M. ARCH I
urban environment, segregation, cultural activators, architecture, Chicago, multi-use space
Segregation in the United States has existed for many decades. As a result of social, economic, and political factors, community members of different races, ethnicities and social classes tend to congregate and live together in the segregated neighborhoods of America's cities. While social values now are more open to integration than they were a century ago, tradition, familiarity, and social ties keep this segregated distribution alive today. This thesis explores the topic of segregation in cities by asking, how do we create an architecture that breaks through social divides to create more socially inclusive urban environments?
Using Chicago as a case study for investigation, the project proposes that a network of "cultural activators" be placed in these segregated neighborhood pockets, in hopes of encouraging a multi-cultural education in the city. This thesis is not proposing a solution to segregation in the city; it only speculates that placing activators in these neighborhoods will give citizens more access to learning about and understanding other social ideas, beliefs, and values. These activators will not be specific to one neighborhood but will be usable by any cultural community, meaning that at certain times, cultural celebrations and activities can be injected into neighborhoods of different ideologies. The activators are designed in a way that allows for many programs, activities, and celebrations to occur in a multi-use space while being easily understood as a place to encourage sharing of ideas and values among the larger community. Symbolic forms, customizable space, and inter-changing culture identify these sites as important cultural anchors within the city.
Benken, Erin, "Blurring the Divide: Architecture that Encourages Socially Inclusive Urban Environments" (2019). Architecture Senior Theses. 518.
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