Enabling housing : dwelling + home + domesticity; typology + specificity + site; chaos + complexity + control
Author(s)Teicher, Jonathan Lawrence
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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This thesis explores housing through the filter of enabling, an Elizabethan word which has come to be associated with inhabitant empowerment. It proposes the existence of basic cultural, economic and constructional as well as formal categories of enabling. Such characteristics are observable and describable; in so doing, we develop schemata both for rational decision-making and also for judging the performance effectiveness of architectural moves. We also become better designers through reengaging our chaotic environment. This means understanding those biases which prevent us from recognizing the inherent good fit between inhabitant needs and desires, and environments like the Levittowns. Enabling Housing is the culmination of a design research, one which engages design as a tool for understanding. Building upon specific common typologies -the row house, the suburban house and the courtyard house-"developed models" were explored to more fully understand type and its role in low-cost housing. In each iteration, enabling character was enhanced or implemented through evident capacity for use change and transformation; strategic material placement; referential clues about potential transformation; and fractal opportunistic response to specific conditions like site. Formally, the thesis proposes transforming imageable schematic typologies to generate starter dwellings--housing which grows. Specifically, it examines implications in the architectural design of extremely low-cost housing with minimal initial square footage and large unfinished volumes - a basic approach of the Levittowns. The design process thus begins with a modelled type, a recombinant configuration of robust dimensions, systems and logics of assemblage and construction. The actual starter home then results from builder and inhabitant and site transformations of the abstracted type. Additional formal, material and referential clues designed into the dwelling's systems support subsequent incremental growth. On a broader level, two more general areas of inquiry focused the research: domesticity as a cultural artifact, and exploration of chaology, the nascent science which already has shattered our confidence in LaPlacian models at many levels wherein they had been implicitly assumed to be operative. Recognition of chaos, sensitive dependence upon initial conditions and the limits of predictive control models like master plans have brought many questions to bear upon architectural practice. In the last section of this thesis, we outline the changing paradigm as it is emerging.
Thesis (M. Arch.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1989.Includes bibliographical references (p. 114-120).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology