Developing Inclusive Community Gathering Places Through Socially Driven Design Strategies
Brooks, Robert Allen
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As cultural diversity continues to increase in U.S. urban centers, and indeed throughout the country, it becomes increasingly important to promote interaction between people of different backgrounds. Many forms of interaction, from simply seeing, to intimate conversation can increase our familiarity and acceptance of cultural differences. In addition, a greater understanding of these differences can lead to communities with a strong sense of togetherness and a vibrancy of local place. As a means of achieving this outcome, this thesis identifies ways in which urban park spaces can promote social interaction between different cultural groups and how these methods can then be used to develop a community gathering place that is welcoming to all. This thesis has developed a unique Social Space Organizational Model based on literature review findings relative to multi-cultural urban park and social space development. The model serves as a foundational framework for the creation of a collection of social spaces that function to accommodate the diverse ways in which different cultural groups use urban park spaces, as well as to provide opportunities for shared experiences that encourage community gathering and interaction between groups. Additionally, the model suggests an interconnectivity of various park spaces that promote a unified social experience throughout the park. Case studies of urban parks designed for use as social gathering places were analyzed against the model. Literature review findings on character qualities associated with social spaces as valued by multiple cultural groups were also explored in the case studies to identify design elements that encourage social interaction and foster positive experiences. Ultimately, these findings led to the creation of a neighborhood social gathering place that is welcoming to many different cultural groups and encouraging of community gathering and togetherness. The design engages multiple community groups by creating a park that is accomodative to a range of needs and uses as valued by different groups. Additionally, the design incorporates a diverse range of social opportunities and experiences that maintain flexibility in their ability to provide for individual as well as community based social experiences.
- Masters Theses