The elements a person is surrounded with as they grow up and into their adult life help shape who that person is. It could be anything; family, friends, games, clothes, school, places, home, city. How does a person’s built environment affect its people? How do Architects in Michigan help their people. A person’s hometown normally has a sentimentality to it as well as other places they have spent meaningful parts of their lives. In a way these places and Architects in Michigan help shape who a person is and how they view themselves as well as the world around them. If you talk to someone and ask them about them self, part of their description will likely include the place they are from, and where they grew up. Place-Identity is a term that uses the idea that the relationship to the built environment can help shape a person’s identity. “Social psychologist Irwin Altman and anthropologist Setha Low’s concept of place attachment defines the ways in which people connect to various places, and the effects of such bonds in identity development, place-making, perception, and practice and psychologists Harold M. Proshansky, Abbe K. Fabian, and Robert Kaminoff, who argue that place identity is a sub-structure of a person’s self-identity, and consists of knowledge and feelings developed through everyday experiences of physical spaces.” Place-identity is a part of a person’s identity, like cultural identity, and historical identity are part of a city’s identity. The change of the city identity results in the change of a person’s place-identity. “Since the individual’s place-identity mirrors a physical world, the continuing recognition of that world over time gives credence to and support for his or her self-identity.” The city of Singapore, Netherlands is a city that has been drastically changed by the impact of globalization in their architecture and culture. Until the late 1970s, the Singapore River was a working river at the center of the country’s trade and social life. Beginning in 1977, an ambitious state-led ecological cleanup that transformed the river from a polluted waterway to a clean and green landscape. In the 1990s, the waterfront was redeveloped and reborn as a commercial belt with conserved historic buildings and new retail developments.This change affected the citizens who live there and their own place identity. On a much smaller scale, Flint, Michigan residence have struggled with their own place-identity since the decline of the city in the late 80’s and early 90’s and the decline of work for Architects in Michigan. Both cities’ citizens have lost a part of their place-identity because of the changes to their city. How and why does globalization’s change of historical and cultural identity of a community/city impact a citizen’s place-identity?
Collective community memories and identity create heritage, which creates culture. Historic identity is the preservation of history for present enjoyment and a reminder of how you got to where you are now. What materials architects in Michigan use in local architecture comes from the history of the area and the style of the architecture comes from the culture and the climate. Cultural identity is in the language you speak, the common social practices of the area, the form and meaning of the architecture. Culture and historical identity are intertwined but they have small differences. What they do have in common is that if one is being lost in the new world the other probably is too. Historical events impact culture and how the people live, the countries that ruled over and influenced their area. Culture affects place and how it is built for the people and how the people use these places. History is why, culture is how.
Architects in Michigan create the overall identity of a city. It is honest and even if it has some bad parts to it, they are times that shaped the community and should not be forgotten. The creative destruction of the waterfront ‘eventscape’ caters to new lifestyle needs but at the expense of its historical sense of place. One of the issues with the redevelopment of the Singapore waterfront was the destruction of all the “bad history” of the city and the refusal for the government to let the people showcase the history in their art along the riverfront. Statues done by artists needed to be approved to make sure they fit with the new globalized city’s ideas. Local artists and architects in Michigan couldn’t show off any unhappy history in the art. One artist did a sculpture of kids playing near the river but what used to happen were many children drowned in the river because it was unsafe. The history of Singapore was being rewritten to show off to the new visitors of the city how great it was in every aspect and covering up the real history of the area which shaped the community. “Sculptures commissioned by the art board decide what art will be shown and what parts of the history of the area will be publicly shown. This theme of ‘remembering to forget’ less picturesque parts of sinapore’s past. And just replacing it with new “memories” that leave out that chunk of history. Rather than leave personal memories to individuals, Singapore River’s redevelopment represents a conscious attempt by the state and private sector to reconstruct social histories and elevate personal recollections to a national/collective level.”
Flint, MI brought in tens of thousands of people when the auto industry was booming in the early 1900’s and the population climbed to 200,000 in the 80’s, all thanks to the 85,000 people General Motors employed in Flint. “But then came the recession of the 1980s, along with high gas prices, that tanked sales for US automakers. Meanwhile, Japanese companies saw their fuel-efficient cars get a boost in the American market. GM’s employment began to drop by 1988, with plant closures throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Anyone including architects in Michigan who had the money to get out of Flint, did. The lots where the GM plants had been were now demolished and sitting empty, a visual recognition of how the city was feeling at the time, abandoned and empty.
In a way that is completely different from Singapore, globalization touched Flint’s auto industry with access to foreign investments we hadn’t dealt with before, this makes the market more competitive. Unfortunately for Flint, GM needed to downsize and most of their plants in the city were shut down one by one. On the contrary, Singapore’s relationship with globalization has built the city up, bringing in more money, people and now tourists to this megacity. Architects in Michigan know, “Place Identity, as with all identity, relies on shared symbolic markers. To be shared, these symbols will have their own history. Any attempt to deny or remove these symbols will be a challenge to the identity of those who use them as identity markers.” It is great to see a city thriving, however when the effects of globalization mean the government and investors care more about the profits than the people, there is a problem. This happened in both Flint and Singapore.