Housing Home and Contents: A Soft Focus on Domestic Things
Colby Vexler + Pricilla Heung
This studio is available to students enrolled in ABPL90142 Studio C, ABPL90143 Studio D, and ABPL90115 Studio E.
Pegged out and legislated, fenced in and given tangible measurements; subtle gestures turn a piece of land into a site.
So, land becomes site, site becomes potential. Negotiated, zoned, cultivated, tended to and cared for.
Setbacks and provisions; foundations, slabs and openings under a roof. At a minimum it’s about providing some sort of containment and cover over an inhabitable area.
A bed, essential utilities, and some storage; things domesticate the home, house occupies site, and site houses home.
But what dwells between site and house? The garden of course! Call it the front yard, backyard, courtyard, some gravel, weeds growing along side, or even potted plants that inhabit a kind of peripheral interior — the garden dwells at the ambiguous edge of domesticity, somewhere between house and its site.
From the banal to the absurd Housing, Home and Contents: A Soft Focus on Domestic Things examines acts of domestication and re-considers architecture’s role in constructing relations between site, garden, house and home in 2021.
The work produced here will not perpetuate “ideal living” fantasies or re-affirm unsubstantiated “practical” tropes about contemporary houses.
Instead, this studio draws heavily from perceptual interpretations of notable precedent houses to encourage genuinely considered observations, profound moments of understanding, and to generate the production of subtle architectural outcomes. With restraint, austerity and sincerity, students will think fast and move carefully to explore the contemporary phenomena that construct and challenge residential architecture.
Over a 12 week course, a sustained line of inquiry will guide students through three territories of concern:
1.A Domestic Site:
Examining one of three environments (Fringe, Suburban or Urban) students will speculate on a set of contemporary phenomena that effectively transform a piece of land into a domestic site. Here we will develop theoretical positions and establish tangible conditions to situate the house-design to come.
2.A Soft Focus on Domestic Things:
Primarily focusing on three line of domestication: area, containment and cover, students will immerse themselves in contemporary architectural reference in order to critically explore housing typologies, garden logics, programmatic assemblages, elemental configurations and the various conditions that construct or challenge the way we live in and around domestic environments.
3.A Garden and a House:
In the final stage of the semester students will design a house and a garden that reflect on the discoveries made in stages 1 and 2. The project presented will teeter between philosophical prompt and speculative, yet refined architectural proposal. The proposal will challenge preconceived notions of site, garden, house, home and acts of domestication within the contemporary context.
Thus the final outcome will be a well considered house, on a well examined site.
*Note: this studio will strictly operate through group work. It is expected that students in this class have the skill set to work professionally in groups through equal contribution, rapid refinement and critical conversation. We see each group acting as an office, who work together to produce a single, highly refined outcome.
To see former outcomes, please visit: https://housinghomeandcontents.com/
Colby Vexler is a graduate architect and writer. He is also the editor of online contemporary architectural publication, cc:Journal.
Pricilla Heung is a practising architect whose work focuses solely on the the residential realm.
Both Colby and Pricilla have a long standing interest in contemporary architecture, particularly houses. Further, together they have worked on the production of spatial installations, exhibition designs, public programs and built outcomes across domestic settings, institutional environments and commercial contexts.
Readings & References
A reading list will be provided to students in week 1.
Outside of this, we hope prospective students of this studio will immerse themselves in contemporary practice by exploring projects published in 2G, El Croquis, GA, JA and A+U. Further, we hope students will be avid readers of journals such as OASE, San Rocco, Accattone and The Architecture Review. This is because readings and references will allow students to better navigate the complex and ambivalent canon in which their projects are expected to sit.
Schedule Mondays and Thursdays 18:15-21:15