Voices: Empathetic Responsibility

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Project Type
San Luis Obispo, CA
Project Completion

Each Designing in Color workshop thrives off the energy of its participants. They are the ones that drive our efforts, that inspire our work, that motivate us to new heights. “Voices: Empathetic Responsibility,” began in a somber mood, as a member of the team rallied after receiving tragic news that very morning. The students were wonderful, empathetic, and open throughout every moment of the workshop.

“Voices” challenged the audience to use empathy in their design – their responsibility as architects – as a means of generating spatial justice. The case studies the team presented the students enraptured them, and varied from the horrors of the Hamlet Chicken Processing Plant Fire to the optimistic potential of the Claiborne Cultural Innovation District.

Our most massive workshop yet, DCo asked the students to respond to a variety of prompts arranged on the walls around the massive hall. These questions were under the following categories:

  • Design for Healing
  • Owning Personal Truths
  • Design for the Margins
  • Curriculum Intervention: Spatial Justice

These concepts fed into a larger discussion about social change and spatial justice, encouraging students to think about their learning experience, and speak up about how to improve it. The workshop concluded with a frank conversation between students and faculty, opening up new lines of communication. The day was an emotional, fulfilling one for everyone involved.

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