Space Control and Emancipation: A Brief Inquiry into Zoning and Mixed-Use Spaces

By Jing Xie.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Through a historical review, this paper aims to provide additional understanding of what characterises “zoning” and “mixed-use” spaces other than functional separation and admixture. Space is constructed by social institutions; conversely, social institutions can be spatially constructed. Zoning and mixed-use are both spatial strategies for controlling human behaviour and social practice. To a large extent, zoning serves social institutionalization, while mixed-use on the contrary assists social de-institutionalization, or re-institutionalization. It would be absurd to say that one overrides the other, as each of them has its own social significance in history. Zoning favours a highly instrumental and controllable way of cultivating patterned behaviours, while mixed-use reconciles and balances the power struggle between society and individuals. In other words, mixed-use is a way of creating extra meaning, value and plurality of existing spaces, and by doing this, it dissolves designated social norm and constraints, thereby emancipating people from space control. These two spatial forms are either intertwined, or one supersedes the other in turn, constantly shaping human lives. The striving for individuality, equality and for their associated spatial forms is an abiding theme throughout human history; zoning and mixed-use spaces in most general sense are the manifestations of this struggle.

Keywords: Institutionalization, Liberty, Mixed-Use, Space Control, Zoning

Global Studies Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.203-212. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 589.315KB).

Dr. Jing Xie

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Jing Xie is currently a PhD candidate in architecture and urban design at University of New South Wales, where his research interest lies at study of mixed-use development in history, precisely, the social meanings of space in a broad historical and cultural context, and how individuality and sociality can be spatially constructed. Meanwhile, Jing has been practicing and teaching architecture in both Australia and china for more than 10 years. He received his bachelor degree of Industrial Design from Zhejiang University (China) and master degree of Architecture from UNSW(Australia).

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