Community Space in the Urban Context

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Virginia Tech

Division is everywhere in our culture. We are divided by races, economic level, political affiliations, religion, nationality, and the list goes on, and on. Everywhere we turn we are faced with things that divide us, but we are rarely brought together. There are very few things in the world that allow us to set aside our differences and come together. Unfortunately public housing complexes in the U.S. have far too often served as a dividing factor in our society. As many public housing complexes have become synonymous with violence, neglect, and criminal activity, residents have been forced to avoid the public spaces, allowing them to become deserted community wastelands.

But we can reverse the trend. This thesis will show that by creating spaces that encourage interaction between people, such as community centers, public parks, and retail nodes, we can begin to restore social housing complexes. By removing some of the barriers from our society we can help people reconnect with their neighbors and become more involved with their communities. This thesis will show that the removal of barriers from our public life also highlights the importance of reinforcing barriers in our private lives. This thesis will also demonstrate that bringing together different groups can not be accomplished by a single building but is most effective when accomplished by a group of buildings working in conjunction with each other. This thesis will show that careful planning and architecture can serve as the catalyst for bringing together people and communities.

Division, Community Center, Neighborhood