FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Dissertations, online materials

Pages:   || 2 |

«Karlo Trost ARCH 251: Architectural History 2 April 14, 2015​ ​The social dimension of space comprises the ways in which the built environment ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --



Karlo Trost

ARCH 251: Architectural History 2

April 14, 2015​

​The social dimension of space comprises the ways in which the built environment shapes

human experiences and interactions. There is a mutualistic relationship between space and power,

whereby space is defined by individuals with socioeconomic and/or political power and power is subsequently upheld by the definition and organization of space. When Dolores Hayden asked: “What would a non-sexist city be like?”, she was asserting that the built environment is dictated by our society's gendered social hierarchy and that architecture represents a physical record of those at the top of this hierarchy. The built environment is comprised of the institutions and structures that benefit certain individuals and oppress others. Capitalism, as a system in which wealthy persons can sustain their privilege, and where this privilege is related to gender and race, has contributed to the construction of the built environment and continues to do so. ​With the rise of postwar suburbia came the proliferation of the suburban shopping centre. Shopping mall architecture had not been thoroughly considered until the architect Victor Gruen began to theorize on the construction and planning of malls, employing merchandising strategies to maximize profits. Considering the greater number of stores and services that are targeted toward women (than toward men), there seems to be a strong relationship between the shopping mall and women as a social group. However, Gruen only briefly discusses the role of women in the planning of his malls, describing them as target consumers. The exclusion of women from his planning philosophy reveals the way in which women are perceived as non-actors in society. Malls were constructed to allow women a sense of freedom, yet continued to restrict their access to places of power. Shopping malls embody the notion that the built environment is, as Leslie society. Malls were constructed to allow women a sense of freedom, yet continued to restrict their access to places of power. Shopping malls embody the notion that the built environment is, as Leslie Kanes Weisman writes, a “form of social oppression [and] an expression of social power.” Women's sociospatial confinement during the postwar era reveals a relationship between socioeconomic gender inequality and the built environment. And so, Gruen's mall architecture, defined by the planning of the mall as a totality (the mall as a single-, double-, or triple-pull plan and the situation of the centre within its suburban context), by the planning of the individual interior spaces within the mall (the organization of interior pedestrian space, the organization of consumption spaces, and the placement of stores, and the placement of stores), and by the mall's interior design, has upheld the gender hierarchy of our imperialist, capitalist patriarchy.

​In current literature addressing women's relationship to the built environment, there is significant focus on the domestic sphere. The suburbs grew out of the postwar baby boom and signified the new and increasing importance of domesticity. Suburbia perpetuated the utopic vision of American domesticity that developed alongside the Cold War, where families retreated into postwar affluence and consumerism. After the Second World War, middle-class women were largely removed from their positions in the workforce. Confined to large homes, far away from city centres, these women became homemakers, which developed as a profession in its own way. A homemaker's place of work was in the home, but she was tasked with child rearing and other domestic chores, tasks that necessitated consumption. Thus, the shopping centre became a spatial extension of her life as a homemaker. Betty Friedan, in her book The Feminine Mystique, discusses “housewifery” as comprising the tasks related to married women, most of whom are unemployed and with multiple children. As the role of housewife or homemaker came to be wholly singular identities, the work associated with these identities grew to be more time consuming. Friedan also comments on the open plans of many suburban houses: the absence of separation between the living room, dining room, and kitchen, entraps housewives in a homogenized domestic space. Understanding women's relationship to the home is necessary for understanding their relationship to the built environment outside of the home.

​Places of consumption prior to the establishment of the suburban shopping mall had already been gendered. The department store was recognized to be a place most frequented by women and was thus organized to accommodate a segregation of men and women. Men's products were sold on ground floors, near principle exits, and women's products occupied the remaining spaces within the building.

Gruen's mall adopts the gendered shopping experience of the department store, perpetuating the gendering of shopping itself. An analysis of his work establishes a relationship between the proliferation of suburbia, gender-based oppression, and the introduction Gruen's shopping mall. And because his model has been so widely adopted, he is responsible, or at least complicit, in the perpetuation of gender hierarchies.

