Oliver Simpson (They/them)
I believe architecture has an immense power to effect social change. I am interested in how all people experience space, and how architecture can reinforce social and cultural expectations – which currently don’t cater to the diversity of our society. This year I have furthered my explorations into well crafted, socially responsive architecture, and am keen to take this onwards through my future work.
‘Institute of Pollokshields’ – Public Building
This project aims to re-imagine a way for institutional bodies to interact with communities. Most Institutions represent dated cultures and ideals, like the British Museum, that are cold, univiting and problematic. Through a localised lense, I aim to create a new Town hall typology for Pollokshields that is a centre of live real time culture and can constantly evolve.
Using a research method called ‘Institutional Ethnography’ (which is the study of how people interact with institutions), I have ‘folded’ and ‘unfolded’ the spaces in existing town halls to unearth the power dynamics. Unsurprisngly the governing process isn’t accessible, so I have suggested, through architecture, how we could Incourage wider participation. If this is achieved the new institution could be a generous space for social knitting and for a more democratic running of local authorities.
Building on the groups position of ‘Social Knitting’ my project will also aim to integrate three distinct members of the community who all dewell in ‘queer’ (queer in this instance meaning other) ways in Glasgow: Pakistani families, Migrant families and LGBTQ+ families. This knitting should not only bring these people together, but also ‘knit’ on the material and urban scales.
Using an Industrial site on Forth street, sandwiched between two commercial buildings, the site is long and thin and includes multiple underused and derelict buildings that have the potential for reuse. This is optimal for urban and social knitting because the road has become an ‘informal’ social centre for multiple ethnic groups and has lots of under used space.
These three groups that don’t traditionally mix, diversity in this way is particularly important today because we are increasingly living in strong ‘bubbles’ of social groups which create insular behaviours, creates negative perceptions of ‘others’ and decreases the chances of people exchanging experiences, and altogether disablling us from living in agreement.