The Third Space [M1]

This studio will explore community development, cultural complexity and displacement, place, and identity through the programming and design of a Third Space which will engage the built and social fabric of one of the United States’ most intensely gentrifying communities, South Atlanta.

South Atlanta was created as a land grant in 1867 to be settled by formerly enslaved African Americans after the Civil War. Once a prominent community, and home to Clark College & Gammon Theological Seminary, a movie theatre, and musical venues, South Atlanta carries a unique cultural history marred with overt prejudicial tactics. The vestiges of these discriminatory practices remain severely impactful on the community. Today South Atlanta’s rapidly changing demographics due to gentrification has resulted in cultural and political displacement and intensified police encounters of long term, lower-income, residents; and exacerbated sociospatial segregation between newcomers and the existing community.

The studio will partner with the nonprofit organization Project South. Students will begin with an exploratory research phase which includes discussions and interviews with South Atlanta residents and nonprofit leaders to develop an understanding of the conflicted history and state of the community. The oral histories will inform design speculations in the second phase in which students are tasked to ambitiously create a program and speculative design of a Third Space on the 4.7-acre site of the 9 Gammon Building. 

The 9 Gammon Building is recognized as a hub for community development, project creation, and civic decision-making. Despite being in disrepair, the 9 Gammon Building currently houses 5 different entities. Each provides services and community engagement opportunities to primarily poor and underserved residents of South Atlanta. The studio will focus on reinvigorating underutilized spaces, innovative programming, and reimaging of existing infrastructures, of the 9 Gammon building and/or its 4.7-acre site. Our theoretical positioning of Third Space will draw from 1. the urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s definition of Third Space as places, other than home or work, for social inclusion and interaction by otherwise disconnected groups and 2. Post-colonial theorist and Harvard Professor, Homi Bhabha’s Third Space as a liminal space ‘which creates something different, something new and unrecognizable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and understanding.’

Student performance will be evaluated through studio work and participation, pin-ups, and final review. Thursday and Fridays are studio sessions.

This course has an irregular meeting schedule. 

Cory Henry will be in residence Thursday and Friday on the following days: September 2, 3, 30; October 1, 7, 8.

The instructor will also hold class via Zoom on the following Thursday and Fridays: September 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24; and for final reviews.