Home Housing


Worlds of Homelessness (2019)


    There is a common misconception that city planning and architecture seek to provide “solutions to end homelessness.” These solutions include various types of supportive, affordable, and shared housing as well as small scale structures providing temporary shelter. Independent of the quality of design thinking such projects and structures can be met with opposition by the communities coming from the prospective occupants and the existing community.

    How can homeless communities become a part of the strategic design process that is engaging and beneficial for them? How can architects produce mutually supportive environments for houseless communities? How can community-driven processes contribute to responsible and comprehensive design solutions? How can schools of design and architecture encourage the success of such initiatives?

    “SCI-Arc is known for meeting a design challenge with speculative and radical thinking, and though design alone will not solve the problem of homelessness, it might be able to identify new directions and fresh approaches for some of the many fields engaged with the crisis” comment Hernan Diaz Alonso, Director/CEO of SCI-Arc and Erik Ghenoiu, Research Coordinator.

    Panelists include:

    • LA architect Darin Johnstone, Principal and CEO of djA (darin johnstone Architecture) established in 2004, and a founding member of the architectural design collaborative flux; 
    • Alexander Hagner from Vienna, Austria, who has created mixed housing that brings people experiencing homelessness together with students;
    • Anne Graupner and Thorsten Deckler from Johannesburg, South Africa, who have worked with informal settlements, community architects and students from the Johannesburg University Faculty of Architecture and Design; and
    • Ana Elvira Vélez, an architect from Colombia, who has successfully created collective housing in Medellin. The conversation will be moderated by Carlos Zedillo.

    See also:


    Aging in [a] Place: Planning, Design & Spatial Justice in Aging Societies (2019)


      The United States is an aging society with growing economic inequality and socio-cultural diversity. Age-associated disadvantages, such as declining health, overlap with unequal access to healthy places, suitable housing, and other social determinants of health. These have in many cases affected people throughout life. As a result, there are vast differences in people’s experiences of late life.

      Today, public discussion and policy focuses on “aging in place” as a way to improve quality of life and reduce costs. However, in part because of socioeconomic differences and structural inequalities, not all older adults can live in or move to age-supportive communities, neighborhoods, or homes that match their values and needs. Differences in access to places to age well can take the form of spatial inequalities, such as inadequate market rate housing for older adults on fixed incomes.

      Co-sponsored by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and The Hastings Center, the symposium will apply a spatial justice lens to this challenge, asking, who has access to age-friendly communities, accessible housing to prolong independence, and sufficient funds to cover housing and care? How can planners, policymakers, designers, and citizens make progress on social inequalities among older adults through planning and design? How can the fields of medicine, public health, and planning/design work together to effect change?


      • Chris Herbert
      • Mildred Z. Solomon
      • Nancy Berlinger
      • Toni Griffin
      • Jennifer Molinsky
      • Lauren Taylor
      • Lisa Marsh Ryerson
      • Robin Lipson
      • Emily Greenfield
      • Emi Kiyota
      • Rodney Harrell
      • Reese Fayde

      See also:

      The Housing System (2019)


        The Housing System was a six-program series on pressing issues at the intersection of design, policy, and politics in housing in spring 2019.

        Plagued with seemingly omnipresent issues of affordability, quality, and access, why do we design and build housing the ways that we do? In part, it’s because producing and tenanting housing is a fragile collection of distinct activities that are each complex in their own right and, while ultimately interconnected, often operate independently—and with conflicting interests. While not usually discussed as a system, these pieces rely on one another.

        The Housing System program series in spring 2019 put policy, development, and design in dialogue to probe the sclerosis of the system as it exists. Our goal was to step back from the details in order to rethink our assumptions, take a critical look at where we’re headed, and offer varied perspectives on where, how, and what we’re building. From a range of disciplines and with a critical lens, we took a hard look at five areas over six events: maintenance and improvement, the typologies of small and shared, policy and regulations, methods of production, and possibilities for systemic change. We examined different aspects of the ways that housing is designed, built, and used, from the micro (the minimum dwelling) to the macro (the policies that structure it all). In putting forth some under-asked questions about this system, at a time when we are so stymied in our efforts to provide decent housing for all, we’re hoping to help point our way toward making real change.


        Homelessness Charrette (2019)


          Design as a human right, not a luxury or a privilege, has been at the core of SCI-Arc’s mission and pedagogy since our founding in 1972. It is in this spirit that we turn the entire school’s attention to some of the most pressing issues of our moment and our city: homelessness. Los Angeles is an epicenter of shifting urban planning and housing issues, with homelessness surging over 40% in the past ten years alone. In this four-day, all-school workshop, we will come together as a community of designers to contribute to the body of thinking on tackling this issue. Taking on the intense, collaborative format known as a charrette—a problem-solving effort involving the transparency and voices of all stakeholders— all 506 SCI-Arc students will come together to affirm design’s responsibility to imagine and shape new futures that can be and should be in service of everyone.

