The Return Of Socially Responsible Architecture And Its Effect On Homelessness

When discussing homelessness, architecture is an area that is often overlooked. However, there has been a recent wave of restoring more functionality in architecture. This wave has led to architects taking another glance at how architecture can affect homelessness and what they can do to help.

Before the concept of hostile architecture became of popular note to the public, the role of architecture in the social issue of homelessness was minimal. Social responsibility in architecture, as it is called, is a move to emphasize architecture’s role in society, which has led architects to reassess the previous notions of this practice and homelessness

Architecture is said to achieve three things: social, cultural, and metaphysical dimensions. As time has progressed, architecture has slowly moved away from the social component of architecture, which in turn has decreased functionality in buildings. However in recent years, the preference for beauty, as opposed to functionality in architecture, is a trend that is now being revised. Architects are finding that buildings can no longer sustain their purposes for long periods of time; therefore making them useless after a short period of time. Due to this lack of functionality, spaces and buildings are eventually left abandoned or demolished. 

According to Daniel Talensik in an article by Deutsche Welle, “We don’t see architecture as a savior or the only discipline that can solve the problem. It can only help alleviate people’s situation. Because as such this is a social problem.”

This pattern has led some to push for the repurposing of old buildings which are considered undesirable as well as the re-doing of architecture to be more functional and helpful especially for the unhoused population. 

The most popular example of this new direction in architecture is the Holmes Road Studios in London, which is housing made out of cottage studios to house individuals who formerly experienced drug and alcohol addictions.

With architects moving towards more socially responsible and functional architecture, they are able to increase their contribution in social issues such as homelessness.



Willis, D. E. (1991). TOWARD AN ARCHITECTURE OF RESPONSIBILITY. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 8, 15–22.

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