Queering Architecture: Appropriating Space and Process

by Marissa R Campos

Institution: University of Cincinnati
Department: Design, Architecture, Art and Planning: Architecture
Degree: M. Arch.
Year: 2014
Keywords: Architecture; queer space; homeless youth; sexuality and gender; appropriation
Record ID: 2042896
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1397466885


This thesis supports the philosophy that queer spaces are spaces of appropriation and spaces of empowerment while exploring and challenging the assertion that queer space cannot be designed. Understanding queerness requires an appreciation of the relationship between identity and the intricacies of biological sex, gender, and sexuality. While the heteronormative functions with the assumption that sex, gender, sexuality and gender roles align, queerness embodies a fluidity that allows for operation outside of this norm. This project addresses queer, youth homelessness in Chicago, Illinois where there is an estimated 1,448-3,000 LGBTQ homeless youth. The issue of LGBTQ youth homelessness is not unique to Chicago; however, as the largest city in the Midwest, it attracts more throwaway and runaway, queer youth than any other city in the region. Although Chicago has a strong queer community and identity, there are a lack of resources and spaces that cater specifically to queer, homeless youth. This project provides a place for youth to access integrated services as well as housing. Through spaces designed to reflect and respect the diversity of queer identities, the goal of the project is to empower and enable. Aaron Betsky’s book, Queer Space (1997), addresses the history and meaning of the notion of queer space and those who occupy it. However, the scope of his work is limited and excludes many issues regarding gender identity, race, and class. Building on Betsky’s definition and discussion of queer space, this project expands the definition to include a more diverse group of queer individuals as well as explores how one designs queer space with the understanding that it has traditionally been established through the act of appropriation. The discussion on constructing and subsequently deconstructing social constructs plays a pivotal role in understanding how one occupies a space. The queering of architecture must focus on reflecting the fluidity of the various layers of identity we all express or repress. Thus, the queering of space requires the appropriation and queering of the architectural process itself and current modes of representation. The goal of this thesis is to engage in this leap from queer and feminist theory into the realm of design in order to address current and critical issues, through the operation of queering both the architectural process and space.