Architecture + Altruism


The work of architects is embedded in society on every leveland most people on the planet are exposed to architecture 95% of their lives. They walk in cities that have been designed by urban planners, they eat in restaurants that were developed by architects, they sleep in a bedroom that was perceived by an architect – when you think that the virtual world is affecting a society than just think about how architecture has done so for most of history. This is why every architectural intervention needs to be infused with a social consciousness and can’t just be an equation of accommodating commercial profit and square footage. It needs to be well-balanced within a larger context.

Fairly recently, a new awareness emerged about a role in architecture that is beyond simply profit – an additional altruism that combines with the profit-driven motive for construction. In architecture, making a profit and doing something for society need to be part of one product, part of the same building. In our latest design for an office building in Amsterdam, we proposed to add a public theater on the ground floor to create an extra interface with the urban life of the city. The beauty of such considerations is that it can also help the profit component of the project. The theater will attract people to the building, generate additional awareness for the rentable office spaces, generate income by adding visitors to the retail component, and upping the public image of the development – possibly also speeding up the approval process.



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About The Author

Matthias Hollwich is principal of HOLLWICHKUSHNER, LLC, a New York City based architecture and concept design firm. He is also co-founder of ARCHITIZER, a social networking platform connecting architects via their designs. Matthias is driven by the aim to upgrade man-made environments on a human and engaging scale with an ECONIC twist and can be best reached at (

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