Essays
Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

The Workhome

An Architecture of Dual Use

In 2019 we have a global environmental crisis of catastrophic proportions and, in the UK at least, a rapidly growing population, a chronic shortage of housing and unsustainable pressure on our transport infrastructure. With more women in work than ever before and less well-defined gender roles, there is increased pressure on those in employment with caring responsibilities. At the same time, there is a steady growth in self-employment. This reached four million people, or 15 per cent of the entire workforce, in the UK in 2015.1 All these factors have contributed to a major upturn in flexible working practices, globally, that has home-based work at its core. They indicate a need to stop commuting and become far more rooted in our neighbourhoods.

 

Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

The Birth of the Dutch City Block

Weavers’ Blocks in the Golden Age

Dutch housing culture has its origins in the urban terraced houses in which people lived and worked for centuries, in all kinds of configurations.The individual dwelling remained the determining unit of urban development until industrialization took off in the nineteenth century. However, even in the seventeenth century, people were thinking and designing on a larger scale; of this, the urban extension of the Amsterdam canal area is the best-known exponent. But while this extension plan concerned an entire district, in the end it was yet again the terraced house, in this case the chic canal-side house, that was the development unit. As a result, the character of the city block remained secondary, with the urban design dependant on individual owners.2 Much less known but all the more interesting are a number of projects from the same period that were actually based on the entire city block as a development and design unit. In quick succession, various architects in different cities took on the experiment to create designs for city blocks that combined living and working for a specific target group, namely weavers and their families. This article will compare three of these weavers’ blocks and join the architects in their search for the added value of the city block as a design unit. What advantages did they see? What design choices did they make on the basis of perceived advantages? Did the combination of living and working in these artisan dwellings influence the design, and which criteria were decisive? What could the designers refer to in their façade designs given the fact that the entire city block was the architectural unit? And finally, with regard to flexibility: How did they guarantee that they would be able to find tenants, should the weavers stay away? These are questions that, if you look at current discussions about urban living and working blocks, have lost none of their topicality.

 

Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

Local Community Area

The Machiya as a New Model for Dwelling

Is it possible to organize a neighbourhood in which living and working are interwoven in a natural way? In which there is room for collectivism, for the creation of a strong community, while the privacy of the resident is respected? In 2012, Japanese studio Riken Yamamoto & Field Shop carried out a design study into a new way of living, introducing a concept that included approximately 500 people living together as a collective, the Local Community Area (LCA). The plan embodied fierce criticism of Japanese housing policies, which promote owner-occupied housing in order to stimulate the economy while people with low incomes have hardly any opportunities on the housing market. It is a policy that is very unilaterally focused on single-family homes and one-room apartments, which as individual units have little connection with the neighbourhood.

 

Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

The Art of the Corner

The Studios of Amsterdam-Zuid

In the twentieth century, the development of Amsterdam was marked by important moments of change. These moments are still visible as sudden transitions in the year rings of the concentrically grown city. The first transformative moment can be deduced from the year rings created around 1920. The nineteenth- and early twentieth-century extensions of the city were based on the existing rural polder structures. This changed drastically in the 1920s as the new extensions replaced the old landscape patterns with a formal and autonomous composition of lanes, streets, squares and canals. The change was made visible for the first time in Plan Zuid, H.P. Berlage’s famous urban development plan, which took its final shape following a series of design proposals in 1915.1 The second transformation took place about 20 years later, when the closed city blocks with a diversity of functions that defined the lanes and streets of Berlage’s plan were replaced by individual buildings, each with a specific function and free-standing in a continuous open space, most clearly articulated in Cornelis van Eesteren’s Algemeen Uitbreidingsplan (AUP). The way in which the artist’s studio, as a special variety of a combined living and working space, is incorporated and represented in the buildings in these different periods is exceptionally illustrative of the radical changes in the relationship between urban structure, architecture and programmes over time.

 

Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

Mixed-Use City

Confi gurations from Street Network to Building Plot

Today the idea of ‘mixed use’ is one of the leading policies in the urban (re)development of many European cities. UN Habitat recently indicated that: ‘. . . cities have a natural advantage when it comes to promoting low-carbon mobility. Their density and mixed use ensure that many destinations can easily be reached on foot, by bike or using public transport.’ From this we can define mixed-use neighbourhoods as those that interweave a diversity of urban activities within a walkable distance, thus in spatial proximity. Which urban configurational conditions afford a mixed-use city?

