We understand architectural assistance to mean the provision of information, resources and help in meeting our need for a visually successful built environment or, what we call, psychological shelter. The Northside Center for Architectural Assistance considers our need for psychological shelter to be just as important as 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.
Architectural assistance is predicated on the notion that our buildings are, for better or worse, our partners. We feel joy when we find just the right room or the right apartment, the right house or the right neighborhood to call our own. Conversely, we know genuine sadness when we must, for whatever reason, leave behind a space to which we felt a strong connection. We feel discomfort when we are forced to inhabit a space or a live in a neighborhood that isn’t “right for us” or is devoid of even a single quality we consider beautiful. We know 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 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 make a positive impact on or expand the sense of psychological shelter our built environment can provide.
The first act of architectural assistance 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. The Northside Center for Architectural Assistance began taking such action in May of 2017 by acquiring the property located at 4139 Ashland in the Greater Ville neighborhood (Boundary Survey of 4139 Ashland).
Such a space may best facilitate such discussions if the space itself, in the words of Rudolph Arnheim, “displays something of the spirit that animates or ought to animate the community and transmits some of the best in our intelligence and imagination.”
In addition to being a forum for discussion about why making space for beauty is both relevant and reasonable such a space must also provide actual programs and services that promote and strengthen our ability to do the making.