Among the various trends in architectural practice that emerged in the past decade, two occupied polar sides of the spectrum. On one end, designers capitalized on the once-booming economy, conceiving grandiose towers for burgeoning cities like Dubai and Shanghai. On the other end, they turned their attention to humanitarian work, using their skills to create pragmatic buildings for those in need, from hurricane victims to slum dwellers.
The latter is the focus of a noteworthy exhibition now on view at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Organized by curator Andres Lepik and curatorial assistant Margot Weller, Small Scale, Big Change: New Architecture of Social Engagement showcases 11 examples of contemporary, do-good design across five continents. The featured projects range in purpose and size, from a series of housing blocks designed by Hashim Sarkis for fishermen in Lebanon to a small primary school that architect Diébédo Francis Kéré built for his native village in Burkina Faso. The show, which runs through January 3, also includes three Internet-based networks (The 1%, Open Architecture Network, and urbaninform) that facilitate socially conscious design.