THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF ARCHITECTURE: (BEAUTY) + (TECHOLOGY) = (IMPACT)
Giovanni de Niederhäusern, Senior Vice President Architecture
Innovation is something more than simple invention, it is the ability to translate an idea into something that generates a significant and positive impact. Innovation for Pininfarina originates from curiosity, from the willingness to dare and follow unexplored routes.
From this perspective, the history of Pininfarina in architecture is strongly associated to its tradition as car designers, characterized by the constant tension towards beauty and the research of new technological solutions.
An iconic example is expressed in the case of the Cisitalia 202, the first car to be permanently on display in the Museum of Modern Art (the MoMA in New York), whose body in contrast to the cars of the time, was innovatively recognized as a unique single piece, radically changing the way we conceive cars.
When dealing with innovation in architecture, designers have an additional and significant amount of responsibility. “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”- Winston Churchill. Indeed, architecture is, among the applied arts, the one playing the most relevant influence on human beings, resulting in a constant and mutable relation affecting people’s wellbeing, emotions and new technological behaviors.
Cars were probably the first complex objects created by man. Today, architecture is becoming just as complex, bringing together style, engineering and digital technologies. The evolution of cities and the surge of smart buildings provide clear evidence of these emerging factors. This is further confirmed by recent statistics that plant components represent 50% of a building’s total project cost, compared to 20-30% from a few years ago.
Social responsibility and the surge of complexity in architecture are central elements of the value proposition of Pininfarina, summarized on the following equation:
(BEAUTY) + (TECH) = (IMPACT)
Pininfarina has always been known for its ability to create beauty. However, expanding beyond the mere idea of aesthetics and style, it is important to embrace the softer and wider meaning of physical and mental well-being. Beauty is the ability to design an environment where aesthetic, functional and technical elements blend together to instill positive sensations, through the presence of natural and artistic elements.
Pininfarina designs for the user experience. From this perspective, technology becomes relevant both at the moment of design and on the object of design. Indeed, the analysis of existing data allows to conduct pre and post intervention simulations. In this way, designers are able to code and clarify the relationship between design intent and design response. On the other hand, technology might also be used inside the environment to be designed, providing a plethora of possibilities to improve the seamless interaction between the space and the people.
These two elements build the impact architecture has on individuals and society. Therefore, it is important to plan out and measure the intended objectives to be achieved. Social impact should encompass three fundamental characteristics: to be intentional, additional and measurable; the latter is a parameter to enable the calculation of the social return of investment and to make the project scalable.
Pininfarina therefore leverages on new technologies to enrich the world with a broader concept of beauty, where aesthetics, wellbeing and social consciousness become the main pillars to achieve positive impact in people’s lives.