The Shelves that Won’t Hold: Material Politics and Social Inequality in Spatial Design Practice | M Sloane | Design Issues

This article discusses how a material divide that leaves vulnerable communities with homes made of poor quality material is perpetuated in the system of spatial design. It examines a vignette about the development of the community theater in London to illustrate the unequal access to and participation in the design process as “intentional problem-solving” by different stakeholders. The discussion outlines how materiality can become the locus of public dispute and power struggle, as well as the key reference point for valuation frameworks and calculation practices. The article points out that material politics within spatial design practice play a central role in legitimizing unequal treatment within the material planning of space, and that individual designers can rarely challenge these structures themselves. 

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