Beyond Aesthetics: Design for Social Cohesion

Author: Wajeeha Siddiqui, Muhammad Mehdi and Sadia Siddiqui

Architecture is not just an art to be experienced visually; it is a field of design which can contributes in the well being of a human on an individual level and a community on a societal level. In most of the Architecture schools, the pedagogical discourse is very superficial, mainly dependent on fancy jargon but hollow in real essence. In order for Architecture to have a meaningful impact on society, culture and environment, interdisciplinary discourse is highly imperative. WM Creative Re-Lab has made a little contribution by corroborating the fact that if, healthy interaction and dialogues are encouraged in design studios, Architecture and Design has the potential to solve grave social matters as well. A design assignment to “Redefine Places of Worship” has resulted in students meeting religious scholars of different faiths, psychologists and even scholars and coming up with non-conventional ideas with respect to religious spaces to encourage social cohesion and tolerance. 



In 2020, Pakistan faced 319 events related to terrorism, resulting in the death of 169 people. Many of these attacks were by individuals with no history of violence or association with any terrorist organization. Such a dire situation requires thorough scrutiny of the root cause of malice and the ways to deal with the problem. One way to alleviate the situation is to gradually change the perception and create tolerance and social cohesion using education as the main tool as Tokuhama-Espinosa, Professor of Education and author of Mind, Brain and Education stated that “learning is always influenced by the social and emotional contexts in which it occurs”. Considering this, the architecture studio brief is an attempt to question the definite causes of religious intolerance and seek common ground to achieve interfaith harmony through art and design. By keeping interdisciplinary teaching methodologies such discussions to encourage critical thinking, interdisciplinary dialogues between various academic disciplines to recognize preconceived biases and researching on ways to find radical solutions for the future; the purpose is to observe whether social cohesion is buildable through constructive dialogue based on arts, and design./ through discourse using art and design as the main medium of projection. Dialogue, instead of discussion or debate, is preferred. Dialogue in the Spirit of David Bohm or the famous Bohmian Dialogue, respects opinions/point of views, encourages listening and values suspension of one’s own judgements.


Current Status: Full-paper is in editing phase.

Image creditsMinahil Muhammad Ali,  M. Nafeel Qureshi, Amna Ansari, Aliya Zehra Rizwan and Hadia Khan