L’Architecture D’Aujourd’hui — “Networks and Social Connections”

Jeanne Gang

L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui no. 416 (December)



Jeanne Gang explores how civic buildings can increase social opportunity by conceiving of them as part of a network.

“The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the notion that the human environment, at various scales, should be divided into separate, specialized spaces according to different functions. This was thought to benefit individuals and society by increasing efficiency, economy, hygiene, and other conditions.

Design, then, focused heavily on separation and delineation of difference. A skillful architect, urbanist, or landscape designer was one who could best organize and articulate the distinct "boxes" of domestic life, work, culture, civic life, transportation, or nature. And their creative success was largely judged by how they composed or expressed this differentiated paradigm through material, structural, and other physical means.

Today we are coming to live and to understand life quite differently. The digital revolution offers us the opportunity to blend, network, and knit back together our work and home lives--for better or for worse, depending on whether you can turn work off. Cultural, political, and economic changes have loosened other formerly rigid distinctions. And science--in particular, the field of ecology--now offers us a completely different worldview. Rather than seeing the planet as composed of a hierarchy of individual species, we are beginning to understand the complex web of relationships between all living and non-living things that bind together our shared environments. ...”