Reading Summary 2


In Irina Nersessova’s Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York, she provides insight into Margaret Morton’s photographs of underground and aboveground homes of the homeless in New York City. In Morton’s The Tunnel, she shows how the homeless living in the underground tunnels of New York survive and live through her photographs. When discussing Morton’s pursuit to record urban New York life, Nersessova applies twentieth century Marxist ideas developed by the Situationist International. Situationist International’s concern with the capitalist order, because capitalism maintains the society it has created.Without the abolition of capitalism or any oppressive order, the working-class continues to struggle within the boundaries imposed on them by the system in place. To put it in simpler terms, the wealthy stay rich and the homeless/poor faces new forms of struggle everyday. She goes on to explains how Situationist International’s goal was to eliminate the division between art and life; that is exactly what the homeless are doing when they make these shanty homes from discarded material. The building of homes is also connected to the ability to self-identify, to represent the inner self through the personal and practical art of domestic architecture. The people of The Tunnel and Fragile Dwelling technically have homes they have built. The argument that they do not own the property can be dismissed with the realization that many people do not own the property they live on. It is this vulnerability and the absence of a stable home that categorizes the homeless as homeless. When interview the homeless, Morton discovers the many perspective and difference the homeless can have. For example, in a interview with Larry, he prefers to live in the tunnels rather than settling in the shelter system or aboveground shanties. Larry says that by living in the tunnels he is protected from the traffic and conflict that is happening aboveground that could endanger his life. Nersessova states, “since the tunnel is shelter from the conflicts above, the residents’ choice to live underground demonstrates that the social problems above ground have forced them into an alternate sphere”. In another interview, Morton talks with a man named Pepe. Pepe made money by typesetting and electronics, but after and accident he slowly began to loose money and the Social Security check wasn’t enough to pay rent. So he created his own dwelling in the New York neighborhood of Bushville and became the self-described watchman of the neighborhood. He continuously improves his home, fixing leaks and making it warmer for the winter months. Pepe was going to finish the kitchen and bathroom to his dwelling but was demolished before he could do anything. By building and sharing these homes, they are showing that the homeless can be independent and social responsible. So by destroying these homes, you are actually destroying the integrity of the homeless to survive. Irina Nersessova concludes her article by stating that as long as the majority can’t change their view on these homeless dwellings, as spaces of creative guide to artistic expression also necessary for survival rather than piles of trash.The conflict between the society of the spectacle and the survival of peripheral groups like the homeless will continue.

Reading Summary 1

In Sarah Schindler’s article, Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment, she explains how a city’s architectural layout can promote segregation and discrimination. Often the people who are regulated and constrained are poor people and people of color. In Schindler’s article she reveals how the built environment of certain cities have man-made physical features that prevent the poor and colored people from accessing certain areas and how it is overlooked not only by the common people but the scholars who design them.


These architectural exclusions can come in the form of walls, fences, and highways. These physical barriers disable the interaction between different groups of people in a community.  She also includes that street layouts, one-way streets, the absence of sidewalks and crosswalks; design elements that can shape the demographic of the city and regulates behavior of people by making it difficult to travel through certain areas. For example, some bridges were designed so low that buses could not pass under, preventing people who rely on public transportation unable to access these areas. Some highways are built in order to destroy neighborhood that were in the slums/projects. The designs in the built environment can raise many problems for the poor and colored people, like  Schindler explains how architectural exclusion can limit the poor/color people from transportation, quality of life, and economic opportunities.


Schindler  goes on to state that these exclusionary built environments have been given little attention by Courts, judges, and lawmakers; since most city planners and architects design cities and neighborhoods with hopes in creating more efficient routes and streets to help with the flow of traffic and other such related things. Often these physical regulation are put up by city planners ignorant of the fact that it has effected a certain group of people. But the worst fact is that often people of the community view these architectural exclusion as merely there because it was just designed to be there. Even if a physical barrier is put up in the attempt to segregate, it is difficult to show the intent of discrimination especially involving land use and the built environment. Lawmakers are more concerned about laws that promote discrimination rather than architectural designs, because the built environment does not fit within the definition of regulation as legal scholars traditionally employ the term. As a result the built environment is very easily overlooked when setting new laws. In reality the idea that architecture regulates is found at the core of much urban planning and geography scholarship, unfortunately that body of literature does not always describe architecture regulation, therefore nothing is done.

Sarah Schindler concludes her article by stating that the government is able cover up their true intent behind reason architectural exclusion by making a more efficient the built environment, but really it is to segregate and discriminate undesirable groups of people from a community. She wanted to raise awareness of the regulatory nature of architecture and its role in dividing people within a community. By making the common people of cities realize that designs in their city may be put up for the reason of discrimination, Sarah Schindler hopes to begin taking action against its effects in the future.