We live in a time in which previously-social activities such as teaching, learning, and working have been confined to the privacy of the home. This housebound state was generated by a pandemic which has exposed severe systemic inequity and structural racism in our country. As such, the current moment presents an opportunity to question the status quo and known paradigm, and to reflect on the meaning, ideology, and iconic architectural presence of the House. “House” can mean many different things: a single family residence, a collective housing building, or a space for a particular communal purpose such as arts, worship, culture, or learning.
Although this country and its populace have radically changed since its founding, the archetype of the American House is still based on a model that was born in colonial times. This archetype, then, carries with it the white supremacist legacy of colonialism. We must rethink the “House of our Time” as a more inclusive model that represents the diverse identities of this country, particularly those of African Americans. This studio proposes a new house prototype and tests it through six themes: Typology, Program, Materiality and Technique, Place and Location, Sociopolitical Meaning and African American Identity.
We will work with a team of African Americans of diverse backgrounds including artists, designers, real estate agents, and architects who will participate in weekly discussions concerning these six themes. Students are asked to work in a sequential and cumulative manner throughout the seven weeks of the course with the themes as guiding principles for design discovery. Each Tuesday there will be a presentation by the instructor followed by a discussion with team members and student presentations. On Thursdays, we will have a desk crits with the instructor and some of the team members.
Through the theme of the House, we will explore alternatives to our capital economy and the issues of labor associated with the domestic environment, including the role of gender. We will develop techniques of presentation, model making, and fabrication that align with this new model of the House.