Housing Tropes* and the Role of Design

This course will focus on conceptualizing the role of design and the agency of architecture and planning in the process of housing production and delivery. The contents of the course will oscillate between the theoretical and philosophical questions that surround the housing debate and will facilitate conversations that will help students distill an understanding and develop a position when engaging with housing design and its implications on the larger urban ecology.

The course will be organized around a series of themes which will be introduced by the instructor in presentations, discussions around readings and through lectures by invited experts.  The themes will range from questions of housing and urbanization to the notion of homelessness (on account of poverty as well as displacement) and the ecology and delivery of housing by both the state and private sector. In addition, issues of informal and incremental housing as well as ideas of affordability will be interrogated through the assigned readings and discussions. Central to the course will be the question of the role of the architect in design and delivery of housing.

The class sessions will alternate between discussions around the definition and understanding of different themes described above, and brief student presentations- treated as equivalence of short response papers. These explorations will be focused on geographies/locations/cities selected by the students in conjunction with the instructor. This course aims to broaden students’ understanding of the dynamic forces that shape housing and by extension the built environment more generally. This will be done through the process of students identifying and researching issues pertaining to housing as well as critically evaluating current policies, frameworks and innovations that address these issues. In addition, students will implicitly engage with qualitative and quantitative methods of research and explore ways to cartographically and spatially represent these findings. Eventually the aspiration of the course is to develop an understanding of how conceptual and thematic readings of housing could inform, bias or modify policy, planning and design frameworks.

Students are expected to spend about 2/3 hours reading in preparation for each class, apart from the time required to work on course assignments. All required readings will be posted on the course page. Each section of the research assignment counts towards 20% of the final grade. Class participation comprises the remaining 20% which includes both an in class and online discussion. Students are also required to submit a 5000-word paper at the end of the term.

*Trope: a word or expression used in a figurative sense; a common or overused theme or device.