Architects and urban planners have always acted a bit like demiurges – organizing the chaos of organically-growing cities, planning ideal spaces, designing modern houses and sunny estates full of fresh air and green trees. Unfortunately, a project that exceeds the human scale is overwhelming and rather repulsive. A space shared with thousands of anonymous neighbours seemingly belongs to no one, so nobody takes care of it. Devoid of individual features, a ‘completely’ designed building in which nothing can be changed, seems unfriendly and odd. The residents have no way of making their surroundings their own. Traditionally, architecture has stood on a pedestal, treated like a work of art, with which the public may not interfere. User’s attempts to modify it were considered sacrilegious, despite the fact that they only reflected a natural human desire for aesthetic individualisation and the taming, warming, and adjusting of our surroundings to meet our needs and desires. From now on, no more icons in architecture! Dear architects, it is time to ask future users what they want and need!

A courtyard in Warsaw’s Praga district, Równa/Szwedzka Streets
A community project for the renovation and improvement of an apartment-building courtyard, developed as a result of close collaboration between the residents, local authorities and administrators, Praga-Północ Pedagogy and Social Animation Group and the Odblokuj (Un-block) association.
Project: architects Marek and Marlena Happach, landscape architect – Joanna Hernik, 2011

Quinta Monroy social housing
Social housing development in Chile, designed by Elemental. Only half of each building was built, so that residents could individually decide on its further development.