Comfort for students as an advocate for social inclusion on University at Buffalo campus.
For long, architecture has perceived public spaces to be an environment for constant action and social interaction with direct intent. This notion is well-defined by the different kinds of spaces that are designed, from public plazas and courtyards to market and commercial districts. Other public spaces solely seek to provide users with temporary refuge and rest during their journey, all the while offering a host of services. This could be identified in rest-stops, shopping complexes, entertainment arenas, playgrounds, parks and parklets, etc.
However, a university campus is one such urban environment that combines the public qualities from the "real world" with elements of learning and practice, long-term temporary residence, and other amenities, that may or may not have a direct intent other than the purpose of earning a degree and working on future professional skills.
The big question that all of these have in common is this- How could we make public spaces more accessible to those who seek social support, companionship, and comfort during their higher education journey? What happens to those who do not have a natural skill at friendship formation or lose track of the amenities that best serve their personalities, ambitions, and interests? How can architecture and the environment help an individual instill a sense of belonging through comfort?
This research study reflects upon how comfort is evaluated in a complex urban environment and how socio-environmental equity can be achieved in cases of social injustices through the built form. It seeks to analyze social inclusion through subjective interpretation of human comfort on the North Campus, guided by factors such as demographic identity, ability with respect to physical/mental/emotional factors, and social cultures relating to field of study and/or involvement with various student groups/organizations on campus. It also offers methods of documentation of all types of student user experiences, where it challenges the effectiveness of the campus built form in encouraging social inclusion and suggests various possibilities to create a language of social equity through design and policy reforms.
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