Courtesy Actar Publishers

Courtesy Actar Publishers

In architecture, what you exclude is often just as important as what you build. That becomes abundantly clear in the wonderful new compendium of techniques to keep things and especially people out, The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion (Actar Publishers, 2017), by the New York City–based Interboro (Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, and Georgeen Theodore, AIA). The book is a dictionary of terms for arranging space and access to space through legal and financial means. These range from zoning and redlining to classical music—piped into convenience store parking lots to deter loiterers—and skywalks, which keep shoppers and office workers safe from the elements and panhandlers. The Arsenal is also a guide to modes of resistance, and thus an implied manifesto about how we can address architecture’s complicity with social exclusion. The book is as important for architects to have on their desks as any building code—whose mechanisms it reveals along the way.

Courtesy Actar Publishers

Courtesy Actar Publishers

Though many of the techniques you can find in the book are familiar, some of them are slightly more obscure. For instance, I knew that cul-de-sacs were developed to control suburban space by offering no outlet and a place that watchful eyes from kitchens could control. Interboro shows how some communities have gone further by converting street grids that once ran continuously into exclusionary zones by such simple means by making them one way, planting hedges or bollards in the name of beautification and traffic control, or creating restricted parking zones. I also knew that mandating large fire trucks, even in suburban communities, makes dense housing and human-scaled streets difficult to achieve, but I did not know that some communities use sirens as a way to ward of strangers.