​In Shopping Towns USA, Victor Gruen's written work discussing the planning of suburban shopping centres, the mall is described as the new suburban city centre. Gruen recognized that shopping malls held great potential in contributing to the civic and commercial ​liveliness of the suburbs and so, the primary objective of the shopping mall was to generate capital within the suburban context, that is, outside of the city centres. Northland Center in Detroit and Southdale Center in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, were Gruen's first two mall projects and exhibit very clearly his strict merchandising planning philosophy. Organization of the mall was carefully considered to maximize commercial opportunities, employing the use of “magnets”, in the form of big retail chains, as points of attraction. Northland Center (Figure 1) featured a single-pull plan, with one major attractor, the department store Hudson's, situated at the centre of the mall, around which pedestrian traffic would constantly flow. Southdale Center (Figure 2) featured a double-pull plan, with two major attractors situated at opposite ends of the mall, directing traffic from one end of the shopping centre to the other.

Southdale, being the first enclosed shopping mall, embodied the notion of convenience and represented the ideal consumption space for women. It gave women the opportunity to leave their homes and to shop, in a spacious, temperature-controlled environment, regardless of season. Gruen's shopping centre, as a new building typology, promised women convenience. But what may have been convenient for women – the mall having a great number of stores, each offering different products and concentrated into one location – was, above all, commercially beneficial for big businesses.

​Merchandising planning was created and implemented to assure commercial effectiveness in the mall and to shift important economic activity away from city centres. The various design and planning strategies employed in mall architecture have been used to maximize trade opportunities and to constitute the shopping centre as a suburban city centre and a hub of entertainment. Essentially, the shopping mall acted as a tool for developing the suburbs shopping mall acted as a tool for developing the suburbs ​ Source: Shopping Towns USA (Gruen and Smith, 1960), 133.

Figure 1: Northland Center in Detroit feature a single-pull plan.

Source: Shopping Towns USA (Gruen and Smith, 1960), 135.

Figure 2: Southdale Center in Edina featured a double-pull plan.

​and thus, to further middle-class, white America. The upward social mobility of (white) Middle America is characterized by a specific image, that of the nuclear family. The nuclear family constitutes an economic unit, as well as a means of producing capital. The tasks undertaken by housewives and mothers, such as the preparation of meals, dish-washing, laundry, general house cleaning, and the nurturing and rearing of children, are part of women's invisible labour; labour that is an integral part of the economic microsystem that is the nuclear family. And the aforementioned microsystem is itself an integral part of the suburban capitalist economy. The oppression of women can be defined by their exclusion from social and economic production, or alternately, by their sole inclusion in consumption practices. As a response to postwar affluence, shopping was made recreational and represented physical liberation for women. But when shopping became an enforced part of women's labour, the shopping mall came to represent a form of imprisonment. Capitalism in suburban America was sustained by the private, unpaid work of mothers, homemakers, and housewives, and so the freedom promised by shopping malls, or rather, by consumption within the malls, was nothing more than a lie.

​It would seem that the relationship between women and the practice of shopping is so profound, private, unpaid work of mothers, homemakers, and housewives, and so the freedom promised by shopping malls, or rather, by consumption within the malls, was nothing more than a lie.