 

Essays
Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

Unplanned Adaptation as a Development Strategy

Frederik Hendriklaan 22, a townhouse in The Hague’s Statenkwartier or States Quarter, was built around 1900. The house has a floor area of approximately 300 m2. In the initial phase it was probably inhabited by a family, possibly three generations and staff. Shortly before my parents bought the house the ground floor was used by a physiotherapy practice. When we moved in, the treatment and waiting rooms were changed back into a living room en suite with the kitchen in the narrow nave. On the first floor a small room and the bathroom occupied the narrow section, with a large room to front and rear in the wide section. The upper floor consisted of several small rooms.

In the 1980s two couples lived there. As recent graduates they were not yet in a position to finance such a large house independently, so decided to purchase the house together. Two kitchens were installed in the en suite rooms, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor. The kitchen on the ground floor was converted into a bedroom; the bathroom was moved into an extension in the garden. A compact bedroom and bathroom were realized on the first floor as well. This gave both couples an autonomous residential unit. After a few years there were so many offspring that the house became too small. One family moved to a house around the corner; the other stayed put. The kitchen on the first floor was removed.

A townhouse, from student housing to single-family dwelling. From the outside there has been little change to the house’s appearance, except for the addition of two attic windows; internally, it has undergone substantial alterations.

 

Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

Housing Bricolage

Tools for Manipulating Post-War Collective Housing

Among the many forms of architectural and urban transformations of the existing city, the rethinking of modern mass housing built throughout Europe after the Second World War has become a crucial topic in the contemporary debate. Over the last 20 years, we have seen numerous projects focused on redesigning such spaces to accommodate current needs and lifestyles, in terms of spatial, functional and aesthetic endowment, as well as environmental requirements. These numerous and widespread experiments have also been encouraged at the EU level: first, with the URBAN Initiatives (1994), later with the Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities (2007) and with the Toledo Declaration (2010), intended to promote common objectives for rethinking the city’s urban and environmental qualities – starting from its housing spaces. The urgency of action has recently been reaffirmed by UN-Habitat through the ‘Urban Revitalization of Mass Housing’ competition (2013), launched as part of the Global Housing Strategy. Often, buildings have prematurely deteriorated as a result of using new experimental construction techniques based on reinforced concrete and prefabricated structures. Moreover, typological uniformity and resistance to variation limit the capacity of buildings to adapt over time, this translates also into aesthetic seriality – today seen as excessive homogenization. Also, considering the urban scale: (1) functional zoning quickly revealed its limitations, (2) the dilation and fluidity of open spaces have often proven to be incapable of stimulating density of relationships, (3) the monumental scale of architecture has repeatedly created uncomfortable environments, and (4) the poor relations with the surrounding context have strengthened the sense of marginalization. In the end, this extreme schematicism – combined with seriality and absence of distinct architectural accent – today offers a great potential for transformation. It provides designers with a fairly generic basis capable of  embodying new architectural inputs, with the aim of rethinking spatial qualities of what has been inherited from the past. These  experiments now underway generally seek to achieve a greater mixité (social, functional, typological, etcetera) with more variable uses of public and private spaces, a higher degree of urban complexity, an appropriate relationship between different scales and an effective articulation of open spaces. By combining more radical or measured changes in each case, a creative process can be developed giving a new character to the buildings and existing urban landscape. Traditional, modern and contemporary elements thus become part of a dialectical process that enables us to rewrite a scenario where contemporaneity itself filters into the palimpsest of the modern city. This is possible, in part, by recovering some elements that typically belong to the traditional city. In other words, moving beyond modernity offers an original synthesis that generates new forms of housing. Hence, the study and interpretation of morphological and typological variations aims at highlighting several recurrent architectural and urban mutations – where former ideas of living are adapted to contemporary needs by ‘correcting’ the original projects.

