Reading Summary #2

Reading Summary #2: Irina Nersessova – “Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York

Upon reading Nersessova’s article, I was continuously under the impression of how much she saw promise and the ability for to adapt to life’s sometime harsh conditions for the people of the underground urban communities. Almost everyone has a negative connotation on the “homeless” and less fortunate but even through the trials and tribulations that these people face on a daily basis they still seem to find ways to relate themselves almost adjacently to the people who live a life some people would call privileged.

The people of the underground communities took metal, trash, unwanted items to mix together some sort of structure to call a “home”. This is the most moving part of this article because it clearly shows the ability for someone who is presumed to be homeless to actually have and create a place of their own. This feeling of ownership gives the person a feeling of hope and security blanket to know they still have a place that is theirs. In my opinion, it is a feeling of overcoming adversity. Even though the deck is stacked against the individual they still find a way to believe and move forward. This ability to create is proof that even though you might be homeless, you can still have a home.

Secondly, and in comparison, this idea of being able to find a home while being homeless is also shown in excerpt #12; Morton, The Tunnel 41. Here Manny states, “I feel safe in the tunnel because I don’t care how big you are — even if you have a gun or a weapon — if you don’t know where you’re going or if you never been in there — it has no light, no types of light.” Here he finds security in something that would be more often than not a sign of terror/horror to the normal everyday privileged individual, but for someone who has been forced to adhere and mold their everyday life to their conditions, they are able to find peace in the darkness. It is moving to read these stories because it shows that everyone is going through certain conditions or ideas of loneliness that can always be broken down into a feeling of want or acceptance.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. This saying is very well know and a seemed to be repeated theme throughout this article. Nersessova was simply showing how everyone is cut from the same cloth and just because someone is forced to live in an unfavorable condition that they do not yearn for the same basic principles of self-worth that people with fortunate lives take for granted. The tunnel people are able to see the good in a bad situation and persevere through the tough times.

Reading Summary #1

Reading Summary #1: Sarah Schindler – “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation through Physical Design of the Built Environment”

In my readings, I felt awakened to the ideas and perception of the built environment that Sarah Schindler expressed through her research. Although, it is merely a theory, her case, does hold validity. Human nature, has naturally always been forced to separate or gain leverage, higher position, or better self-worth than the next person. In my summary, I would suggest that Sarah Schindler is merely trying to open the eyes of the people that do not realize that there are subliminal messages that we are forced to subconsciously obey on a daily basis. These messages can be formed in the structure of a city from something as large as highway mapping or something as simple as a long and windy road to a hidden gated community. The way things are designed and where they are located in the city directly affect the type of people that are attracted to those areas. This is also visible in the construction of public transport and the areas assessable by these modes of transport. These deliberate and intelligently structured forms of creating distance is what has always shaped the lower class from the higher class. Now, in more present time, we are starting to see an emergence of a more noticeable middle class. This is an exciting time, in my eyes, because it gives a unique perspective on the built environment from a set of eyes that has experienced life from opposite ends of the spectrum.

The ability of lawmakers and architects to create diversity from bridges, walls, dead-end streets, etc. is most clearly portrayed in Article II – Architectural Exclusion: Practice. In section A, Schindler cites Robert Moses’s Long Island Bridges as a clear example of using barriers to exclude. Here she exclaims how he intuitively designed the entrance of this area to limit the ability of public transport to enter (1953). I don’t believe that this is a clear “slap in the face” to the assumed lower class of not being able to enter an area of higher class but instead it is something that we do not notice unless it is shed light upon. I feel like this is an example of a clear mix of city design/structure and public modes of transport working together to limit exposure of the less fortunate into the higher class, white-collar, area. More often than not, it is only the people on the outside of the fence that realize these clear divisions of class from the architectural walls built around them. In other words, it is hard for someone to gain support of a presidential candidate that claims he understands what the poor needs/wants or what it is like to be in there shoes when they have lived a life of fortune.

All in all, the built environment is not something that is clearly shown to the inhabitants of a particular city or state. This is something that is strategically placed/designed to limit the exposures of certain people into certain areas. I do believe that it is something that was much more limited in the past decades and is now being opened to new theories in present time. We have much more overlap of people into the low, middle and higher class and I believe that this perspective will allow us to grow as a whole and be able to view the world in a much consolidated approach.