Ethics and Aesthetics – Contemporary Architecture in Search for Social Relevance, by Andres Lepik

ISPA 2016 Keynote lecture, 20 July 2016, 2:00 pm.

As a discipline that shapes the built environment, architecture has a strong influence on both social conditions and development. Growing conflicts, global migration and the explosive growth of informal settlements have forced contemporary architecture into a major crisis of legitimation. It reaches only a small fraction of global societies and it is in many cases strongly entrenched with political and economic forces. Despite these limitations more and more young architects have turned their creativity and experience towards building projects that engage underserved communities in both developing countries and in the industrialized world. It is through engagement of small projects for incremental housing, a new appreciation for such local building materials as clay and bamboo and the initiation of participatory processes that these architects contribute not only to social changes but also to a new understanding of the relevance of the profession. These projects’ focus on social change never occurs at the expense of their design quality. What can be defined by now as a “Social Turn” in architecture started with a number of mostly individual initiatives but has by now become a critical force for public influence through exhibitions, publications and manifestos. The search for social relevance will be presented through a number of practical examples from all over the world.

Andres Lepik

Harvard Citation Guide: Lepik, A. (2016) Ethics and Aesthetics – Contemporary Architecture in Search for Social Relevance, International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture, [blog] 03 June 2016, Available at: [Accessed: 03 June 2016]

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