A Woman's Place

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dc.contributor.author Jacobs, Alissa
dc.date.accessioned 2022-05-11T13:18:01Z
dc.date.available 2022-05-11T13:18:01Z
dc.date.issued 2022-05-11
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10429/2313
dc.description Accessibility is one of the most important concepts in public space architecture. Designers should aim to make spaces that can be used and shared by people of different ages, races, gender, and abilities. However, the majority of shared spaces are designed with the idea of the white man as the average user. The use by other groups is often treated as an additional hurdle to tackle, not as a part of standard. In particular, public outdoor spaces are not created with the ideas of safety and comfort for women at the forefront. Is there a way architects and designers of space can change this? The study of fear in public space has generally centered around the fear many women have of assault by strangers in the night. Though this is a universal fear common among women and nonmen, it is also understood to be caused mainly by perceptions of spaces as being unsafe, rather than the actual likelihood of such an event happening. The perceptions of every individual come from many sources, such as past experiences and personal feelings, along with other outside sources such as media. Research such as Day’s works have shown that women feel more unsafe in public outdoor spaces than men. Issues such as low visibility, physical inaccessibility, and lack of comfort feed into these perceptions of unsafe space, and actual statistics of crime do not greatly affect how spaces are perceived. Improving how a space is perceived improves the experience of the user and drives further use of that space. The creation of collages, diagrams, and other forms of imagery has facilitated a deeper understanding of the perceptions of myself and others. This thesis aims to understand differences in how men and women perceive public spaces, with a specific emphasis on the perception of safety in outdoor public spaces, as well as how designers can alter how safe users feel in a space through a feminist design lens. This research culminates into a set of guidelines for gender equitable public space, with a redesign of an existing corridor in Detroit using a newfound understanding of individual perception. For architects, perception is what drives experience and use of space. Studying perception through a gendered lens is valuable as designers aim to create more equitable spaces with the differing needs of many in mind. These and other findings can be used to create spaces which feel safer and more accessible, improving their likelihood of use. en_US
dc.description.abstract This study investigates ways in which perception of outdoor public spaces is influenced by gender. Often, studies of gender and fear in public space have been centered around perceptions and fears experienced almost exclusively by women. Such studies note that women experience higher than average levels of fear in outdoor public spaces, such as parks and streetscapes, despite not being at higher risk for physical attacks than men. How can better design of these spaces change this phenomenon? The purpose of this study is to understand unique ways in which gender affects perceptions of public space and how designers of the built environment can create spaces that are perceived as safer and more accessible for women. In studies of perception, imagery, collages, photography, diagrams, and interviews have been used to understand differences in how many people– regardless of gender– perceive space. A framework for designing gender-equitable spaces emerges from this research, which emphasizes the importance of visibility, accessibility, and comfort in creating public spaces. The study of womens’ perceptions of space has become more relevant as designers question the notion of men being used as the design standard, and as many different user groups are becoming more represented in the realm of architecture and urban design. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject gender en_US
dc.subject perception en_US
dc.subject identity en_US
dc.subject experience en_US
dc.subject accessibility en_US
dc.subject feminism en_US
dc.subject feminist design en_US
dc.subject gender-inclusive design en_US
dc.subject intersectionality en_US
dc.subject urban design en_US
dc.subject public space en_US
dc.subject fear en_US
dc.title A Woman's Place en_US
dc.title.alternative Understanding perception and experience in public space through the lens of gender en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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