The exhibition Think Global, Build Social! – Architectures for a Better World explores the theme of social responsibility in contemporary architecture. Conceived jointly by the Architekturzentrum Wien and the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, its tour to South Africa is supported by the Goethe Institut.
Architecture is currently in a state of crisis: on the one hand there is what is known as “starchitecture” – prestigious projects by acclaimed architects that serve to enhance the image of a few wealthy and politically influential clients – while on the other, there has been a massive rise in the number of building projects carried out in rapidly expanding megacities across Asia, Latin America and Africa with no architectural supervision whatsoever. In addition, an increasing number of people all over the world are living in slum conditions. The crucial question is therefore: what solutions can architecture offer to those segments of the global population that currently have no access to a well-designed environment?
Think Global, Build Social! showcases 12–15 current examples of an alternative approach to architecture – socially responsible practices that require greater personal initiative and creativity to develop low-cost architectural solutions that will improve living conditions for people in less privileged parts of the world. Many of the projects selected by curator Andres Lepik – which include schools, public spaces and residential buildings – have been developed through close collaboration with the future users and also incorporate local building traditions and techniques. Projects like these address the specific needs of those for whom (and with whom) they are being implemented, and thereby enable a two-way knowledge transfer. A number of common features can be seen in the various projects and approaches presented here, indicating that beyond the realm of “starchitecture”, a very different kind of movement has been emerging within contemporary architecture for quite some time – one that aims to tackle social issues within a global society.
The exhibition "Think Global, Build Social!" was developed from a previous exhibition presented in 2010 at The Museum of Modern Art in New York "Small Scale, Big Change. New Architectures of Social Engagement" which focussed on the social relevance of contemporary practices.