Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.Arch.

Degree Granting Department

Architecture and Community Design

Major Professor

Mark Weston, M.Arch.

Keywords

Private, Intervention, Architecture, City, Simulacra

Abstract

In his 1964 work "One Dimensional Man" Herbert Marcuse describes what he believes to be the de-evolution of industrialized society into the single minded pursuit of commerce. Decades later his hypothesis seems even closer to the truth, as much of our social interaction is now based in spaces that are designed to promote consumption. These spaces are in fact privately owned lots masquerading as public space so as to satiate the populace's desire for "public" interaction without sacrificing their effectiveness as places of commerce. The migration of social interaction into these pseudo-public spaces has also further marginalized the city's remaining public space.

In his essay "Spaces of Uncertainty" Ken Cupers asks "is it only the sterile places with clearly defined use that we can enjoy today? Is it the designer shops, the fancy cafes, or the commercial promenades that provide our satisfaction? What about the young, the restless, the old, the poor, and the ones having been excluded from contemporary public space and therefore removed from society?" Options for inhabiting public space are limited for those who choose to forgo the theater of commercial space (and those who are forced to avoid it). However there is hope in the margins of our cities. The in-between and left behind spaces hold untold potential as spaces for interaction and expression. The struggle against the pseudo-public space utilizes a three-faceted approach with urban interventions inspired by the Situationists and modern street artists. Each of the interventions will be designed to either, inform, identify, or occupy.

First, the city's inhabitants must be made aware of the nature of the pseudo-public space, its effects on our culture and their underlying mechanisms of control. Second, a network of marginalized spaces will be created as alternative spaces for occupation and interaction. Finally an intervention will be organized to occupy space outside the realm of the pseudo-public in a manner that could inspire other such occupations, or at the very least raise awareness as to the potential for non-commercial human interaction in the public sphere.

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