"Theory and practice are not only interwoven with one’s culture but with the responsibility of shaping the environment, of breaking up social complacency, and challenging the power of the status quo."
Never before have so many of the world’s problems been as accessible to design solutions. Although this statement is undeniably true, for the most part, designers, architects and experts on the built environment are financially unavailable to the vast majority of our population. There is a growing sector in the design professions known as Public Interest Design. The projects in this sector address the functional requirements of their clients and sites but also aim to provide broad positive effect on the communities they work in, as partners in social, economic, and political transformation. Through Public Interest Design populations that have previously rarely enjoyed the attention of architects and design professionals are engaged in design that incorporates architectural innovation worthy of the broadest attention.
SPAARC is a collaborative effort between architects, artists, builders, developers and the public, to provide a wide range of design services to Oklahoma Cities under served populations through partnerships, education, workshops, community-based projects and community development seminars. Here in Oklahoma one in six Oklahoman's live in poverty (16.9 percent), yet according to Kate Richey of the Oklahoma Policy Institute “Poverty does not persist in Oklahoma because we’re not prosperous. It persists because we’re not leveraging those public and private resources to achieve prosperity that can be widely shared.” This statement hits at the core of what SPAARC is and is hoping to achieve. Design can address needs from clean water to safe streets to affordable housing to playgrounds, landscapes and public art. SPAARC aims to bring experienced and professional design skills to the areas of Oklahoma that need them the most.
This concept combines an innovative design space, maker space, architectural laboratory, teaching and volunteering facility all located in the heart of the Paseo Arts District. From this location SPAARC will engage with community members, neighborhood associations, city government, community developers, and other public and private organizations in order to provide public interest design solutions for actual needs in our communities. SPAARC is a collaborative community design workshop where in addition to new modes of participatory design, the projects we engage with will incorporate pioneering site-specific ecological and socially sustainable practices. This is truly architecture for the 99%. Following in the footsteps of Rural Studio, Architecture for Humanity, Design Corps and others SPAARC will address design problems both large and small in our communities through research, development and project implementation.
SPAARC is a brand new 501c3 organization centered on community outreach through design education and implementation.
SPAARC has a workshop and operational headquarters in the Paseo Arts District in the heart of Oklahoma City.
SPAARC has numerous community partners and a wide level of support from top to bottom.
SPAARC will soon announce its programming for the 2018-2019 year including lectures, workshops, design seminars, community projects as well as a range of support activities related to public interest design initiatives.
The primary beneficiary of SPAARC projects are populations that will benefit most from design professionals and their work as well as the surrounding communities that border those populations. In short everyone in will benefit from SPAARC however our research focus will be on those areas that would not normally have the benefit of professional architectural, design, engineering and constructions services. This we will provide without charge while utilizing a unique funding structure that includes education, grants and for-profit services to specific sectors.
I hope you find this initiative as exciting as we do. Let’s make all OKC a joy to live and work in together!
All the best,
Matt Peacock, AIA