March 31, 2011

Architecture and its shadow
inclusion and exclusion.

Within the structure of contemporary cities we see a myriad of spaces which are designed in order to create both inclusion and exclusion. Wherever more than one building is built within a space we create exterior rooms, and thus both interior and exterior spaces are created in order to include certain socio-demographic groups, and exclude those who are undesirable within that space. Traditionally we examine built form and pubic space in terms of figure and ground, positive and negative, and a series of thresholds; this essay will pose the question of whether it is in fact more appropriate to examine spaces in terms of inclusiveness or exclusiveness, in regard to both interior and exterior spaces. Its purpose it to examine what could be said to be the less recognized, violent side of architecture and the urban environment.
Within Carl G. Jung’s theory regarding the human conscious and unconscious mind we can see what he called ‘shadow theory’; this is the ‘other’ which dwells within a section of the unconscious human mind, typically unrecognized and possibly a harmful entity when it surfaces. We see this same ‘shadow’ within architecture and design, an entity which is usually unrecognized and which remains unexamined, the violence of an architecture of exclusion. Within the architectural sphere we can see a typology occurring; a pattern of inclusion and exclusion related to certain groups within the city, and the violent manner in which it is achieved.
If the city is examined in terms of a series of spacial configurations which include and exclude, they can also be viewed as a series of capsular spaces designed to create a number of screens between the inhabitant and their exteriority, public space becomes an area within which a number of individuals congregate, with their individual capsular environments merging to create not an archipelago of individuals, but a continent within the city. Through this capsularisation of city spaces we can see certain individuals and groups being excluded, and pushed ever further from the spaces of occupation.
While individuals create their own conscious capsular environments, within the city there is also a more concrete form of inclusion and exclusion which defines spaces and their inhabitants, that of the capitalist institution.
Within ‘The Right to the City’, David Harvey writes about the dispossession of populations in order to urbanize the city for a variety of reasons. Within the contemporary city we can see this same dispossession of populations of minority groups in order to both gentrify an area for architectural development, and within city centres, to create a sense of exclusion of the ‘have nots’, or undesirables. Public space within Melbourne is increasingly becoming an interior configuration, with both public squares and interior laneway spaces being surrounded by retail shops in order to create a sense of belonging for those buying, and a sense of exclusion for those who are not.
Within urban areas there can sometimes be seen certain user groups who operate outside of the traditionally defined uses for certain spaces. These users transcend the concept of inclusion and exclusion, redefining the typology of the city with each new use that is found for everyday objects. A photographer from the late 1970’s in America wrote the following in regard to skateboarders and their use of the urban environment:“Skaters by their very nature are urban guerillas: they make everyday use of the useless artifacts of the technological burden, and employ the handiwork of the government/corporate structure in a thousand ways that the original architects could never dream of”. Craig Stecyk
The purpose of this essay is to examine the spaces within the City of Melbourne, both in terms of interior and exterior, and in terms of the manner in which they either include or exclude certain social and demographic groups from occupying that space, the means by which they achieve this, and the creative resistance to this exclusion. it will incorporate readings by Carl Jung, David Harvey, Leiven De Cauter, along with personal research and examination in explore this concept of a city of inclusive and exclusive typologies.

Luke Flanagan

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