Architectural design: an opportunity to strengthen local communities
The essay describes architectural design as a process to be shared by the local community and highlights the reasons behind this approach. The issue is illustrated by the projects carried out in the village Stara Fužina in Bohinj, and more particularly by the examples of a flat built for a resident and a renovated tourist apartment. The existing village ambiences have taken shape gradually, adapting to the natural environment and to the traditional craftsmanship, skills and values of the local community. In the recent past, Bohinj has changed rapidly to achieve fast development and fulfil new, emerging needs of the community brought about by the tourism industry. The complex procedures that accompany spatial architectural interventions, as well as the emergence of new activities and the changing population structure, have affected the relationship of the community with space significantly. Breaking ties with the environment and the community may cause serious harm to both natural and cultural heritage. At the same time, even the smallest architectural intervention on space may constitute an opportunity to reinforce those ties. We conceive the community as a process (Follett, 1919); any project, therefore, may serve as an opportunity to build and nurture relationships with the local population: a chance not taken is a missed opportunity. Consequently, architectural design can reinforce these ties if it is based on appropriate project solutions and a designing process conceived to spontaneously and informally exchange experiences, knowledge and ideas between architects and the local population. Consequently, an architect’s longterm presence in the local environment of a place facilitates her/his inclusion in the community.