Architecture/Education: Spatial Empowerment through Capacity Building
Tang, Sue Anne
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Architecture is too important to be left solely in the hands of architects, developers, and builders. All have the right to build, alter, and inhabit spaces that meet their needs and desires. For this condition to occur, individuals must have the psychological capacity and social legitimacy to become active agents in spatial discourse and production. Without capacity or legitimacy, the individual will not be able to act. In this thesis, the process of an individual developing from a passive user of space into a spatial advocate, instigator, and creator is framed as spatial empowerment. The thesis offers spatial empowerment strategies and tactics for non-architects within three domains. (1) Capacity Building of architectural knowledge, spatial skills, and critical thinking is achieved through education and reflective practice. This ensures an increase in an individual’s capacity for spatial decision making. (2) Inclusive Practice within the architectural process and pedagogical approach leads to social legitimacy of the individual. Inclusivity is achieved through participation and community building. (3) Spatial Action, the intended outcome of the spatial empowerment process, is conditional on available empowerment opportunities, the mobilization of resources, and the ability to implement, monitor, and evaluate the process. The praxis-based thesis research, conducted through literature review and workshop analysis, culminates in a spatial empowerment guidebook. 1-to-1: A Guide to Spatial Empowerment, provides information and ‘lesson plans’ for an individual to increase their spatial capacity, foster inclusive practice, and promote spatial action. All can lead the way to a hands-on, open-ended, inclusive, and empowered spatial reality.