Studio 10
A courtyard-centric spatial planning strategy is used in Qinchang Village Town Hall, where the volumes are divided into three nested small houses on three sides of the site to enhance the street facade. The multifunctional outdoor space of the courtyard is also a gathering place for villagers of different ages to socialize and participate in activities, complementing, balancing and enriching the ritual courtyard of the western courtyard.
Activate Shenyang Dongmaoko / Urbanos
Warehouses No. 2 and 4 of the Oriental Trade Warehouse urban renewal project are the warehouses that have already been completed. #2 Warehouse #2 has been converted into a community library, with the traditional reading room replaced by a park-like model based on the greenhouse concept. Warehouse No. 4 has been converted into a marketing and exhibition center, using horticultural techniques used to enhance and enrich the greenhouse experience. The two completed warehouses are connected and transformed into a community center over 200m in length, serving as the lower view of the Civic Garden. The rural industrial heritage, like the old warehouse, was designed and processed to provide a common outlet for the identity of the different social groups.
Community Without Borders for Zi Ni Twelve Portals / FEI Architects
The two-storey factory space with a height of 6.9 meters consists of seven different styles of houses. The “limitless space” designed here for the life of its occupants without limits completely defies convention. You can hold an exhibition of painting in the living room, work in the garden, meet in the bathroom, etc. A boundless community formed by spaces that break boundaries and break definition allows users to immerse themselves in a spatial experience that opens the brain and stimulates imagination and creativity.
This article is part of ArchDaily Topics: Democratization of Design. Every month we explore a topic in depth through articles, interviews, news and projects. Learn more about ArchDaily topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome contributions from our readers; If you would like to submit an article or project, contact us.