Nourished by Design: Public Architecture as Social Infrastructure
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This thesis reimagines the role of public buildings in urban society arguing that their contemporary value comes not only from providing public services but also from being accessible places for socialization in the public realm. Drawing on the work of sociologist Eric Klinenberg, the thesis proposes a framework for designing public buildings as ‘Social Infrastructure’ using the principles of flexible programming, diversity in social spaces and porous thresholds. The illustrative design proposal is the Food Stop, a community food centre in downtown Vancouver that brings together and nourishes diverse social groups. The large adaptive reuse project articulates the principles of social infrastructure using seven design strategies to bring daylight into the building, organize complex adaptable programmes and connect people and food throughout the building. These strategies are: extending the street, bringing in light, zoning programmes, clustering programmes, ‘growing circulation,’ nesting spaces and inhabiting the fifth facade.