Industrial growth brings jobs but, if poorly regulated, it comes at an environmental and human cost—especially at the bottom end of the manufacturing pyramid. People living in informal settlements often depend on factories for jobs, the same ones that spew waste into the waterways.
This issue examines two questions affecting industrial architecture: How might a factory become a responsible citizen of the community and planet? How might it become more people-centric, focused on health and dignity? The answer lies somewhere between design thinking and corporate ethics.
Let’s start with design.
Paramit’s Factory in the Forest looks like no factory we’ve seen. It could, at first glance, be mistaken for an institutional development. An overarching canopy delineates in-between spaces, one that blurs the boundary between indoors and outdoors. What’s important here is the logic implicit in form, the goal of a biophilic experience—links to greenery, daylight and views—as the first step to well-being.
William McDonough’s Method factory in the USA is a sterling example that shows how ethical corporate thinking connects with design actions.
Finally, in this issue, we see industries for a new age: solar farm, waste-to-energy plant and organic food farm. These do not have clear antecedents in industrial architecture, and so there are some interesting innovations of form. The solar plant in Rajasthan, for instance, generates power and collects water in a desert climate.
Remember that none of this means much without good governance. Policies on resource use and waste management will shape the factories, plants and warehouses of the future. Corporate accountability to these policies and an empowered workforce will translate to meaningful action. In this issue, we offer a glimpse of what that confluence might look like.