How can designers

Practice Empathically

within architecture?

In Architecture and Empathy, Juhani Pallasmaa posits that empathic imagination is an important tool which places the architect within the role of potential building users. This process, he believes, transforms designers into temporary surrogates, capable of embodying and projecting the experiences of future occupants. How can we leverage empathic imagination to cultivate broader awareness and accountability to the diverse subjects for whom we act as design surrogates?

Practice Empathically explores methods and tools for integrating empathy as a dynamic and continual part of the design process. For the workshop Drawing Community, students engaged the communities of Baptist Manor, Amherst Center for Seniors Services and Silver Pride through drawing and discussion of individual support networks and daily routines. Shape/Shifters was an interactive game that encouraged participants to practice empathy together through exercises of transformation, interpretation and embodiment. The practice poster was distributed at the exhibition providing viewers an opporutnity to engage in empathic practice through drawing, writing and mapping exercises. 

Ex.3 Drawing Community

Drawing Community was an interactive workshop designed to foster intergenerational dialogue between architecture students and older adults. Through one-on-one and small group interactions, students engaged older adults in discussion and drawing in response to two questions:

What networks of physical and community support do individuals engage with?

How do individuals perceive the environment they live within?

The objective was to have a diverse range of older adults visualize their personal perception of their community and spatial environment. For students, the workshop provided insight into the lived experience of senior citizens and cultivated empathy within architectural pedagogy.
        Three separate workshop were run as part of the New Normal(s) seminar and in collaboration with Baptist Manor, Amherst Center for Senior Services and Silver Pride. The drawings were generated individually by participants or in collaboration with students. The process fostered

Workshop engagement by ARC 404/505 New Normal(s) seminar students: Alexa Russo, Alexandra Sheehan, Amrutha Boban, Andrea Gonzalez, Arisha Shahid, Emma McAneny, Euychan Jeong, Jarrett Trudeau, Kelsey Habla, Lauren Kennedy, Ruchita Chandsarkar, Ryan Olsen

Generous support provided by Age Friendly Erie County

Drawing Community workshop at Amherst Center for Senior Services, February 12, 2018