Fourth Semester Core: Architectural Design

Housing Architecture What interests the architect about housing is the way in which it peculiarly straddles the categorical distinctions between architecture and urban design. Housing is a matrix that bridges a spectrum of urban conditions from the idiosyncrasies of the most interior of domestic spaces to the most rational systems of organization manifest at the scale of urban planning. But this is not the reason that housing can be deemed to represent the conjunction of architecture and urbanism. Rather, the potential intersection of the two fields lies in the degree to which the consistency of a project of housing, as a unified construct, differentiates it from aggregations of discrete building units organized according to a pre-established street/lot layout. The difference between the consistency (i.e. unity or control) of the single composite aggregate and the multiplicity of individually aggregated units establishes a total work of housing as conspicuous architectural production. Housing becomes architecture to the extent that it differentiates a discrete piece of the city rather than defines a system that organizes and distributes individual buildings. If the grid is the city\’s mediator between two systems and scales of organization – infrastructures and buildings, housing exemplifies a system of systems. It operates according to the parameters of both parent disciplines, separately and simultaneously. On the one hand, housing inevitably requires some kind of systematic aggregation and repetition. It creates a pattern that, if not a grid, may be likened conceptually to a grid that subdivides a ground plane. On the other hand, any such system as a whole produces a cohesiveness that is defined three-dimensionally by interior and exterior spaces. The coherence or organic totality may be counterbalanced or camouflaged by fragmentation or picturesqueness, but only to pictorial or theoretical effect. Ultimately, however, because housing is unlike the rest of the city, like architecture it is bracketed. It re-frames the city just as architecture reframes buildings.