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An Introduction to Queer Use Of Space

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

We produced a Pride Pop Up design proposal as part of the London Festival of Architecture in collaboration with Architecture LGBT+. Although the project was not chosen as a finalist, we think that it offers an opportunity to discuss queer space and so Kirsty shares her thoughts.


TW: This blogpost refers to sensitive matters around the subject area of women and queer people and the built environment, including violence.


Similar to women, the built environment was not designed with queer bodies in mind. Queer in itself derives from non-conformity, and needs to be depicted within our urban landscape, with examples such as the High Line in New York - a queer landmark - already existing. At HerCollective, we are interested in how queer and female people can reclaim their environment, and be represented within it. We recently explored the concept design Share A Safe Space, a curation of information on queer residents within London's Soho through the use of photography, storytelling, and mapping. As we interact with the community and subsequent information is collected, the proposed structure will host a series of hanging photographs and notes.

Public interaction with our queer pop-up.

We strive to ensure that our work offers communities the opportunity to reclaim public space by physically representing them and their experience, and Share A Safe Space is an example of this principle in action. Unfortunately we did not win the design competition the proposal was open to, but we intend to utilise the ideas we explored as a way of community participation within our current research and further projects.

Methods of participation

Applying principles that support collective responsibility for public safety relies on a tolerance of queer people within the public realm. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, with a study conducted by Stonewall in 2017 uncovering that 1 in 5 queer people had experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Works by Lubitow et al elaborates on this with the perspective that even within Portland - perceived as queer-friendly - the city is not fully accessible for queer people to navigate, particularly in regards to the use of public transport.


HerCollective will investigate where possible with inspiration from Lubitow et al, with the belief that people should individually "articulate how their identities impacted their experience,” (Lubitow et al, 2017) and for the spaces we operate in to be safe, inclusive, listening to the voices of the queer community and representing them.


To find out more about this proposal or get involved in making it an actuality please contact us - we would love to hear from you!


More information on hate crime and violence against the queer community can be found in the 2017 report by Stonewall. There are of course other resources available too, and if you have been a victim of violence or harassment please get the help you need.


Some further resources that helped us in writing this include:


High Line. (2021) Behind the Bushes: The Gay History of the High Line. US: High Line. [online] Available at: https://www.thehighline.org/blog/2021/06/24/behind-the-bushes-the-gay-history-of-the-high-line/


Lubitow, A., Carathers, J., Kelly, M., Abelson, M. (2017) Transmobilities: mobility, harassment, and violence experienced by transgender and gender nonconforming public transit riders in Portland, Oregon. Gender, Place & Culture A Journal of Feminist Geography. Volume 24, 2017. UK: Taylor and Francis Group.

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