SENSE OF PLACE AND SENSE OF SELF: THE USE OF HISTORIC PRESERVATION TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES OF HOUSING, ABANDONMENT, AND PLACE ATTACHMENT IN OUR COMMUNITIES
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MA in Historic Preservation
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This treatise examines the housing shortage, addressing the underlying social issues of sense of self and place attachment in our communities. Analysis is undertaken from the perspective of basic human psychological needs as well as physical needs, and the concepts of sense of self and sense of place, and their relationship to potential adaptive reuse projects. The treatise uses Causal Layered Analysis, and a focus on the possible biases and assumptions that have prevented more effective housing solutions. It is argued that housing issues are a symptom of a much larger problem, community disintegration, and the loss of psychological sense of self. Historic preservation practices of adaptive reuse of the already existing built environment are proposed as an element of the solution to resolve humans’ loss of the sense of self and sense of place which are necessary for community stability. These intangible issues provide the necessary raw material to address the physical housing issue. In addition to a discussion of various relevant theories across sociology, psychology, architecture, urban studies, and economics, examples will be given to illustrate how new solutions to current problems can come from thorough analysis. A final example applying treatise principles to an existing abandoned nineteenth century manufacturing building demonstrates how changes in the built environment and in our thinking that place over time. These changes in turn influence our ideas of sense of place, and sense of self, which can be seen in how we regard our communities. The Causal Layered Analysis method allows the consideration of multiple perspectives, and how these perspectives influence each other if one is shifted, even slightly. I advocate for the expanded adoption of an approach to the housing crisis that is already used, but in a fragmentary manner. Historic preservation embraces adaptive reuse, as do other projects presented in this study. The call to action of this treatise seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of adaptive reuse as a practical solution in a wide range of settings as part of a sustained future for individual and community development. I hope to see adaptive reuse as a tool to ease our housing crisis, as well as stop the degradation of sense of self on a personal and community level.