Well-being: The function of a 21st century multi-story residential building

Over the past seventeen months, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, boredom, incarceration, and indolence for many living in cities around the world as they have been confined to their homes. As immunologists around the world believe that Covid-19 will become endemic, we must urgently rethink our relationship to housing, from it being a commodity to one that promotes well-being.

Alongside the recent pandemic, global warming has continued to be an ongoing crisis. This has been evident in the recent floods and wildfires in Europe, extreme heat waves in large parts of America and drought in the Andes mountains and vast regions in Africa. These events are a reminder that the Earth’s well-being is inextricable from humanity’s, and that a mutually beneficial connection between humans and nature must be cultivated for living organisms to continue to exist at all. We need a new approach to housing in the Anthropocene.

In the Twentieth Century, health crises prompted many creative responses from architecture. Rotating solaria and open-air classrooms were responses to tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases; the open front porch was a response to the Spanish Flu; the elevation of buildings off the ground, stacked gardens, and use of flat rooftops as recreation spaces were Le Corbusier’s response to hygiene and well-being; and the provision of multiple private gardens for each apartment were Jean Renaudie’s response to the need for nature in urban areas.

In the context of the ongoing pandemic and growing concerns about the global degradation of the environment, this studio will ask students to develop new urban collective housing typologies. These should allow both humans – looking for diverse spaces – and the planet, to thrive, and in doing so, make a case for the city as a place where well-being is treated as paramount.

Our investigations will focus on the adaptive reuse of Paris’s above-ground carparking structures – which are increasingly underused as two thirds of Parisian households no longer use a car – to avoid their demolition. Each student will choose from one of three carparking structures and transform its skeletal frame into a residential block with healthy living spaces.

This course has an irregular meeting schedule. 

Farshid Moussavi will be in residence Tuesday and Thursday on the following days: September 14, 16; November 16, 18; and for final reviews.

Yotam Ben Hur will be in residence on the following Thursdays: September 2, 16, 30; October 14, 28; November 11; December 2; and for final reviews. 

The instructors will also hold class via Zoom on the following Tuesdays and Thursdays: September 2, 7, 9, 21, 23, 28, 30; October 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28; November 2, 4, 9, 11, 23; December 2.