UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Placemaking, sites of cultural difference : the cultural production of space within a University construct Archibald, Diane


This inquiry investigates the cultural meaning of architecture, and the notion that different cultures produce and experience space differently. This investigation focuses on cultural issues of space and place as related to ethnicity, gender and their combination. The site of inquiry is the University of British Columbia, a postsecondary educational institution founded on philosophies, ideologies, and values grounded in British scholastic traditions. The university, which is situated on traditional Musqueam land, and which has a large student population representative of diverse cultures, provides a unique site of study. Within the institutionalized spaces of the university, alternative educational spaces have emerged and coexist. For the purpose of this inquiry the university is considered as the dominant norm with the three alternative sites representative of cultures of difference. The alternative sites included in the study are the Centre for Studies in Curriculum Instruction, the First Nations House of Learning, and the Centre for Research in Women's Studies and Gender Relations. The institutionalized spaces of the university are not experienced by all cultures in the same way. They are viewed as Western cultural constructs of space that differ from and are often incommensurable with cultures of difference. Given the cultural location of the user of the space, based on ethnicity and, or gender, the institutionalized spaces of the university are experienced differently. The objectives of this investigation are: to view knowledge as a spatial construct; to view the differences of cultural constructs of space as to race, ethnicity and gender within educational sites; and to view the multiplicity of the cultural meanings of a space given the cultural location of the observer moving through that space. The methodological approach applied to this study is a discursive historical spatial analysis inclusive of architectural drawings, conceptual drawings and plans, maps, archival research, on-site spatial analysis, and participant meetings with users and "conceptualizers" of the respective sites. Although each alternative site is representative of cultural differences, diverse philosophical processes and spatial practices, commonalties emerged such as notions of cultural inclusion, embracing difference, alternative ways of knowing, alternative ways of constructing knowledge, repositioning "other," community, placemaking, and creating a spirit of place.

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