The Collaborative Design of a ' Community of Solidarity': Reflections on Designing a Center Square in a Rural Community in Western Poland

Friday, 20 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Suava ZBIERSKI-SALAMEH, Haverford Institute, USA
This paper explores creation of a 'community of solidarity' based on the author's collaborative work with a county government and Poznan architecture and sociology departments on designing a Community Center. The project is taking place in a rural community, against the backdrop of community's post-socialist transformation--changing its’ economic profile from agricultural to industrial/service sector, MNFs entrance, doubling the population through migrations, becoming a bedroom community.

The collaborative work on designing the community Center presents a major departure from the standard practices in Poland, both in the approach to decision-making on the local government level, and in terms of the project objective. The project expresses a deliberative decision-making across institutional and disciplinary boundaries, where government partners with the NGO and the Universities in a non-hierarchical way, and in a conceptual openness. The objective of the project is also unique--against the construction of commercial Centers across Poland, the design of the central space in the community is driven by the concern of individualization, atomization of the community, supremacy of the personal interests, and the concern of the socialist legacy of 'familial egoism' (Skapska 1998). Thus the sociological- architectural-governmental efforts in designing the Center Square were focused on developing a space that prompts micro-practices of a new social committment, intergenerational convergence and formation of common interest. The Center’s central building - The Center for Democracy - through permanent exhibitions, workshop areas, gathering places, coffeee house--are to cultivate individuals who socialize with others, develop informal relations and recognize their responsibility for common-space as 'common good', thus becoming more engaged citizens of their smaller and larger 'communities of solidarity'.

The project represents intervention on the institutional level but also aims to alter micro-practices of post-Sovieticus individuals.