The Yale Architectural Journal
A Public Catalog of Urban Divides
As income inequality and urbanization reach record levels, our cities are
increasingly divided. Often materialized through architecture, boundaries
define communities for social, cultural, geo-political and economic purposes.
Typically visualized as walls, fences, and security infrastructure, this condition
is familiar and often understood as linear and binary: separating one entity
from the other. However, we seek to investigate divides as a wider mechanism
of global urbanism, and one that is more spatially and socially complex.
In the public imagination, urban divides are often defined by political conflict
and iconized as “other.” Yet today urban divides are not spaces of exception.
Dialogue on urban divides is burgeoning: cities globally are seeing amplified
gentrification, ghettoization and informal growth. The Yale Architectural
Journal’s 50th issue aims to assemble the multiple discussions on urban
divides and unpack architecture’s role. Given that any act of architecture is
simultaneously including and excluding, Urban Divides provides a lens to
explore its larger social impact.
Perspecta is an academic journal published since 1952 by the Yale School
of Architecture and distributed by the MIT Press. It is the oldest studentedited
architectural journal in the United States, is internationally respected
for its contributions to contemporary architectural discourse with original
presentations of new projects as well as historical and theoretical essays.
Graduate students are competitively chosen to edit each issue. Perspecta’s
editors solicit articles from distinguished scholars and practitioners from
around the world, and then, working with graphic design students from the
Yale School of Art, produce the journal. Contributors include some of the
most important figures in contemporary architecture worldwide.
For more information, see:
Perspecta (Yale University, School of Architecture)
Purchase Perspecta 50
Meghan McAllister and Mahdi Sabbagh
Book and website by Alexis Mark
Published by MIT
In the contemporary political climate, border walls, refugee camps and security fences have become iconic representations of power and inequality. But what if the most impactful urban divisions are actually much more subtle? A multitude of spatial and architectural cues mark exclusion throughout cities globally. More often than not, these divisions live in our own backyards (and in architects’ drawing sets).
At the same time, the homogenous city is not the answer. Division can give communities a sense of identity, place, or safety. Yet we must understand who has agency in building such boundaries, and who has the capital and ability to traverse them.
As a starting point, EVIDENCE is a tool for recognizing urban divides. An ever-growing catalog of photos, videos, and other media, EVIDENCE gathers together a record of how we experience spatial inequality in cities everyday. While inequality and gentrification have flooded everyday discourse, they still remain abstract. Tangible proof of how these processes impact the built environment can enable a more productive conversation and more conscientious practitioners.
This crowdsourced collection will be featured in the Gallery at ELL, 670 Commercial St, San Francisco on Feb 1, 2018.
Have photos or videos that represent your experience of spatial inequality? We are always collecting more EVIDENCE for upcoming installations and projects. Please email inquiries to urbandivides(at)gmail.com.
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