The architecture of healthy communities and designing for connection, with Mark Lakeman of Communitecture: 127

Mark Lakeman for Abundant Edge.png

As I continue to explore the topics of natural building and ecological design in this ongoing series, I had the pleasure of speaking again with Mark Lakeman. Mark has been a big inspiration to me through the architectural work he’s done at the community level, and in exploring what it takes to design neighborhoods and gathering places that help humans to reconnect to their sense of place and overcome the colonial infrastructure that continues to separate us from each other and from lifestyles that include all facets of healthy living. Since I’ve mostly studied design at the building level, learning about ecological and life enhancing ways of designing the infrastructure around us has been very eye-opening to me as I start to consider the larger impact that our built environment has on the way we live and how our cultures are shaped. 

In this episode we take more of a philosophical approach to design than in previous interviews where I’ve focused on techniques and methodologies. Mark speaks in detail about how, especially in North America and other colonized regions, we operate in communities that were designed for efficiency and expansion rather than the health of the inhabitants. As a result, even the basic grid of our streets and the zoning separation between commercial, residential, and industrial areas creates lifestyles where all functions are separated and impersonal. One of my favorite enduring quotes of Mark’s from a TED talk he gave a while back is, “What good is our right to assembly without any place to assemble?” In turn we talk about some of the many projects that he and his teams have worked on to bring places of gathering and assembly back into disconnected neighborhoods and the uphill battle they’ve faced in navigating the bureaucracies and regulatory bodies that make it difficult for people to contribute to public spaces. 

We also explore ideas on how to renovate and rejuvenate our community infrastructure to reclaim our space and in turn become “people of place” once more. 

This is a thoughtful interview that links in with other conversations that I’ve published in the past so I’ve put links to the other interviews that we reference in the show notes for this episode including the original conversation that I had with Mark and his colleague Rhidi D’Cruz from a previous season, if you’d like to go back and hear more about Mark’s background and how he started in community architecture.

Resources:

Mark’s website

Communitecture.net

City Repair website