Architecture of care: social architecture and feminist ethics

Care ethics places a person’s relationship to another at the heart of related debates. Rooted in feminism, care ethics is a useful tool for exploring ethical aspects of a recent, international trend in social architecture, in which architects attempt to provide spatial solutions for needs ignored by both governments and private markets. In this article, care ethics serves as the theoretical background against which two architectural projects are examined: the Levinsky Garden Library project, built for migrant workers and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv; and the Wadi Abu Hindi school, renovated for Bedouin communities in Area C, east of Jerusalem, in the West Bank. Both projects were realised in the past two decades, in cooperation with international NGOs and municipal organisations. Joan Tronto has argued that the ability to care adequately is a quality of the morally good person or society. Her approach to care is distinguished by her insistence on placing care ethics in a political context. Applying Tronto’s concept of care to architecture equals widening the professional perception of architects. Based on Tronto’s concept, projects at the intersection of architecture and care ethics create opportunities for mutual modifications across both fields. As such, these projects expand current disciplinary roles, as architects use their professional tools to respond to an oppressive condition, beyond their professional responsibility.