 

Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

Cast in Concrete

Growth and Change in Jaap Bakema’s Oeuvre

Jaap Bakema’s work and position were marked by an unshakeable belief in society’s engineerability. In his many lectures and publications he also noted a number of reservations about decision-making processes and life itself as the greater reality outside architecture’s; his optimism nevertheless seemed to know no bounds. Not only when he formulated answers to the questions of the housing shortage and the major planning issues of his own era, but also when he explained his vision of a possible future beyond the year 2000, in the twenty-first century. When Bakema wrote down his ideas for the presentation of the Netherlands at the World Expo in Osaka in 1970, he unreservedly stated about his own small country bordering the North Sea: ‘A country is planning its own change’, after which a series of catchwords painted an image picture of a hypermodern country that fearlessly embraces the future, even moulds it to its will, from water management to energy policy, from knowledge economy to open society. Visual elements in Bakema’s narrative were ‘the water, the skies, the light’ and ‘grass, corn, flowers and houses’, such as these were to be found in the work of Rembrandt, Mondrian, Van Gogh and even Provo.

 

Published in ,
Price: € 29,95

Our Daily Heritage

Conflicts and Opportunities When Renovating Residential Buildings Listed as Monuments

In the Netherlands there are few people who build their own homes. The majority of the population lives in a house that was built in the past. Designed and made with different ideas, for families with different wishes and habits to ours. The adaptation of homes for current times is therefore normal and necessary, and is a continuous process. In his book How to Make a Home, Edward Hollis compares the way in which people occupy a house with a cuckoo’s habits. This bird has made a speciality of taking possession of another bird’s nest and adapting it to its own needs. People alter, decorate and furnish in order to turn the house they encounter into a personal little nest.
However, other rules apply when this concerns a special ‘nest’. If a dwelling or residential building is listed as a monument, it is protected in
the public interest because of its cultural-historical value. A home with a monumental status cannot simply be altered to meet  contemporary residential preferences without further ado; the building (or sections of it) are ‘frozen’ in the past. This seems to be incompatible with the human desire to modify and appropriate a home. Does protected status stand in the way of habitation?

 

Essays
Published in ,
Price: € 49,95

Shifting Scales

Affordable Housing in India

The search for new models for affordable housing in the world’s growing cities has never been more urgent. Good, inexpensive housing is needed to confront the challenges of urban segregation, and to make it possible for those with little or no means to access and inhabit the cities that have the promise of providing a better future. India has been addressing these issues since its independence in 1947, resulting in a series of housing design experiments that can still inspire, but also clearly demonstrate the near impossibility of finding successful and lasting solutions.

Despite India’s recent economic success, the state’s inability to actively and effectively deal with the country’s rapid urbanization have led to megacities such as Mumbai and New Delhi that threaten to succumb to the unrelenting pressures of distress migration. At the same time, there has been an exponential rise in the number of smaller cities growing at an even faster rate than the large metropolises. Still a predominantly rural society with only about 30 per cent of its entire population living in urban areas (about 410 million people),1 India is expected to add an additional 500 million people to its cities by the year 2050.2 As urban India surges forward, construction and planning have been unable to keep up with demand, leading to a situation where large informal settlements or slums have become an inevitable consequence of this rapid growth. Today, in India, the enormous task of providing housing for new migrants as well as improving the conditions of those living in the already existing self-built informal settlements has never been more acute.

Designing affordable housing in large numbers is a constant process of balancing opposites. The way people can live in the city is a key factor in the transformation of traditional rural society into a modern urbanized economy. Should affordable dwellings be designed to accommodate a traditional rural way of life, or should they immediately aim for a future urban lifestyle?

The opposites of rural versus urban, of tradition versus modern, and local versus global played a key role in the formation of a new and independent India. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, always stressed the origins of Indian society. ‘India is to be found not in its few cities, but in the 700,000 villages’3 is a famous quote of his from 1936. On the other hand, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a firm advocate of the modernization and urbanization of the country, and initiated the construction of a new state capital, Chandigarh, as a symbol of the new, free and modern India . . .

Notes:

  • http://www.worldometers.info/worldpopulation/india-population/. Accessed 16 August 2015.
  • A. Dhar (2012), India Will See Highest Urban Population Rise in Next 40 Years, available online at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/india-will-seehighest-
    urban-population-rise-in-next-40-years/article3286896.ece. Accessed 16 August 2015.
  • Speech by Mahatma Gandhi at the 50th session of the Indian National Congress, Faizpur, Bangalore, in: A.K. Thakur, Economics of Mahatma Gandhi: Challenges and Development (Delhi: Deep and Deep Publications, 2009).
Published in ,
Price: € 49,95

Affordable Housing as Development Aid

Michel Écochard: New Roles, Methods and Tools of the Transnational Architect

It was not by coincidence that the UN Economical and Social Council decided in 1948, only a few years after the actual foundation of the United Nations as an organization, to start a division on Housing and Town and Country Planning.1 This division was a central component in the larger so-called technical assistance programme that the United Nations developed to help countries that were in need – ranging from war-affected countries in Europe to newly independent nation-states in African and Asia. Among the members of the council, there was a clear understanding that affordable housing was a universal human right, as well as a main matter of concern and a prime field of intervention for the new international organization.2 . . .

