With rare exceptions, we tend to think of architects as working in the domain of the rich and the commercial. Not so Bryan Bell or the other contributors to this volume who have often forgone high commissions to devote themselves to developing a real architecture for poor and underserved communities in the US and abroad. Much of the housing developed for the poor has been built using cookie-cutter models, making the units sterile in appearance, unappealing in design, and often lacking in critical elements that allow for functionality. In Good Deeds, Good Design, architects and designers who have been working among the poor share their experiences, challenges, frustrations and successes. From migrant housing in Georgia to low-cost housing in India, to middle class housing in America, Good Deeds, Good Design looks at the tools necessary for change: community involvement, government cooperation, and flexibility in design.
Bryan Bell taught at Rural Studio and is founder of Design Corps, a nonprofit agency providing architecture to those traditionally underserved by the profession. He spent twelve years in the trenches working to make architectural services available to a greater part of the general public. After degrees from Yale and Princeton, he started working with non-profit agencies that specialized in serving the very-low income. I felt that I had left architecture. Now I just define architecture differently.