​It would seem that the relationship between women and the practice of shopping is so profound, that the history of the shopping mall and its precedents are a history of women themselves. To analyze the malls of Victor Gruen as fabrications of gendered space, we must understand the ways in which shopping practices and the shopping mall have been, over the last century and a half, constituted as female practices and spaces, respectively. Thus an analysis begins with the recognition that capitalism and patriarchy are systems in which persons with socioeconomic power have the ability to oppress minorities and to shape the definitions of gender and space (and their relationship to each other). The emergence of shopping as, firstly, a leisure activity, and then, a female-oriented economic activity, is related to economic class and race. Beginning in the late 19th century, retail spaces, such as department stores, began to be characterized as feminine in nature. Department stores accommodated women through the implementation of rest areas, lavatories, and concession areas. Though the addition of amenities for women in public spaces facilitated the entry of women into the public sphere, retailers were not particularly concerned with accommodating women, but with catering to them in order to increase profits. During the postwar years, as a result of government mandated domesticity for women, shopping was redefined as a task related to housewifery, or professional housework. However, shopping, as a female-oriented practice, seems to be rooted in women's economic status, as well as related to women's unemployment. Women from from the middle, upper-middle, and upper classes could afford to remain unemployed after the war. This is certainly true for white women, who were significantly less employed than African-American women (between 1950 and 1970, black women surpassed white women in labour force participation by at least 5 percent). In a sense, the shopping mall became a necessity for women because it provided them with increased physical mobility, which, along with social mobility, is an important factor in women's autonomy.

​The history of the shopping mall as a gendered space and of shopping as a gendered practice is evident in modern mall designs and planning. Gruen has perpetuated the feminization of shopping spaces and practices because of a desire to maximize profits. In Shopping Towns USA, Gruen describes a hypothetical shopping centre where, out of 500,000 square feet of rentable area, approximately 50 percent is dedicated to or associated with women's interests. This assured that women would be constantly stimulated while in the shopping centre, and that they would constantly be surrounded by pleasurable experiences. The hypothetical shopping centre also features many “neutral” stores and services: food retailers, children's interest, furniture, drugs, optometry, shoe repair, banking and postal service, among others. Considering, the diversity of the stores in the hypothetical, 50 percent is a considerable amount of space to be solely dedicated to women's interests. By creating feminized consumption spaces, Gruen is transforming suburban women's experiences into almost purely capitalist ones. Interestingly, in Shopping, when referring to the generic shopper, he uses female pronouns, indicating that the generic shopper, the targeted shopper, is a woman. By capitalizing on the combined history of women and shopping, Gruen is complicit in the confinement of women to spaces devoid of power.

​The interior design of retail spaces took on a domestic aesthetic that allowed female patrons a sense of the comforts of home while shopping. The department stores of the late 19th century catered to women's needs, not only in terms of products and services provided, but through the domestication of a retail space. Similarly, Gruen attempted to domesticate the shopping mall – to posit the mall as an extension of the home – by placing great importance on the newly recreational aspect of shopping. The notion of shopping as a recreational activity was facilitated most importantly by the creation of places for relaxation: clusters of benches hidden away from major pedestrian traffic. Often, these sitting areas were covered by trees or plants, further emphasizing the space as a separate entity; another world within the mall.

Pages:   || 2 |

Similar works:

«Louisiana Architecture: 1945-1965 Post-War Subdivisions and the Ranch House HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Post-WWII Population Growth and U.S. Housing Shortage: Without a doubt no American industry was harder hit by the Great Depression and the Second World War than housing. Over this protracted sixteen year period, annual housing starts fell to less than 10% of what they had been during the boom days of the “Roaring Twenties.” Numerous architectural practices and construction firms simply “went...»

«ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW with Mr. Wirt Mineau at his home St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin September 30, 1955 by Helen McCann White ©Forest History Society Durham, North Carolina Original publisher’s notice: All publication rights to the contents of this oral history interview are held by the Forest History Foundation, Inc., 2706 West Seventh Boulevard, St. Paul, Minnesota. Permission to publish any part of this oral history interview must be obtained in writing from the Forest History Foundation,...»

«Welcome We appreciate the opportunity to present and learn from our colleagues, both at this session and throughout the VAPP Project. In the spirit of sharing and continuous improvement, we will tell you about our experience to date at Jones Memorial Hospital. Infection Control A unique,dynamic career to be a part of at this time in history. In our 6 year career as ICP’s, my partner and I have learned about SARS, Smallpox, Monkeypox, Bioterrorism, Pandemic Influenza, etc. These are the more...»

