Enabling Spaces: Rethinking Materiality and the Invitational Character of Institutional Environments

Emma Nielsen*, Sofie Pedersen*

*Corresponding author

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This article explores how physical surroundings may be integrated as a supportive measure in social work efforts. Drawing on ecological psychology and the concept of liminality, the article presents a case study of Kofoed’s School (KS), a social institution in Copenhagen, Denmark. In recent years, KS has undergone a major renovation, opening up previously sheltered workshops to the public. By creating liminal spaces of possibility, where students can take up “both/and” positions allowing for a multitude of ways to participate, students are experiencing increased support and inclusion, which contributes to a growing feeling of citizenship and well-being. Drawing on participant observations and interviews with students, staff members, as well as customers at the school’s shops, we explore how the architectural layout may facilitate students’ flexible and fluid movements between more or less sheltered positions and further discuss how this flexibility may become supportive for their personal development and well-being. We propose to think of such spaces of possibility as enabling spaces, where inclusive architecture contributes to the creation of new possibilities for participation for people in marginalized life positions. This, we suggest, holds a great potential for social work efforts for people experiencing complex social vulnerability.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Udgave nummer9
Antal sider26
StatusUdgivet - 1 maj 2022

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