A home is both a physical and a spiritual construct. It is part of our human nature to search for a home that will provide shelter and support our way of living; at the same time, it is impossible for most people to inhabit a custom-made home at a place of their choice. For 0.5% of the US population, it is even impossible to have a home at all. The topic of Housing is central for architecture and cities. Being a key component of the economy, it takes competing meanings: from home to commodity, the range of readings and interests make the making of houses a nuanced process and an increasingly challenging one for architects. Design is not enough, questions of affordability and equality, changing demographics, ecology, and economy, amongst others, thicken the task. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new complexities and opportunities worth examining as people spend more time in their homes, and health and social interaction become urgent matters. To make things even more complicated, understanding how the construction industry and the real estate market work is key to gaining agency in this cumbersome ecosystem. Architects are often called to dream ad hoc single-family homes or luxurious condominiums, one-offs, but are increasingly excluded from designing the bulk of the residential buildings that build our cities. Why? Reflecting on the relation between architect-builder-client-user, and on the level of participation of the architect in both the design and construction processes, can contribute valuable insight. Despite innovation having a hard time penetrating this industry, exploring possible synergies between architecture and production seems key today, at a moment when construction generates close to one-third of the world’s overall waste and more than a 40% of global CO2 emissions. Making buildings through leaner processes, integrating technologies that offer promising alternatives to conventional ones, and making standardization compatible with customization by combining efficiency with adaptability, all make sense.
This studio will create a space of questioning and experimentation to reframe ideas about housing in an effort to overcome obsolete paradigms. Here, students will investigate how the next generation of industrialized houses can make room for creativity and diversity while addressing the daunting problems cities and citizens worldwide face today. Catalog housing and offsite construction will be considered, learning from prior experiences -successes and failures- and present opportunities. The goal is to collectively speculate about what the future of housing might look like if we make the most personal and universal needs of a home meet.