Reading Analysis 2 – Sarah Schindler “Architecture as a Regulation”

In her, Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design Of the Built Environment, “Architecture as a Regulation” section Schindler argues the concept of individuals consciously isolating certain groups of people from a location through laws and regulations throughout history, so much so that it has become a social norm. Individuals have ostracized certain groups in some cases using means of violence among other things to mark and claim their territory as their own.  Schindler informs the reader the idea and reason behind the strategic separations of cities and towns and how as she states, “…cities were constructed in ways — including by erecting physical barriers— that made it very difficult for people from one side of town to access the other side” (1942).

The title of the section “Architecture as a Regulation” introduces to the reader the idea as Schindler proposes of our physical environment being used as a third method of discrimination. It is the perfect example of certain parts of a town having a certain reputation due to the discriminatory mindsets toward them. Schindler states, “By structuring our relationships, these features of the built environment control and constrain our behavior” (1943). The idea of “systematic social inequality” is introduced, Schindler with the validation of social scientists claims that physical architecture is used as a constraint to keep certain people that are not desirable for a certain part town away with no real reason. And over time, these landscape restrictions are just engraved in groups of people that continue on such divisions, with no true reasoning or evidence. Another concept that Schindler introduces is the idea of “choice architecture.” The individuals that control and built such physical barriers and divisions are also the ones that have the influence concerning who will inhabit such locations. There is no such thing as Schindler and her colleagues explain it as “neutral design.” An intriguing remark that Schindler states that summarizes the idea of “Architecture Regulation” is “These architectural  decisions create  architectural constraints: features of the built environment that function to control human behavior or hinder access—the embodiment of architectural exclusion” (1948).

From Schindler’s perspective, there is a common thread and sort of domino effect when it comes to geographical, political and social influence on discrimination and segregation between individuals and groups of people. In the United States specifically, Schindler states that ‘segregation, integration, and separation are spatial processes’ and so is exclusion and confinement. There is always a way to exclude and ostracize individuals and the fact that in the 21st century that is still a process being done — is no surprise.

Works Cited

Sarah Schindler. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Review, 2015, 1937–2023.

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