February 7, 2017
Single Benches and Architectural Regulation
It has become common today to dismiss the idea of how architecture is used as a regulation. In her recent work, Sarah Schindler, a professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law offers harsh critique on how modern architecture creates barriers. Not many people think about physical environment serving as a way of social exclusion. Only few question why cities are developed the way they are.
To put it succinctly, urban planning is widely used to locate certain demographic groups into determined locations. Schindler deplores the tendency to exclude certain people from locations using architectural tricks. Consider how sometimes benches are designed with three individual seats instead of the traditional way. This design is not only for vanity it also serves the purpose of preventing homeless of sleeping in them (Schindler 1942). Moreover, architecture can also regulate human behavior. Lessig an author quoted by Schindler, demonstrates how certain architectural pieces can prevent human beings from interacting with each other, such as highways (Schindler 1947). The essence of the argument is how in minor and macro scales social interactions can be limited, with the knowledgeable application of architecture. Architecture is a powerful tool that has been used to regulate society. It continues to regulate it even more and prevents people from developing truthful social communication.
The upshot of all of this is that as a globalized society we need to push for social integration. We can’t limit ourselves to be spectators in how urban planners limit our interaction. Is a growing necessity for people to interact with each other no matter the differences in backgrounds. Race or socioeconomic status should not be determinants on who merges with who. People need to fight for architectural development that benefits the totality of the social spectrum.
Graff, Gerald, et al. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed, W.W. Norton & Co, 2012.
Sarah Schindler. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Review, 2015, pp. 1937–2023.