Building a community in a cultural district as a medium for creating intimacy and social affiliation with interiors: Case study of the Ames train depot as a community building

Byun, Kyoungmee
Major Professor
Cigdem Akkurt
Committee Member
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Art and Design

This study addresses the potential value of an interdisciplinary dialogue between environmental psychology and interior design. It addresses the importance of creating intimacy and social affiliation within a building as part of a project revitalizing a cultural district.

Revitalization of cultural districts can be profitable for society and also can provide better public environments. Potentially revitalization offers inherent opportunities for addressing matters of ecology and economy. However, the primary function of many downtown areas has shifted from exclusively economic purposes to a broader range of social and community related purposes (Brooks, 1995, 14-29). Therefore, Main Street programs which tend to emphasize superficial appearance may be falling short of potential success by undervaluing building interiors.

"Melody is like seeing someone for the first time, physical attraction; sex. But then, as you get to know the person, that's lyrics; their story; who they are underneath. It is the combination of two that makes it magic..." (Marc Lawrence, 2007, Music & Lyrics)

With this metaphor, good community spaces for people contain their story within them - intimacy and social affiliation. Also, it is widely accepted that interior design is one of the most personal and human-scale of the design disciplines. Community space is for interaction between people, making it fitting for study. As such, the interior is at the scale where concern for quality of life and human interaction are most important. The spatial arrangement of persons, as dictated by environment, affects affiliation and is worthy of greater attention.

Through this study, the theoretical framework will be constructed based on literature review of environmental psychology illustrating how to create a community space for interaction, intimacy and social affiliation, with reference to Approach-Avoidance Behavior and Place attachment. Also linkage between environmental psychology and interior design in terms of creating community building for interaction, intimacy and social affiliation will be presented through the analysis of a case study: the Ames train depot as a place of community in Iowa.