For Studio L A, the practice of architecture is a device through which to investigate societal issues, phenomena and narratives, and to place them in renewed perspectives. The focus is on the themes below that Studio L A investigates through their projects.
Ever since the start of Studio L A, we have been very interested in monuments. With their often loaded historical meaning, we continue to ask ourselves: can monuments contribute to an inclusive future? And how can monuments be designed to hold meaning for a diversity of residents? Monuments that honor heroes or heroic deeds in history often point to a dichotomy between winners and losers. However, our world is connected in more complex ways and the effect these connections have on our society is that there is a huge diversity amongst people. Celebrating glorious histories through monuments, which are only glorious for a part of the people whose city they grace, can emphasize segregation between communities for generations. When we design a monument in public space, we try to weave the different layers of a place together into a connected story in which a multiplicity of people can find a part of themselves. By activating the monuments through social interaction, by giving them a role within their lively surroundings, we don’t freeze a moment in time but give people access to the continuation of their story. Through our monuments, we aim to facilitate communality rather than emphasize differences between people. We call them active monuments.
Dialogue is the foundation of an inclusive society. An equal, democratic society benefits from the meeting of different people with different visions of the world. People learn to understand new perspectives and to revise prejudices through direct dialogue with others. We believe that it is important to prevent exclusion processes in urban development projects, so that various residents can be in contact with each other within a familiar environment. Segregation within the built environment can foster incomprehension and exclusion between citizens. The Access to Space and Public Domain file introduces the projects in which we use architecture to combat exclusion in public and institutional space. In addition, we have designed spaces where experiments with forms of debate and fruitful discussion can be conducted. Spaces that facilitate and offer tools through which people can openly discuss sometimes difficult topics. This file introduces projects which center directly around dialogue and through which we research the role of architecture in facilitating the democratic process of communication. Often these are self-initiated projects in which we collaborate with external organizations for the social activation of our space.
Our projects in the public domain are a continuation of the projects and concepts in the Access to Space file. Ideally, the public domain is a space where different people have the opportunity to meet each other, exchange experiences and familiarize with the experience of others. It is an inclusive space which feels comfortable for many different people and which they can make their own. When we feel at home in public space, we take care of that space and the people whom we share it with more easily. As architects, our duty is to be aware of the exclusion processes which prevent this identification and the way we might maintain or even fuel them through our design.
Exhibition Narratives is about the commissions that we receive for designing the space that exhibitions take place in. We do not design carriers for artwork, but try to bring the world around the work to life and to reinforce its story and message through the exhibition space.
Inclusivity is a core value in Studio L A’s projects, because we believe that architecture is the physical framework for how we live together and how we structure our society. Buildings and public spaces form the context in which we meet other people and create shared memories. By connecting personal stories and histories to a tangible place, people identify with their surroundings. But this identification is not a given for everyone. Because as long as our architectural environment is not inclusive – economic status, cultural background and our relationship to history determine whether we can recognize ourselves in our cities. This awareness of ‘access to space’ plays an important role in all Studio L A projects. In this file we have included a number of projects in which access to space takes center stage: the projects which reflect more directly on exclusion processes and in which we attempt to design and preserve environment which a diverse body of people can identify with.
The question of how to make spaces more inclusive through architecture is increasingly relevant within municipalities and in the architectural field itself. However, it is a fairly unexplored topic and there are little successful examples that can be used as guidelines. By conducting research and collaborating with people from disciplines which have more experience with inclusivity, we contribute knowledge to our field — amongst policy-makers, investors, architects and future-architects.