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Sample Project: Architectural Initiatives which Promote Social Change

by John Stevick

"Architecture is first and foremost a social art that is shaped by people and society"
- Jo Noero


  1. Jo Noero has been heavily involved in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa for over 25 years and understands the power of community building projects to reverse the plight of the traditionally oppressed. Working alongside Anglican leader Desmond Tutu and black community activists, Noero realized how architecture - initially used by the South African government as a tool of oppression and racial segregation - could be transformed under the resistance movement to establish a strong and hopeful community.

    One of Noero's more recent works is the Red Location Museum of the People's Struggles, located in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth. The structure pays direct tribute to his mission: developing stronger communities by acknowledging and overcoming the apartheid past.

    This article does well in describing the social work accomplished by Noero.

  2. The Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind of both Polish and Jewish descent, represents the architect's understanding of the Jewish identity. Libeskind consistently promotes tolerance and social justice through his work and the Jewish Museum is no exception. The building, open to the public since 2001, certainly stands out, featuring a zinc exterior as well as a disorientating interior.The new location and home of the famous Barnes Museum is a socially strategic move.
  3. The controversial move of the Barnes museum, representing over $25 billion of art, from the Merion suburbs to inner Philadelphia is almost complete; the museum is set to reopen this May. Many feel that the relocation allows a greater majority of the public to access and enjoy the art work.