«Developmental Prayer November 2014 Developmental Prayer November 2014 Introduction Prayer is a form of expression which has a long and complex history. The language of prayer (and prayers) and the ways in which prayer plays a part in worship and personal devotion have varied and developed according to era and context across a wide span of time. This language and role of prayer is something which we grow into through praying for ourselves, sharing our prayers and using the prayers of others in...»

«The Sociality of Domestic Environments 1. The Historical Shaping of the Home Document ID Equator IRC D1.1 Status Final Type Deliverable Version 1.3 Date August 2001 Task 1. Andy Crabtree Authors Terry Hemmings © The Equator IRC, ESPRC Project GR/N15986/01 Project coordinator: Tom Rodden The School of Computer Science and Information Technology The University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus Wollaton Road Nottingham NG8 1BB United Kingdom Tel. 0115 846 6896 Fax. 0115 951 4254 Email....»

«Ranch Houses Are Not All the Same David Bricker Architectural Historian California Department of Transportation San Bernardino, California Introduction With nearly constant rumbling and clattering sounds of construction, much of American suburbia was transformed during the bustling postwar period. Vast acres of land were subdivided for a multitude of new housing tracts. Their varied patterns of streets, yards, and detached single-family houses rapidly changed the appearance of the semi-rural...»

«1 Once the American Dream I n his book The Epic of America, historian James Truslow Adams first coins the term “the American Dream.” He states, “[The American Dream is] that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.... It is... a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be...»

«Jazz compact Discs for Your Library A recommended list of 102 jazz CDs for libraries starting to collect By Maurice. J. Freedman My vocation is librarianship. My avocation is listening to jazz, enjoying and collecting its expression in all mediums, most especially the LP and all too infrequently live performance. The breadth of jazz material available in the compact disc medium is so limited at this point that even if we had the temerity to suggest a “best of” or “greatest” or “basic...»

«The Architectural History of the London Borough of Brent by Geoffrey Hewlett [N.B.: This article was originally a page on the Planning pages of the London Borough of brent’s website. No attempt has been made to update it.] THE DESIGNATION PROCESS The designation of Conservation Areas in Brent has been relatively sporadic. Recognising the limited staff-time of one officer, areas were designated when staff-time was available to pursue design guidance or as a result of threats to an area, as at...»

«Northwest Ethnobotany Field Guide Over fifty plants native to the Pacific Northwest including detailed information about historical and contemporary human-plant relationships Compiled by Devon Bonady Vaccinium ovatum evergreen huckleberry This project is based on the research and creative work of twenty students at the University of Oregon who enrolled in Environmental Studies 411: Northwest Ethnobotany during fall term 2011. They each created three profiles and accompanying creative work, much...»

«Cambridge Suburbs and Approaches Madingley Road Cambridge Suburbs and Approaches: Madingley Road Prepared by The Architectural History Practice Ltd For Cambridge City Council March 2009 Contents 1 CHARACTER SUMMARY 2 INTRODUCTION 2.1 Background 2.2 Methodology 2.3 Limitations 3 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT 3.1 Brief overview of the development of Cambridge 3.2 The development of Madingley Road 4 CHARACTER ASSESSMENT 4.1 The Assessment Area 4.2 Overall Character and Appearance 4.3 Character Area 1 4.4...»

«THE RANCH-TYPE HOUSE: EVOLUTION, EVALUATION, AND PRESERVATION by MICHAEL KEVIN CHAPMAN (Under the Direction of Wayde A. Brown) ABSTRACT As buildings from the ‘recent past’ approach fifty years in age, the question of how to preserve these cultural resources is raised. This thesis considered one of those ‘recent past’ buildings: the Ranch-type house. Based upon an examination of the origins and development of the Ranch-type house and the architects who designed them in Georgia, the...»

<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.dissertation.xlibx.info - Dissertations, online materials

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.