Architects Empowering Community

Presenter: Forrest Perkins

Research Category: Social Sciences, Business, and Law
Additional Authors: Thomas Gardner, Hend Al Humaidan, Juste Gatari, Al Pierre
PI: Jeremy Munn
Award Winner Category: Sharing Economy Award

The practice of architecture is suffering from a lack of innovative business models and is on the verge of being disrupted by technology solutions. Competition has become fierce between architects offering similar services with dwindling profit margins. At the same time, the current model of housing development often ignores the very communities in which they are located.

As architects, we want to leverage our design skills to work with communities to create what they want and need. We see current development primarily focused on building housing and other amenities for the wealthy, but we see an opportunity for investment; design skills, to be opened up to serve a wider range of society.

A business model similar to that of a Community Land Trust would enable us to purchase land through a partnership with local communities. We would then share ownership of the land and build on it based on the input from the community. By crowdfunding investments from individuals living within the community, to purchase land and build a project, the community becomes the developer.

We would design and manage the building(s), retaining equity along with community investors throughout the project and local communities would get a say in what gets built in their neighborhoods. The proposed business model would also incentivize architects who are responsible for the management of the property to push the boundaries of design, optimizing solutions and thus being accountable for the operation and maintenance of their innovative solutions.