Architectural assistance is rooted in the notion that our buildings are, for better or worse, our partners. We feel actual joy when we find just the right neighborhood, or the right house, the right apartment, or even the right room to call our own. Conversely, we know genuine sadness when we must, for whatever reason, part with a space to which we felt a strong connection. We know discomfort and dysfunction when we are forced to inhabit a space or a live in a neighborhood that isn’t “right for us,” lacks the qualities we consider beautiful or fails to reflect any of the values we feel are important. We feel incredible excitement when introducing a new space to family and friends. And the most fortunate among us know what it is to search, in what feels like an obsessive way, for the “right space,” to find it, and then to realize how much life has changed because we are no longer looking and have confidence we will never have to look again.
Architectural assistance is about helping each other create a built environment that is a beautiful partner. One that meets our architectural needs. One that speaks to us of order, serenity, playfulness, grace, balance, intelligence and ambition. It is about helping each other find the beauty or the potential for beauty that exists in the spaces and the neighborhoods we already inhabit and about helping each other expand the sense of psychological shelter our built environment can provide.
We understand “architectural assistance,” to mean any action taken in support of another who is attempting to create for themself a built environment that provides shelter for their mind as well as their body. The Northside Center for Architectural Assistance (The Center) believes meeting our need for psychological shelter (or shelter for the mind) is just as important as meeting our need for physical shelter and believes that our ability to address and maintain the material or physical functions of our built environment may, in fact, be critically dependent upon whether or not our need for psychological shelter has been met.
(It may be, that our capacity to reattach a fallen gutter to our house is greater, when, in our house, there is at least one beautiful room to which we are attached).
The Center’s first act of architectural assistance is an ongoing one. It is the establishment of an actual space in the community, open to all who would like to deepen their understanding of their own individual architectural needs or to anyone who would like to join an ongoing discussion of what the evolving architectural needs of the community might be. We began taking such action in May of 2017 by acquiring the property located at 4139 Ashland in the Greater Ville neighborhood. Since this time we have been working to transform the property into a reliable participant in our conversations about beauty and we will continue to work towards making the space one that, in the words of Rudolf Arnheim, “animates the spirit of the community and transmits some of the best of our intelligence and imagination.”
In addition to serving as a forum for discussion about why making space for beauty is both relevant and reasonable The Center also houses actual programs and services that promote and strengthen our ability to do the making.
With regard to making, The Center makes the following assumptions:
- That we are, by nature, makers. We make things because we were made to make things.
That we are consumers because we feel obligated to consume, but we are producers because we want to be productive. Making is our preferred state of being.
We are obligated to eat. We are not obligated to make delicious food.
- Makers are by nature compelled to share with anyone who might be interested a complete description of precisely how they made the thing they made.
Science continually demonstrates that nature doesn’t hide at all what it is made of and how it makes itself. We simply have to learn the languages in which its descriptions are being freely offered.
- That making a beautiful built environment, although a creative act, is not an artistic endeavor. It is the same exercise we all engage in when we make something with care. It is simply the practice of working until we hear our own imaginative advice or direction and then, having enough courage and curiosity, to follow it and continue working
The Center recognizes that our built environment is no different than our natural environment in that (except for the weather and the sky that comes with it) all the beauty we find in both is made locally. We further recognize that the extent to which this beauty is made or developed in either environment is determined by the sufficiency or scarcity of the resources needed to do the making.
The Center’s mission is the revitalization of our innate individual and collective capacity to make a built environment that meets our architectural needs.
Towards this end, we have been developing a system in which knowledge, specialized tools and safe materials can be shared by all members of the neighborhood who want to make meaningful improvements to the appearance of the buildings and the spaces we call home.
This system is energized through the coordination of individual projects in the neighborhood. By linking and synchronizing individual projects we can expand our freedom to be makers as we increase our access to the resources we need do the making.
It is our hope that having such a system in our community will reignite and strengthen our ability to transform a visually severe and discordant built environment, one that produces feelings of discomfort, estrangement, incompleteness, and insecurity, into a visually successful one that gives rise to a sense of peace, dignity, wonder, and positivity. It is our hope that by understanding and addressing the need we have for psychological shelter we might learn something about a method for producing a gentrification from within. A gentrification of our own making that ends in attachment rather than displacement