“Rethinking Spaces”: Design strategies for a changing world in discussion at Rocagallery.com


Roca’s online platform for debate on architecture, design and urban planning presents its newest topic of the month Weekly articles explore new ideas for public and domestic spaces

At a time of profound change, how can architecture and design help us rethink our cities, neighbourhoods and homes, paving the way for a more sustainable future? And how are technological and conceptual advances in these fields inspiring newer, better ways of living? These questions lie at the heart of Roca Gallery’s latest topic of the month, “Rethinking Spaces”.

Societal change is constant and ever-accelerating due to huge gains made in technology. This frenetic pace strongly impacts day-to-day activities and how people live and interact. Consequently, a careful look at cities, neighbourhoods and homes will help develop a new approach to designing and building do-mestic and public spaces. Moreover, the pandemic, climate change and their consequences have rein-forced the need to rethink the various spaces that humans inhabit and the way this is done around the world.

These transformations require a re-examination of how domestic and public spaces are designed and built, urging a close look at homes, communities and cities in a new light. In ‘Rethinking Spaces’, Roca Gallery explores new ways to advance this critical debate, presenting the views of a transdisciplinary panel of experts in a series of newly commissioned articles published every week on the platform until the end of August.

Among the articles already available, architect Bryon George reflects on how the technological revolution is affecting the spaces we occupy and how they are designed, looking at interior design ideas to encourage well-being and engagement in our current environment. Meanwhile, architects Ramon Bosch and Bet Capdeferro, recipients of the EU-Mies van der Rohe Award for Emerging Architects, advocate a new approach to the architectural practice based on smart management of available natural resources, reclaiming its role as the creator of optimum microclimates for human life. At the same time, strategist, curator and writer Sarah Ichioka gives an overview of initiatives to rethink government-developed housing and its related infrastructure, presenting the example of Singapore.

On a different note, senior director of Healthcare Solutions at Johnson & Johnson Design Somi Kim proposes a new model of school bathrooms that fosters advocacy for accessibility, civil rights and inclusive design. A principle shared by Paul Priestman, designer and chairman of PriestmanGoode, who envisions the next generation of public bathrooms as democratic spaces that address the needs of every user, regardless of age, physical ability or socioeconomic background.

Looking ahead

In upcoming weeks, new articles will be posted, such as one by Xavier Torras, Roca’s Communication and Corporate Brand Director, who writes on the future of housing, with an emphasis on technologies that can conserve water, generate power and promote the health of its inhabitants. Angelo Bucci, professor and founder of SPBR Arquitetos, explores the design of the domestic space as an interface between na-ture, home and the urban environment.

Further on, Leilani Farha, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and Global Director of The Shift, an international movement to secure the right to housing, proposes a bold and inclusive rethink of our societies with human rights at its core. Similarly, Rafael de Balanzo Joue, architect and founder of the Urban Resilience Thinking Design Studio, discusses the Habitat Program recently launched by Architects Without Borders, an initiative which he coordinates and which aims to create collaborative networks for communities.

Rounding off the debate, designer and urbanist Dan Hill writes an article about Sweden’s pioneering ‘one-minute city’, a concept that reimagines urban development by decentralizing services and creating dense, walkable communities where residents can find almost everything they need within minutes. Hill is the Director of Strategic Design at Vinnova, the Swedish government’s innovation agency.

“Rethinking Spaces” is the latest in a series of monthly and bimonthly topics that explore pressing global issues from the point of view of design, architecture, innovation and sustainability. All articles are available online in both English and Spanish at www.rocagallery.com