Schindler’s Architectural Deconstruction

A Breakdown of Sarah Schindler’s “Architectural Exclusion”

In her “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment,” Sarah Schindler seeks to illustrate the harsh reality that comes with today’s infrastructure. Either unconsciously or totally aware of their decisions, designers create built environments that exclude individuals with certain racial backgrounds, or create a division to avoid merging.

Throughout history, as the author points out, there have been numerous methods to control the entrance of unwanted people to any place. Social norms, like aggression, have dominated in terms of targeting against individuals in “certain spaces,” but noticing the fact that infrastructure can do the same a lot more subliminally is highly significant (Schindler 1942). The author makes a case for the relevance of her argument in modern-day society in Part I of her article by affirming that “spatial experiences” shape a person’s life because the act of segregation and limitations are concepts that have to do with the space we all live in (1949). If a street is not developed in X city, with whatever reason is given, that would allow black people to cross to the other side to buy groceries in a predominantly white, it influences how they perceive the outside world and themselves.

MARTA // Atlanta

In other words, what Schindler means to say is that the easiest way to segregate in an incognito fashion is by building structures, making streets, or not assembling anything (as is the case with the Atlantan Caucasians who refused to have the MARTA expand in the neighborhood because they did not want colored people to enter the area) (Schindler 1937). Sarah Schindler’s article asks the question, “If the damage our built environment decisions causes continues to be prominent, and people are aware of it, specifically people in the legal system, why has nothing been done about it in a larger scale?” Architectural exclusion, as the author calls it, goes far beyond the inequalities in diverse geographic locations, which lawyers have acknowledged. It is about the way in which our cities are built, how our houses are built, in the way our regions inadvertently exclude and include. Essentially, what the author attempts to do with “Architectural Exclusion” is expose a part of our day to day that is ever so present, yet ignored. The way our environment is built shapes who we are, who we interact with and do not. In a way, Schindler wants to say, we control our built environment, not the other way around, and something should be done about the way we disregard this truth.



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