Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement (October 3, 2010–January 3, 2011) presents eleven building projects on five continents that bring innovative architecture to underserved communities. The featured architects address the functional requirements of their designs but also aim to have a broad positive effect on the communities they work in, as partners in social, economic, and political transformation beyond the boundaries of their often modest sites. In addition to new modes of participatory design, the projects on display incorporate pioneering site-specific ecological and socially sustainable practices, including the exploration of both new and traditional materials. Populations that have previously rarely enjoyed the attention of architects are engaged in designs incorporating innovation worthy of the broadest attention. The renewed commitment of these architects and many of their colleagues to socially responsible architecture is reminiscent of the ideals of twentieth-century masters, but these designers eschew their predecessors’ utopian, wholesale blueprints for change imposed from above. Small Scale, Big Change presents radically pragmatic, “acupunctural” projects—limited interventions with wide-reaching effects.
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