Altruistic Architecture

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    Altruistic Architecture

    Ivana Carbajal
    Mar 1, '21 4:05 PM EST

    As the industrialization of America grew in the post-war era, the cul-de-sac emerged as a desirable place to raise a stable family. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we find underdeveloped neighborhoods with a lack of infrastructure and resources to house a family, primarily segregated due to racial inequality in America. We can compare low-income communities and suburban neighborhoods to show the advantages and disadvantages of how our physical environments impact an individual’s development. It’s impossible to talk about architecture and urban design in neighborhoods without acknowledging race and financial inequality.  


    A Need for Design

    I’ve realized I am not writing anything new. There are numerous studies that display great evidence of what the socioeconomic divide creates for an individual and how they either overcome or fail. Children who are raised in low-income communities or disadvantaged neighborhoods are at greater risk to experience depression, antisocial behavior, education failure, and poor health. They’re also more likely to stay within their environments as adults. There is a need for a new method of design in these communities. We must approach any sector of design, whether it be architecture, interiors, UX design, programming, graphic, with a human-centered and empathic approach.

    The Impact of Race

    First of all, it is important to acknowledge that the financial disparities between affluent families and poor families is not exclusively what causes this split between comfortable, suburban communities and poor and underdeveloped communities. Racism does. A white community will typically always be more advantaged compared to a colored community, no matter which living environment they occupy. America was built on the discrimination of colored people which then forced these groups down the totem pole into these poor and underdeveloped communities.


    Changing the Paradigm — What Do We Do? How Do We Implement It?

    Although we can’t deny that there are numerous complex factors that affect life’s outcomes, we can still recognize that noise, materials, light, spatial quality are all going to affect an individual’s experience. The cul-de-sac was considered a great design plan in the 50s by allowing more homes on a tract. However, studies are now showing that cul-de-sacs may not be the best living environment for our overall health. People are walking less in suburbia and driving more, increasing car dependency and air pollution. New research and ideas are out there for us to implement, such as the future of sustainable design. This correlates with health —  mental, physical, and emotional. We can enrich low-income communities by designing classrooms with creativity at the forefront. Developing ways to utilize new materials and interventions of design to develop positive encounters and improve the way people interact in spaces. There is evidence that we are products of our environment, and the longer we stay in those environments determines how much we become of it. Reversing the broken window theory into the visual restoration would induce new experiences. Prioritizing the emotional and mental wellbeing of individuals means healthier individuals, and healthy people mean healthy cities. Our physical shelter protects our bodies, and our mental well-being will protect and strengthen our futures.

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