SPAARC : SPace for Art and ARChitecture
"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 is undeniably true, for the most part, designers, architects and experts on the built environment are financially unavailable to the majority of our population. 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.
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. Design can address needs from clean water to safe streets to affordable housing to playgrounds, landscapes and public art. 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 aims to bring experienced and professional design services and skills to the people and areas of Oklahoma that need them the most.
This concept combines an innovative design workshop, architectural laboratory and teaching facility all located in the heart of the Paseo Arts District. Community projects will be identified by working with partner organizations, local districts and the City of Oklahoma City and each will be determined based on need, feasibility and its potential for larger community impact. SPAARC aims to bring new modes of participatory design to the projects we engage with, incorporating 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. In short everyone in will benefit from SPAARC however our 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 Oklahoma a joy to live and work in together!