Diverse bodies-space politics: towards a critique of social (in)justice of built environments
Stafford, L and Volz, K, Diverse bodies-space politics: towards a critique of social (in)justice of built environments, TEXT: journal of writing and writing courses, 34 ISSN 1327-9556 (2016) [Refereed Article]
Writing has long played an important role in the progression of architecture and the built environment. Histories of architecture are written, manifestoes that form the basis for a designer’s work are written and most importantly, the built environment advances itself through the act of critical writing. Not unlike the visual arts, literature and poetry, the tradition of written criticism has been crucial to the progression of architecture and its allied professions (Franz 2003). This article contributes to architecture and the built environment through the act of a written essay that critiques the problem of bodily diversity to architecture. In particular, the article explores the implications of body-space politics and abstracted body thinking on diverse bodies and their spatial justice. Using Soja’s Spatial Justice theory (2008), we seek to point out the underlying conceptions and power differentials assigned to different bodies spatially and how this leads to spatial injustices and contested spaces. The article also critically analyses the historical emergence of ‘the standardised body’ in architecture and its application in design theory and practice, and looks at how bodies often found on the outside of architecture highlight how such thinking creates injustices. Different theories are drawn on to help point to how design through the use of the upright, forward facing, male body willingly and unwillingly denies access to resources and spatialities of everyday life. We also suggest ways to re-conceptualise the body in design practice and teaching.
narratives of space and bodies, design, body, abelism, diversity