2020 Clifford Wong Prize: A House is Not a Home

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by Qin Ye Chen (MArch I 2022) and Yiwen Wang (MArch I AP 2022) — Recipients of the 2020 Clifford Wong Prize in Housing Design.

“A House is Not a Home” addresses central questions that resonate in important ways with life in our cities today: “How can architecture offer a remedy to social isolation?” and “Can architecture organize different scales of community engagement over different time frames?”

This multifamily housing design redefines home as a space for knowing and engaging with objects and others for some amount of time. It acknowledges that the current housing system no longer responds to the need for community engagement or contributes to building higher levels of community attachment. The project manifests architecturally multiple time scales of knowledge, awareness, and engagement of one’s neighbors. Whether it is knowing your neighbors through windows over the years, a space occupied by different inhabitants for certain days of the week, or objects collected in treasure chambers changing by the hours.

This design combines a range of dwelling types in varying configurations, all seamlessly synthesized on the site. This range of apartment types and the idea of overlapping shared spaces that oscillate between private and public realms are used as an important component of community building and engagement. Furthermore, the aggregation of these varied units in different scalar configurations ranging from low to mid-rise building forms suggest choices in terms of living opportunities for different demographics across ages as well as income groups. Most critically, these aims and objectives are integrated into a form that is responsive to the urban fabric and context in which it is situated. The project suggests a new form of urban living that is socially inclusive and architecturally accommodative of varying lifestyles and cultural aspirations. In addition, the human-centric approach and experiential imagination of space have resulted in inventive places of encounters, which will “serve as a remedy to social isolation” through enhancing community engagement.