Analysis of Schindler’s Architectural Exclusion Theory Pt. 1

In Part I of  “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Designs of the Built Environment,” Sarah Schindler makes two claims. Schindler’s first claim is that, architecture is being used and designed to exclude certain groups of people. The second claim is that  this type of exclusion should be under just as much scrutiny as other forms of exclusion by law. According to Schindler “The Built Environment is defined as man-made physical features that often make it too difficult for certain individuals – the poor and people of color to access certain places” (1934). Schindler points out that historically when people wanted to make decrees that prevent certain groups of people from entering certain spaces this was backed by the law. Additionally, when people from different areas of towns in cities were blocked from getting to the other side of town by  physical barriers, this also was backed by the law. Architectural design that  Schindler determines to be just as exclusionary as discrimination has not gotten any attention from legal scholars.

Schindler provides the simple example of a park design being discriminant against homeless people. If the bench has three arm rests, dividing the bench into three seats, it may not have been put there for comfort and convenience like many assume but to prevent homeless people from being able to lay down and sleep on it. It is noteworthy to acknowledge that the people constructing the built environments and the people responsible for designing this exclusionary architecture, almost always, design it not only in a way the keeps certain people away from a space but also to advance a certain political agenda and focused on flow of traffic. Nicholas Bloomey points out that civil engineers tend focus on how people and cars and other traffic will flow around a city or an environment rather that thinking about how its going to effect the citizens living in this environment; the goal of these politicians and engineers  is efficiency and commuting, thus making money , rather than citizen approval. Some scholars, such as Elise C Boddie and Stephen Clowney, claim that some places have purposeful racial meaning and attached to marginalization by race, which also lawmaker continuously overlook and make no efforts to make amends even when brought to the attention of lawmakers.

Architecture that continues to be exclusive that makes ups a built environment that continues to keep certain people away based upon race, ethnicity, socioeconomic standing, and any other identity is extremely detrimental to citizens of a community it enforces a problematic behavior and mindset of othering and a power structure based upon race which then encourages human behavior that is racists and classist. Additionally, if law makers continue to ignore this then not only does it become acceptable on a citizen to citizen level it becomes the “law of the land” and acceptable at a legal level, leaving these citizens  are being excluded,  unprotected and alienated from society.

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