Shouldn’t All Architecture Be Designed with Empathy?
A case of affordable housing design in Zanzibar
Keywords:Affordable housing; inhabitant engagement; human-centred design; design methods; empathic design
Rapid urbanisation and, as a result fast growing informal areas, increase the need for affordable housing. This urgent need requires new forms of input from the architects active in the Global South. The profession must adapt and evolve. Based on previous research, I argue that to build sustainable communities, the residents must be heard and be part of the development process. To involve residents, architects can use new contextually suitable and effective design methods. The study comprised action research on an affordable housing design project in Zanzibar, Tanzania. This paper presents the early stages of a design process for a project still in progress. A close look at the Zanzibar case reveals four human-centred methods from the design discipline to the architectural design process: applied ethnography, empathic design, contextual design, co-design and participatory design. Through the analyses of these different methods, I explored the importance of empathy while designing in settings with contextual constraints. The study revealed the potential of developing empathic methods from the design discipline in the context of architectural design. Further, it suggests that empathic methods can be used by architects pursuing sustainable development.