Architecture as Environmentally Embedded Social and Material Justice
This paper addresses the ethical good and the just in the environments we design and shape for our inhabitation principally from a virtue consideration (aretaic positions; Alasdair MacIntyre) of architecture (the designed built environment and design processes) and architects (designers of the built environment). Architecture’s ethical attributes are briefly examined from four perspectives: 1) purposefulness (which is less about utility than it is about intent, motive, power relations, and civic purpose); 2) material production (which is more to do with labor sources and material origination to durability and sustainable design practices than construction per se); 3) aesthetics (beauty, image, meaning and human flourishing); and 4) practices (the dimension of relationships and conduct in the socio-political-economic context of landscape fabrication). The virtues of the architect from perspectives of the mastery and maintenance of architectural knowledge, creativity and ingenuity, the exercise of skill and judgment, and personal values and professional conduct. Three cases from practice: the design of prisons, the design and construction of a Social Services Clinic, and the selection of recyclable construction materials, test the preceding while considering the good and the just regarding environmental design and designing, which are explicit and embedded in the theme statement supporting “Design and Justice.”
This article is from Contemporary Justice Review, 2001 4(2); 181-199. Posted with permission.