Cultural Insights: Strengthening Global Justice Design
The Academy of Architecture for Justice Conference is one of my favorite annual events to nurture and grow my career in Justice + Civic architecture. I thrive on the community conversations and the passion driving us to do more and think harder about how architects can help solve this ever-present issue of restorative justice and social equity. This year it also helped that the conference was nestled into the beautiful community of Honolulu, Hawaii.
This location and cultural center brought an understated theme throughout the conference, and by the final day, it seemed to infiltrate much of our discussion on design thinking and success. Multiple keynotes centered on how communities added depth and respect to their facilities through culturally significant symbols, and forms. Early community involvement connected the cultural context directly to the activities inside with reverence through the art that inspires them and the people they were serving.
Chief Justice Jan-Marie Doogue from Christchurch, New Zealand talked about the cultural significance of rebuilding their destroyed city following devastating earthquakes and the importance of every symbol and art piece. They used symbols and history to re-appropriate community centers into jails and courthouses maintaining the essential security measures still necessary during the reconstruction. People assimilated and created new ways to meet standards while they rebuilt the city infrastructure without harming the standing buildings they were able to use temporarily. It inspired community building between inmates and the communities that serve them.
Other presentations acknowledged the challenge in Hawaii and many other native societies to preserve their cultures where traditions are slowly disappearing. Each story of weaving cultural design into their building design revealed how tradition makes the people stronger and highlighted ways that built environments can preserve traditions, offering hope to these communities.
These messages of respect for tradition left me with a significant sense of purpose and heart-felt commitment to working together to preserve these beautiful cultures as enduring representations of the people and their legacy.