Consequences of a Built Environment: A Summary of Schindler’s Article

Architecture shapes a majority of our everyday lives and is far more influential than most people realize. Built environments change our methods of travel, our homes, and accessibility to certain places. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, this power can be used to exclude and discriminate against people. The majority of people who face this are low-income people in cities, particularly African-Americans. One notable example of built architecture restricting access was in New York. Robert Moses was in charge of creating low hanging overpasses on Long Island parkways. He purposefully built them low so that buses couldn’t fit under them on the way to Jones Beach. As the people that normally use public transport are low-income individuals, he effectively kept them off the beach. While not all examples are this extreme and many are not intentional, this serves to highlight just how powerful architecture can be. Another way built environments influence people is with public transport itself, or lack thereof. Atlanta’s public transportation, MARTA, has been attempting to expand for many years. Suburbs outside the city have refused to let this happen, as they don’t want to become accessible to the people who typically use public transportation. This in turn harms low-income people even more as without public transportation they have no way of getting to potential better jobs outside of the city. The location of public transportation stops is another key factor in restricting access. If they are placed in a location that isn’t safe for pedestrians, it is a clear sign they are not welcome. Suburbs are a prime example of an attempt to keep people out. They are...

Reading Summary One: The Built Environment

The article from the journal Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination And Segregation Through Physical Design Of The Built Environment by Sarah Schindler, focuses on the theory in which architecture and design are subtly used in the world to separate races and different classes of people. It describes the MARTA subway system in Atlanta and how the suburbs of the city fight against the expansion of its railway lines and routes. People with less money may not be able to afford their own car or gas for the car, which prevents them from living far away from their workplace. It is the belief of the middle to upper class people living in those suburbs that public transportation is only used by lower class individuals or even homeless people. Thus with an expansion of routes to the suburbs also comes the expansion of lower class following them. This is also true of the placement of public transportation stops. Public transportation such as buses are said to be more heavily used by lower income poor people. With a strategic placement of the bus stops and routes it is possible to keep these lower income people out of higher income residential areas. Another form of exclusion used in today’s architecture surrounding us is the use of street signs. Street signs can either be used as a method to confuse people or even by directing the flow of traffic. One way signs help funnel traffic to certain areas while keeping it out of wealthier parts of a town. In addition, a lack of signs may be used as a tool of hidden exclusion. Lack of street signs...
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