Date of Submission

Spring 5-7-2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Department

Architecture

Primary Advisor

Jeffrey Collins

Abstract

When I was 11 years old, I moved back to the United States, after having spent my whole childhood in Ecuador, my parents native land. I was moving back to the land of opportunity in the search for the so called ‘American Dream’. It was difficult to leave and move to a new place where we did not know anyone or have anything, but just the idea of a going back to my hometown piqued my curiosity and excitement. I remember very vividly, the day I left Ecuador. I remember telling myself to be happy, because this was a moment of celebration, the start of a better life. Once here everything was so new and quite different. I had now been exposed to new culture, to new geared knowledge but to the world of accessibility and opportunity that for once in our life seemed attainable. Before I knew it, I was already being introduced to this new identity, that I didn’t really fit in, but I was part of. I had two choices at the time, to assimilate to this new culture, to this new city, to new perspectives and dreams, to a new language or leave. The reality is that although the United States is a nation of immigrants, it still struggles to identify itself as a multicultural nation, in the need for the silenced individuals to have a sense of identity in their own homeland. Their lack of acknowledging the diverse cultures that inhabit the nation has lead many minorities to experience an identity crisis where diversity becomes a “superficial overlay that does not disrupt any comfort zones.” As a result, individuals that don’t fit the Euro-Anglo mold are then view as out of place or exotic within their own homeland; forcing those who are different to either assimilate or to leave. However, the Euro-Anglo perspective can even be worse for those who do fit the mold because it creates a superior race. Therefore, I believe its critical that we reject the traditional singular culture approach that impacts the built environment and proposes the implementation of design decisions that reflect the real United States. Following Gloria Anzaldúa model, I plan to draw from my own personal experience as a Ecuadorian-American from a working-class background and use architecture as tool capable of challenging the social, political, economical foundations of the United States that create divisions within cultures. Where the architecture can be view as a language that is and breaks human made boundaries capable of communicating and appealing to the senses in hopes to mediate this identity crisis. Through design decisions, one can stimulate the inhabitant through the enhancement of experience, but also allow them to know themselves, in the developing of their identity as well as create a sense of place, of belonginess. Spaces where individuals are distinct in their history, knowledge and perspective but are in constant dialogue with each through the sharing of cultures in inclusive spaces, where you do not have to be same to share a space.

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