Domestic Logistics

Modern domestic spaces are embedded in networks of goods, labor, media, and technology that shape their functions, capacities, and cultural role. They sit in federated supply chains, crisscrossed by networks of dependency and autonomy that extend to the city, countryside, and globe. The flows of materials and consumables, as well as data and labor, situate the home in a larger technosocial complex. Technology thus acts as an indispensable and mutating interface between domestic spaces and the territories around them. 

The class will consider the bright and dark alternate futures of domestic space through the lens of its cultural representations and technological augmentations. Framed through the last 100 years as well as the next 100 years of domestic architecture, it will plumb the actual and fictional ways in which the space of the home has registered anxieties and optimisms around the social, ecological, and economic implications of technological futures. Specific technologies – spatial augmentation, telepresence, sensory expansion and deprivation, robotic farming, home droids, AI, drone tourism, and more, will be catalysts for critical discussions about what the home was, is, and could be. 

While we unpack these dynamics we will also consider how the future of domestic space has been represented with respect to technology, and how we might inflect those representations and networks for the better. The historical and future representation of the interior will be a key lens through which we will examine domestic logics, from lavishly rendered Beaux Arts interior elevations to developed surface drawings, from meticulously arranged interiors of the Dutch golden age to the dioramas typical of theatre productions. More recent attempts to quantize and optimize interiors through motion studies and comprehensive sensing will comprise an analytic counterpoint to narrative modes of understanding domestic space. Particularly critical will be the relationship between animation, domestic robotics, and the diurnal rhythms of inhabitation.

The house as capsule will be a recurring theme, encompassing critical concerns related to safety and isolation, but also mobility, freedom, and the fraught line between autonomy and collectivism. Threads of the 1970s autonomous house movement will be interwoven with histories of nuclear shelters, continuity of government facilities,  and the notion of the home as a cultural and technological bulwark against catastrophe and a last redoubt of civilization in ruins. 

The class will also examine a number of themes the organically emerge from domestic logistics, including: the farm at the scale of the living unit, houses as micronations, how the domestic ritual of the dinner party may be transformed and reformatted through new food and media practices, recombinant and robotic furniture and the new political, social, and implications of houses that think.

Throughout these themes, there will be a cross-cutting interest in the notion of counterfactual history, particularly as it applies to domestic architecture. Actual and fictional precedents will be  equally relevant, as the class embraces the full range of paths toward speculative domestic futures. 

The content of the class will be primarily cultural, historical, and speculative, with some discussions of technical systems underpinning current innovations in the domestic sphere. 

Students will develop a research topic affiliated with the themes of the class, articulate a speculative future that interrogates the topic through a paper and presentation, and venture a unique new video representation for that future.

The format of the class will be an asynchronous lecture, with a weekly synchronous session for discussions and pinups.