It’s more than “just a park bench”

In his “Architectural Exclusion article, Schindler discusses how architectural decisions actually excludes individuals. For instance, a park bench with armrests seems aesthetically pleasing. However, the arm rests also keep homeless people from being able to sleep on the bench. Similarly, gated neighborhoods are exclusive and noninclusive to those who do not reside within.

Taking Schindler’s points about architectural exclusion into consideration, the effects of architecture in D.C. on lower-income communities seems much more prevalent. A common example could be the distance bus stops are from the ghetto and lower-income communities. Walking over a mile to a bus stop does not seem bad if you are an average healthy person. However, for those who are sick or disabled, it can be extremely challenging – especially in non-optimal weather. The location of the stops can negatively affect a person’s attendance at work, which could affect stable employment. Unemployment will only further separate them from mainstream society.

 

Fig.1. Park bench with railings. Impossible to sleep on.

Furthermore, Schindler also discusses how people in lower income communities ward off unwanted visitors with violence. She states,  “Social norms encouraged some to threaten undesirable persons with violence if they were to enter or remain in certain spaces” (9). However, the separation from mainstream society is a large factor in how they deal with conflict. Being socially isolated by architecture and relocation from most of society, they have developed their own norms that are vastly different from the mainstream. Violence is just a means of dealing with conflict for them.

Thus, something as simple as a far bus stop or benches with railings, go right above the mainstream person. We don’t realize the larger impact such small decisions have. Everything is done with a reason and more often than not, a reason may be good for one group and detrimental to another.

Schindler, Sarah. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Journal, vol. 124, no. 6, April 2015

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