Design as Messenger

As designers, how can we use our skills to explore issues that traditionally sit outside of architecture? How can we engage the public and make these issues accessible through design?

Although hard to believe, it is easy to see why individuals, with the help of poor political messaging, may not feel a sense of urgency with regard to climate. The climate crisis is one of the most pressing issues we face yet, many are still to experience direct consequences on their lives. 

This is where designers can step in.

Olafur Ellisson is an Icelandic–Danish artist known for sculptures and large-scale installations that often use natural materials and effects, such as light. Ellisson uses these materials as a means to critique and make the public certain phenomenon of our time. 

One of his projects, Ice Watch, is a takeover of a public square in London where twelve blocks of ice, from the melting Greenland ice sheet have been arranged in a clock formation. The work aims to raise awareness of the climate crisis by providing a direct and tangible experience of melting ice to the public.

How can we as designers and architects use similar tactics to spread important messages to the public? Architecture is inherently experienced by people every day without choice. 

How can we harness this power to spread positive and engaging messages?