Notes:

  • This research on the United Nations and the HTCP was undertaken together with Maristella Casciato. An introduction to the various activities of the Housing and Town and Country Planning can be found in the various issues of the periodical Housing and Town and Country Planning (New York: United Nations. Dept. of Social Affairs, 1948).
  • Adequate housing was recognized as part of the right to an adequate standard of living in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 and of which article 25 states: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing . . .’ It was confirmed in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Erratum:

The articles by Luce Beeckmans, “The adventures of the French architect Michel Ecochard in post-independence Dakar: a transnational development expert drifting between commitment and expediency”, The Journal of Architecture, 19:6, 2004, 849-871 and Kim De Raedt, “Shifting conditions, frameworks and approaches: the work of KPDV in postcolonial Africa.”, ABE Journal: (4/2013) 1-28 have, for respectively the texts parts on Dakar and Fria, functioned as important sources for this essay. Passages from these articles have been strongly paraphrased (in first, second and last paragraph on Dakar, and in third paragraph on Fria) but erroneously not referenced (Beeckmans) or only partially (De Raedt). The authors wish to apologize for this omission, explicitly recognize the role of the articles as sources and underline their scientific importance.

 

 

Published in ,
Price: € 49,95

Mediating Informality

The Urban Visions of Peru's Law 13517

In 1949, Lima’s modernist apotheosis appeared imminent: the Plan Piloto, the city’s first master plan, had applied the techniques of scientific planning to analyse the city at its various scales – from the historical core to the agricultural areas supplying it with food – and to establish a logical course for ‘channeling its urban development’.1 But by 1954, a follow-up study warned that ‘the overflowing vitality of the metropolis in its blind force of expansion’ was setting in train problems which would only intensify over time: ‘the traffic congestion endlessly increases . . . delinquency grows; the city is choking itself in a dreadful ring of clandestine dwellings . . . a drop in the standard of living threatens.’ All this was the result of an unprecedented rate of population growth, largely due to rural-urban migration: established planning processes were being overtaken by the rapid emergence of barriadas (squatter settlements), as authorized housing could not be built quickly and cheaply enough to meet the demand. Reluctantly, the study confessed: ‘An economical system of urbanization and construction that would allow us to avoid the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions that appear in the “clandestine neighbourhoods” has not yet been devised.’2

The establishment of the improvised ‘Ciudad de Dios’ (City of God) on Lima’s southern periphery, achieved through a large-scale land invasion on Christmas Eve 1954, dramatized the desperate nature of the capital’s housing crisis. Although this method of forming barriadas had proliferated over the previous half decade, the Ciudad de Dios invasion, involving 8,000 people, was by far the largest to date, testing the limits of the state’s tolerance for extrajudicial development and provoking it into a more assertive response. After initially insisting that Ciudad de Dios would be forcibly closed down, in 1955 the government turned to planning law to broker a solution, devising new guidelines that could better accommodate – but also more effectively regulate – these emerging patterns of urban development. This tactic culminated in 1961 with the comprehensive set of reforms advanced in Law 13517, which outlined a new approach to understanding and shaping the selfbuilt city. While prevailing urban planning techniques had failed, confidence remained that once its techniques were recalibrated in line with a revised regulatory framework, planning professionals would again be able to deliver rational and effective solutions to ‘channel’
urban growth. This article assesses how efforts to apply the new regulations unfolded and how they fared in practice . . .

Notes:

  • Oficina Nacional de Planeamiento y Urbanismo, Lima: Plan Piloto (Lima: ONPU, April 1949). The plan was produced under the direction of Luis Dorich, the first Peruvian architect to formally study urban planning, completing his studies at MIT in 1944. Josep Lluís Sert and Paul Lester Wiener’s unrealized project for a new civic centre for Lima was one component of the Plan Piloto.
  • ONPU, Lima Metropolitana: Algunos aspectos de su expediente urbano y
    soluciones parciales y varias (Lima: ONPU, December 1954), 5, 8.