Housing+ is a year-long program of lectures, exhibitions and studio inquiries focused on a topic that is of particular relevance to Woodbury School of Architecture. The school brings together students, faculty, administrators and community partners to address the topic of housing in the 2019-20 academic year. Implicit in this call for new models of housing is a call for new models of practice.Apply Request Information Take a Tour
Faculty & collaborators are invited to define Housing+ projects as a means of examining the future of practice. Recent calls to action that ask architects to help with the housing crisis contain within them a larger critique of the discipline and profession of architecture. It is not housing per se that we have turned our backs on (every school teaches housing studios) but rather the processes and values, embodied most vividly in housing as a project, that are currently throwing the whole discipline into question. Indeed, most buildings are now shaped by non-architectural parameters embodied in housing: policy, economics, the rule of the marketplace, bureaucracy, techniques of construction administration, and codes. That we have turned our backs on housing is simply evidence that we have turned our backs on broader pressures facing the profession.
Eames, Schindler, Neutra, Morgan, Greene & Greene, Wright, Williams, Gehry, Lautner; dingbats, craftsman bungalows, courtyard apartments, McMansions: From avant-garde to vernacular, Southern California’s best-known architecture is unquestionably domestic. Paradoxically, in a region where over 80% of our cities are zoned R1, the scale of California’s housing crisis is striking. The shortage is estimated at 3-4 million housing units, with over 130,000 homeless, constituting a staggering quarter of the national total. It’s time for architects and designers to rethink California’s housing typologies.
Many in the design professions have remained notoriously absent from the discussion, claiming that architecture cannot solve the housing crisis. In her introduction to the book Housing as Intervention, Karen Kubey states that “though it was Modernism’s central project, ‘housing’ is often considered separate from ‘architecture.’” She cites Susanne Schindler in stating that housing is a ‘socioeconomic product to be delivered at the least possible cost’, while architecture is considered a ‘cultural endeavor.’ With regulatory constraints, financial and developer pressures, and community NIMBYism, the traditional role of the architect in housing design, particularly affordable housing, has eroded. As author Sam Lubell observes, “All it takes is a visit to the Inland Empire, Orange County, the outskirts of Sacramento or many parts of Silicon Valley to understand that the mass-produced housing stock in our country has become, with a few welcome exceptions, architecturally, urbanistically, and morally bankrupt.”
The School of Architecture explored the potential of the original Case Study Houses, experiments in American residential architecture sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine, which commissioned major architects to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes for the United States.
School of Architecture Alumni are designing and building mixed-use developments, multi-family housing, and custom residences across the United States. Graduates have worked on a range of urban renewal and infill revitalization projects.
National Health Foundation (NHF) and Woodbury University’s Agency for Civic Engagement Center (ACE) collaborated to create the Mobile Units Project in South Los Angeles. The designs were generated in collaboration with students of the Health Academy, an afterschool program dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles.
The Master of Science in Architecture in Real Estate Development (MSArch RED) program seeks to build upon the unique perspective and ethos of the architect. Through small class sizes and individual attention, we foster close mentoring relationships between faculty, staff and students. While architects design the way a building looks and works, they are seldom involved in the decision of exactly what to build. The MSArch RED program was designed to change the status quo.
Implicit in the call for new models of housing is a call for new models of practice. Housing + aims to develop projects that positively transform the built environment while identifying new opportunities arising from an examination of the traditional objects of our domain (buildings, cities, landscape, interior environments) from the perspective of new modes of design activity, new value systems, new procurement models, and new clients operating in ways that we might not yet recognize. How do we respond to the challenges posed by tools that are changing, stealing, or eliminating entirely the tasks that have traditionally characterized practice, by new models of project financing, and client operations demanding new expertise on the part of consultants, and by technology that offers not only a new means to an aesthetic end but entirely new aesthetic value systems?
Woodbury School of Architecture invites students, faculty, administrators and community partners to join Housing+ and submit ideas for lectures, exhibitions, studios and project partnerships. The Year of Housing is open to topics that address housing and new models of practice.