          SCI-Arc is neighbor to Skid Row, where the homeless crisis is at its most visible and challenging. SCI-Arc is known for meeting design challenges with radical, speculative thinking. We acknowledge that design in and of itself does not eradicate homelessness, and throughout this charrette we hope to identify new directions and fresh approaches for the many fields engaged with this crisis.

          “SCI-Arc is committed to playing an integral role in solving the homeless crisis,” says SCI-Arc Director Hernan Diaz Alonso. “We are committed not only because of our proximity to Skid Row but because there is a moral imperative and an architectural challenge. Design must be implemented as a means for social change.”

          SCI-Arc students have proven time and time again that they have the capacity to generate unprecedented ideas and modes of thinking. For this reason we look forward to directing the energy, enthusiasm, skill, and inventiveness of our students toward this issue. Working with faculty, students, alumni, and key voices from around Los Angeles, we have identified the most pressing questions concerning homelessness, housing, policies, services, and public perceptions. Over four days, small groups of SCI-Arc students will answer these questions with original research and design proposals. The students will begin their work immediately following the opening event on January 11th. On January 14th, from 5-7pm, all student work will be presented to the community and the general public. Following the charrette, a formal report and video feature will be made available, as well as submitted to the Office of the Mayor.

          See also:

          Acts of Design: New Housing Paradigms in North America (2018)


            This day-long conference assesses the current state of housing in North America through a combination of case-studies and expanded thematic discussions among architects, academics, and advocates. The conference specifically focuses on designing housing across scales in cities spanning Toronto, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and New York.

            Panel 1: Territorio Gigantes

            • Tatiana Bilbao,* Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, Mexico City
            • Derek Dellekamp, Dellekamp Arquitectos, Mexico City
            • Anna Puigjaner,* MAIO, Barcelona
            • Moderated by Hilary Sample,* MOS, New York

            Panel 2: Small to Large Sharing

            • Fernanda Canales, Fernanda Canales Arquitectura, Mexico City
            • Jorge Ambrosi and Gabriela Etchegaray,*AMBROSI | ETCHEGARAY, Mexico City
            • Luis Carranza,* Roger Williams University, Rhode Island
            • Moderated by Adam Frampton,* Only If Architecture, New York

            Panel 3: Livability and Design Excellence

            • Lisa Yun Lee, National Public Housing Museum, Chicago
            • David Brody, Parsons School of Design, New York
            • Hans Ibelings, Daniels, University of Toronto
            • Moderated by Cassim Shepard, S/Q Projects, New York

            Panel 4: Design of a Certain Scale

            • Lorcan O’Herlihy, Lorcan O’Herlihy, Architects, Los Angeles
            • Brigitte Shim, Shim-Sutcliffe, Architects, Toronto
            • Marc Norman, Taubman College, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
            • Weston Walker, Studio Gang, Chicago/ New York/San Francisco
            • Moderated by Michael Bell,*Bell-Seong Architecture, New York

            Morning Keynote:

            • Julia Gómez Candela, Infonavit, Mexico City

            Afternoon Keynote:

            • Maurice Cox, Planning and Development Department, City of Detroit

            Closing Discussion:

            • Tatiana Bilbao, Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, Mexico City
            • Maurice Cox, Planning and Development Department, City of Detroit
            • Julia Gómez Candela, Infonavit, Mexico City
            • Hilary Sample,* MOS, New York
            • Brigitte Shim, Shim-Sutcliffe Architects, Toronto
            • Moderated by Reinhold Martin,* The Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture

            Reframing Housing Development (2018)


              What can be done to reduce the cost of housing, particularly in the United States? To help answer this question, we will bring together a diverse mix of people involved with the design, development, financing, construction, and public oversight of housing for a half-day of presentations, discussions, and networking.


