Modernity, with its logic of the market, its productivism and its consumerism, erroneously convinced us that the individual was to pigeonhole into a manageable and configurable standard. But we are the opposite of the standard. When we say “we”, we mean each of us. All, in fact, we are different in our own way, with our own limits, time and manner, for physical, cultural, social, or simply demographic reasons.
The principles of “Design for All” have created a greater awareness of the specific characteristics, proclaiming the human right of all for the social inclusion and involving the human diversities in the design process.
In this sense, we believe that we should speak of “Design for Each”: if we enhance the diversities of each one, then we keep all together, overcoming differences.
This assumption requires two distinct meanings of “diversity” and “difference”: diversity refers more to the dimension of quantity, while difference relates more to the dimension of quality. Two persons are, for example, different as regards the height, but different with respect to sex.
At this point emerges the crucial issue of “identity”, understood as idem, the same, what persists despite the variation of time and space. This means that the identity of each one is established through the comparison with that which changes, and therefore more with the diversities (changing), rather than with the differences (not changing).
As architects, we are called to reverse the point of view, which means abandoning the role of the planner and start designing environments to be usable independently by each of us. As well as an art work can be that if it also usable, in the same way we must ensure the same usability of the environment by all. This form of environmental-democratization, this right to the environment in which we live, we think should be the basis of making architecture today. In other words, we need to start to think about the links that connect human beings to their environment, focusing more on what happens “between”, and not only on what simply “is”.
It is how we live that determines the inhabiting, not as we inhabit that defines the living. I want to be the subject of my way of living, and not the subject of a pre-established housing model. With my own diversities I am the one who wants to decide how to exchange with whom and what. I want to be the author of that choice.
The diversities can keep us together, if we share the same values.