Minor Architecture as Building Practice: Environmental Justice and the Politics of Urban Modernization

By Bradley Angell.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Urban spaces are conventionally understood to be designed by architects, landscape architects and engineers per the greatest utility in furtherance of communal objectives. Underlying this rational paradigm, there is an unspoken politicization in the creation of appropriate urban spaces with the dominant culture’s language of construction. As variants of the dominant culture homogenize under globalization, criticism of any single local dominant culture is increasingly applicable on a larger, global scale. Historically within the purview of the environmental justice movement, this criticism highlights the importance of integrating policy, legal and cultural expertise so as to best avoid the inequitable redefinition of urban space.

Although there are a number of methods in which to respond to issues of development inequity, select communities facing disenfranchisement have reacted by self-producing their own built environment within the dominant culture as purposeful urban-architectural forms (“UAFs”). These expressions are installed to subvert the existing power dynamic in favor of the minority’s political desire, manifesting as a minor architecture. I have identified and tested four UAFs employed for this purpose, including the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District, Tibetan Government-in-Exile, Arcata Cannabis Community, and the Student Bonfire. For each that proves valid, I argue with my findings that those communities who execute a minor architecture not only avoid communal disenfranchisement, but simultaneously counter-modernize against the inequity caused by the dominant culture’s modernization of urban space.

Keywords: Urban, Urban Design, Architecture, Architectural Design, Disenfranchise, Marginalize, Critical Production, Nuisance, Globalization, Global Modernization, Deleuzean, Minor Architecture, Urban-Architectural Form, Tibet, Student Bonfire, Isla Vista, Arcata, Cannabis, Counter-Modernize

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.101-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.508MB).

Bradley Angell

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Architecture, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA

Bradley E. Angell is a licensed attorney and trained architectural designer residing in Santa Cruz, California. He is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University.