Moving design for lives sans terre
Author(s)Chen, Nina, 1968-
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How may design address the contemporary conditions of movement, relocation, and change? Today, 25 million Americans currently consider themselves to be free agents. That is, one out of six Americans have abandoned traditional jobs and are moving from company to company, unattached to any particular employer or institution. This may partly account for the higher numbers of people who out of opportunity or necessity are relocating themselves geographically at such frequency and consistency that the traditional notion of home associated with stasis or the act of settling is challenged. Such mobile conditions raise comp lex questions of identity, continuity and sense of property, and challenge the relationship to one's environs. Sans terre, which literally means "without ground", can also be taken to mean the ability to be at home everywhere. In questioning what the position of dwelling within mobility might be, the thesis embraces life sans terre as a positive potential, as a creative generative force. The exploration deliberately challenges the physical limits of the idea of home and tests the portability of its perception. Precedents of dwelling in motion exist. Models of inhabitation as portrayed by American Indians or nomadic tribes illustrate notions of expanded personal territory while involving the reduction of personal possessions. A proliferation of extended stay hotels now provide the role earlier caravanseri or monasteries once had. One modern medium yet to be explored, however, is the potential of current communication technologies. New relations to dwelling are now possible under conditions sans terre. This project attempts to channel technology into uses through which new associations and relationships between users, machines, nature, virtual life, physical beings, place, time, and space can be created . The thesis proposes that selecting the associations to form, positioning one thing relative to another may be considered equivalent to the act of dwelling, or the construction of one's home. The role of design is to strive to find ways to allow these self mandated connections to occur. Once this goal is accepted, it becomes clear that in formulating a response, a solitary object acting alone can in no way provide an adequate solution. The single question of dwelling and mobility requires an entire bag of answers, a whole kit of tools for inhabitation. Architecture as building alone is not sufficient. A building in this scheme can only be understood within the context of an ensemble, a system of instruments of various scales working together. In concert, the proposed solutions strive to radiate different pulsations of time, perspective and scale, pertinent to the dweller.
Thesis (M.Arch.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1999.Includes bibliographical references (p. 72-73).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology