MArch 4 Studio 3

Just Space

Spatial and social inequalities intensify the marginalization of vulnerable people across the globe. While injustice is especially perpetuated at the policy level, how built environments are designed can also facilitate oppression. Architects can be complicit in producing exclusionary urbanisms. At times they create spaces that remain hostile to vulnerable groups, for example, by satisfying the needs of “standard” users while neglecting those of “others.” At other times, architects end up perpetuating inequalities while seeking to navigate complex, and often conflicting dynamics: as they answer their clients’ briefs (at risk of being removed from the process), address expectations of other parties (planning authorities, local individuals, and communities), or even as they try to operate with the interests of future generations in mind. 

There is then no doubt that how spaces look and function can facilitate social exclusion, and that architects play a role in advancing inequalities. But can design also serve as a tool of empowerment for marginalized groups?

The studio examined this question by focusing on Budapest, a city where gentrification processes, rising housing prices, and the commodification of history intensify the marginalization of vulnerable groups—e.g., lower income residents, precariously housed people, and racialized minorities. Three themes of inquiry were proposed: Inhabiting, asking who inhabits Budapest, and what are the different needs of these people. Marketing, asking who has the right to profit from the image of Budapest, and by trading what. And Trespassing, asking how physical and symbolic boundaries across Budapest affect the social reproduction of privileges (e.g., Danube, railways lines, UNESCO designated “historic” areas). 

Studio Lead

Francesca Piazzoni
Valentino Capelo