Theory and Criticism
Identity in community
The symbolic meaning of architecture in Community Identity.

The creation and maintenance of identity is a communicative process based on a continuous process of interpersonal comparisons and judgements, reflecting past experience and cultural guidelines.

There is a close connection between personal identity and group identity: an acknowledgement of membership in a community of people like oneself. At the same time, the negotiation of both personal and group identity involves distinctions from those who are perceived to be different.

Arts, culture, and heritage organizations and activities are key resources and incubators of creativity. Through their work they create new cultural, intellectual, and economic opportunities and innovations and this is the community identity, henceforth giving meaning of architecture in the community.
Thomas Ogato
Identity in community
Thomas, Interesting thoughts. :)))

The other thing to consider is that the various forms of art (music, painting, writing, sculpture, architecture, etc) have different time scales, usually based on the durability of materials.

Designs made with bio-degradable materials tends to quickly wear out or rot away if there is no maintenance. Whereas, designs made using tough bio-degradable or non-biological materials tend to survive even without any care.
Frank John Snelling
Identity in community
I am involved in a practical project that throws up some complexities. Our project is to build a new mosque in Australia that encapsulates both Islamic and Australian values. There are some who are personally challenged by the concept. Despite the current international profile of Australia in world affairs, there is still a strong emphasis by ordinary citizens on the values of acceptance, hospitality, integrity, creativity, sustainability and respect for the environment. Our community also sees these as part of the core of Islamic values and history.
Michael Zaar
Identity in community
Hi Thomas,

I am a social/environmental psychologist concerned with identity making in the home, so your comments are of interest to me. Social identity is also developed through intergroup comparisons, in which case it is the attributes of the ingroup which are used in self definition. My research is interested in the degree to which people differ on whether they define themselves more at the group or personal level, and whether these differences are related to different approaches in "home making" behaviour.

Are you involved in any research related to your comments above? If so, I would be interested in details of this or any papers you may have written.
Leanne Townsend
Identity in community
I am working on a radio programme on the urban city design, development and planning of Bhopal especially the concept of community involvement in the planning of Bhopal. I am devoting episodes to old Bhopal which is commonly understood to be Muslim Bhopal.I want to know what I can read for understanding identity of a city
Vinita Dhondiyal Bhatnagar
Identity in community
Dear Vinita Dhondiyal Bhatnagar,

wonderful! Quite some time ago I have visited the 'Museum of Man' at the outskirts of Bhopal. Phantastic. I was impressed! All these sacred signs and symbols tribals had set up as entrance gates or center-markers in their villages (mainly Bastar region). They give you an idea how villages were structured spatially before there were durable materials and monumentality, temples and mosques.

This brought me on the idea of a "Rural-urban-transition-path", which would make those who walk on this path aware of two very different cultures in our daily environment, namely "rural and urban", "traditional and historical", "fibroconstructive thus perishable and monumentally durable", "temporally cyclic and linear in regard to time", "spatially local and universal concepts of space", "locally harmonious worldview and globally analytical", "local territorial and imperially theocratic organisation", etc..


Maybe you find out a path which you could describe and recommend to your radio listeners.

The path would lead from some wilderness environment to the/ and through the open air part of the Museum and its tribal "installations" and then continues towards some historical and monumental parts of the city with walls, houses, courts, streets, markets and temples or mosques.

It might produce a more realistic image of human settlement history, avoiding the historistic or civilisational projections of this and that high and low culture. Instead it would propagate rather an anthropologically founded image, a cultural continuity of humans building signs, huts and houses and in this way living and organising their lives in space.

I think we are even today not sufficiently aware to what extent these two cultures are basically different, but, at the same time, in complementary ways, depend on each other.

Would be a nice demonstration of humanism! A new temporally deep reaching identity!

Best Regards!

Nold Egenter
Nold Egenter
Identity in community
Please let me add below what I found about the Museum of Man in Bhopal (2 examples). Maybe architects should once do some sort of a pilgrimage.....

Tribal Habitat (Museum of Man)
1) An open-air exhibition of tribal house types located at Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya on Shamla Hills, the Tribal Habitat is a presentation of actual-size dwellings typical of contemporary tribal cultures in various states of India. The exhibition gives a complete insight into the architectural features of the tribal houses with elaborately displayed interiors. There are craft and pottery demonstrations in the exhibition.

2)The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (National Museum of Mankind) is a unique Museum, on the Shamla Hills on the Upper Lake front. It is a postcolonial museum of communities rather than objects. A road leading to Van Vihar branches off uphill to Manav Sangrahalaya - an anthropological institution housing a vast repertoire of tribal and folk arts from across India. Situated on the hill by the side of the Upper Lake, surprisingly an entire fishing village has been replicated towards the lakeside with a black, sleek snake boat from Kerala catching immediate attention. Even its shelter has been designed in an ethnic fashion. Most of it is now covered in wild grass medicinal plants used by the tribals in traditional system of medicine. It is a unique museum spread over 200 acres of undulating land, situated in a prehistoric site and may be the only museum in the world strewn with numerous prehistoric painted rock shelters. It is engaged in recollection rather than collection. This has been curated directly by the folk and tribal communities, camping at site, to create a miniature presentation of Indian folk ways through display of ecospecific habitations and subsistence practices in the tribal, coastal, desert, and Himalayan habitats. The tribals themselves built a hilltop village resembling a tribal hamlet with each shack unique to a tribe from one part of the country or the other with original material. This part of the museum has been put together painstakingly over the years by inviting one tribe at a time. The library, audio-visual archive, computerized documentation and the collection of ethnographic specimens in the Museum, though modest in size are among the best in the world.
Nold Egenter
Identity in community
Sorry to have given so much space to this description of the Bhopal Museum of Man. But, this is supported by the conviction that the patterns on which we build our identity are basically of tribal (or neolithic) oirigins. These patterns are actively engaged in the mental construction of natural environments (sunset island, white mountains at the end of dark valley etc. etc.), but also flow into the traditional formation of architecture, into traditional designs and formation of handicraft.

Theoretically the patterns are simple, they can be described as multi-categorical polarity (s. Egenter 1994), but, the structural condition of materials make this basic aesthetic principle a creator of infinite variations.

Architects today have lost knowledge of these archetypal patterns. This is why we are not able anymore to build up our identity in modern environments.

Best regards,

Nold Egenter
Nold Egenter


This site is adjusted only for landscape mode. Please rotate your device for properly using
We are sorry, we are still working on adjusting for Metro IE. Please use another browser for the best experience with our site.