MOBILE LOITERING: A response to public space needs in Niger's post-colonial, highly gendered urban context.
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By their very nature, city streets provide opportunities to create life "in-between" the more strongly defined entities of home, school, office, and markets. In this space, one can easily appear to be on his or her way to somewhere, but never actually be going anywhere. The act of "mobile loitering" is a tactic that is commonly employed by young girls in Niger's capital of Niamey, in order to socialize with one another. In the context of a Muslim city situated in a predominantly Muslim (albeit secular) country, women's presence in the public realm-for purposes other than running errands, conducting business or going to school-is easily questioned by society. In their free time, young girls often pay social calls to each other, using their itinerary as a journey to and fro during which they can see and be seen, interact with known acquaintances, while enjoying relative privacy in their interactions with each other simply through movement. This thesis proposes a new type of public space that is adapted to the cultural norms of some Muslim cities. It takes the form of an activity circuit that links major public spaces currently used by the youth of the city, while adding program components along a defined route to augment them. The proposal shapes neighborhood streets to give girls destinations and justifications for being outside, offering them a right to a city that has becoming less accessible, within a society that is growing increasingly conservative.
- Architecture