Identity Crisis: Reinterpreting our Boundaries & Communities

Project (Thesis)

Nicholas Tomaszewski, MARCH


Thesis committee chair: David Cronrath AIA, Professor and Dean

Thesis committee member: Michael Ambrose, Clinical Associate Professor

Thesis committee member: Madlen Simon AIA, Associate Professor


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Communities are defined as a unified body of individuals sharing common interests, values, and/or beliefs. Often we speak of community as a united population, which bonds people together. However, Structuralist studies of Claude Levi-Strauss and Edmund Leach, in conjunction with the arguments of Richard Sennett, reveal communities are founded upon ideals of homogeneity and identity, through the generation of boundaries. The cultural construct of boundaries suppresses the complexity of the world around us, to rationalize and organize a more understandable one. Through the manipulation of architecture, boundaries may be reinforced to support a single interpretation or division of the urban context. However, this exploration seeks a different perception of contextualism, taking into account the complex variety of continuities and discontinuities apparent within our surrounding cities. Ultimately, this research and exploration attempts to generate an identity crisis, through the amplification of ambiguous space, which exists in the reality of urban form.

Nicholas Tomaszewski
Spring 2013