Soft City map, 2022

Soft City map, 2022
Image: Just Practice, courtesy of MIT Council for the Arts and MIT Libraries

Photo of color-coded textile-based map, part of Just Practice collective's "Soft City" large-scale textile series exhibited at MIT's Rotch Library, MIT, 10 March 2022 to 21 April 2022.

Soft City is a large-scale textile series that maps the urban fabric of Black neighborhoods in the Boston area. The tapestries map historic (redlined) and contemporary Black neighborhoods, including Roxbury, Dorchester, and East Cambridge. The information mapped tells the story of the past, present and future of Black residents, and the ecological resilience of the neighborhoods they live in.

Hard (impervious) and soft (pervious) land uses are codified using colors with overlays of future tree plantings and flood zones on the tapestry. The softness and materiality of tufting interrogates the traditional top-down approach to space planning and management in the city and offers new tactile ways to explore our understanding of urban space, at all ages.

Just Practice is a collaborative practice started by [MIT graduate student and John A. Lyons Fellow] Amanda Ugorji and Sophie Weston Chien. [Their] vision is to dream and design social-spatial liberation. This means altering relationships of power in society through the built environment and building resiliency with care. [Just Practice's] interdisciplinary practice spans architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, textile, and graphic design, as well as activist and organizing work within the design field. We think about modes of practice, the spatialization of memory, Black feminist practices, the historical role of women in architecture, and strategies for collective care. 

MIT Libraries Exhibits, 2022

Timeline: 2020s
School: School of Architecture and PlanningSchool of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Department: Architecture
Career: Arts & HumanitiesCommunity
Object: Image
Collection: Data, Exhibits, Rising Voices 1995-Present, Students, Women