              • Chris Herbert, Managing Director, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies; Lecturer in Urban Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
              • Andrew Freear, Director of Auburn University’s Rural Studio; current Loeb Fellow who has been developing prototypes for building inexpensive homes in poor rural areas.
              • Brian Phillips, Principal, ISA Architects, a firm based in Philadelphia and Cambridge whose portfolio includes 100K Houses and other efforts to produce small, well-designed, super-green residential units.
              • Michael Thomas, Director of Business Development, Panoramic Interests, a San Francisco Bay Area development firm that is focused on building supportive housing for the homeless, housing for students, seniors, artists, and others.
              • Randy Miller, CEO, RAD Urban, a design, engineering, construction, and development firm building high-rise, modular residential buildings.
              • James Shen, Loeb Fellow and co-founder of People’s Architecture Office, which developed pre-fabricated structures used to upgrade housing in Beijing’s central historic districts. James has been examining ways to bring this approach to the U.S., particularly as part of efforts to create more Accessory Dwelling Units.
              • Fritz Wolff, Co-founder and board member of Katerra, “a technology company redefining the construction industry.” He also is executive chairman of The Wolff Company, a private equity firm focused on the multifamily sector.
              • Jesse Kanson-Benanav, Chair, A Better Cambridge, a citywide resident group committed to building a more diverse and sustainable city, with housing for all people.
              • Adhi Nagraj, San Francisco director for SPUR; former director of development for Bridge Housing; and chair of the Oakland Planning Commission and its Design Review Committee.
              • Harriet Tregoning, former Loeb Fellow; former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development; former Director of Washington DC’s Office of Planning; former Director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design; and former Maryland Secretary of Planning.
              • Marc Norman, Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Michigan, Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning and founder of Ideas and Action, a multidisciplinary consultancy focusing on housing and economic development.
              • Surella Segu, Co-founder of El Cielo Architects in Mexico City and current Loeb Fellow, who was head of the Urban Development Department for Infonavit, which has funded about three-quarters of all housing loans in Mexico.
              • Terri Ludwig, President and CEO, Enterpise Community Partners, Inc.

              Tower, Slab, Superblock: Social Housing Legacies & Futures


                A single-day conference exploring policy and design strategies for reinvigorating postwar social housing.

                In 2016, the League brought together architects, historians, and activists from three cities dealing with increasing unaffordability and diminishing state support—London, Paris, and Toronto—to discuss policy and design strategies for reinvigorating postwar social housing to better serve current residents and future generations. These brick towers, concrete slabs, and low-rise superblocks are a great physical asset, and the conference encouraged discussion and debate about the future prospects of mass housing and varied approaches to its renovation and redevelopment.

                [embeddoc url=”https://dezignark.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Tower-Slab-Superblock-Program-and-Reading-List.pdf” download=”all” viewer=”google” ]

                Housing the Majority (2015)


                  In recent decades, debates on slums and the future of urban life have raged. Novelists, filmmakers, academics, cultural institutions, NGOs, foundations, and think tanks from across the political spectrum have offered ways to alternately upgrade, reinforce, preserve, integrate, and learn from these precarious landscapes, highlighting their many complex socio-spatial questions.

                  In Housing the Majority, scholars, architects, urban planners, artists, and activists gather from global cities with soaring rates of inequality—Cairo, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, New York City, Mumbai, Istanbul, and London—to define the terms of the debate. Moving beyond traditional and quantifiable definitions of informality, the panels focus on politics, representation, governance, and form as entry points to the difficult humanitarian challenges to “housing the majority.”

                  Organized by Dean Amale Andraos and Studio-X Amman, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro, with support from the Columbia Global Centers


                  Session 1: Politics

                  • Maria Alice Rezende Carvalho, Sociology, PUC-Rio, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
                  • David Madden, London School of Economics
                  • Claudia Gastrow, University of the Witwatersrand
                  • Response by Reinhold Martin, Columbia University GSAPP, and Mpho Matsipa, Studio-X Johannesburg

                  Session 2: Representation

                  • Alfredo Brillembourg, Urban Think Tank, ETH Zurich
                  • Ramin Bahrani, Columbia University School of the Arts
                  • Jaílson de Silva Souza, Ashoka Innovators for the Public; Observatorio de Favelas
                  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor, English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
                  • Response by Hilary Sample, Columbia University GSAPP, Nora Akawi, Studio-X Amman, and Rajeev Thakker, Studio-X Mumbai

                  Session 3: Governance

                  • Yaşar Adnan Adanalı, activist, Reclaim Istanbul
                  • Guilherme Boulos, MTST, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-Teto
                  • Myriam Ababsa, Institut Français du Proche-Orient
                  • Response by Clara Irazábal, Columbia University GSAPP, and Selva Gürdoğan and Gregers Thomsen, Studio-X Istanbul

                  Session 4:Form

                  • Tatiana Bilbao, architect
                  • Rohan Shivkumar, KRIVA, Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, Mumbai
                  • Rainer Hehl, ETH Zurich
                  • Omar Nagati and Beth Stryker, CLUSTER, Cairo Lab for Urban Studies
                  • Response by Geeta Mehta, Columbia University GSAPP, and Pedro Rivera, Studio-X Rio de Janeiro

                  Keynote Address:

                  • David Sims, political economist and author of Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control

                  Buell Colloquium: The Figure of Democracy: Houses, Housing and the Polis (2014)


                    Saturday, May 10, 2014

                    East Gallery, Buell Hall

                    10:00­: Welcome Reinhold Martin (Director, Buell Center)

                    10:10: “The Specter of Democracy: Figuring the Nineteenth-Century Anarchist City” Irene Cheng (California College of the Arts)

                    10:35: “….in the vernacular of property” Catherine Ingraham (Pratt Institute)

                    11:00: “Four Ways of Thinking About Architecture and Democracy” Jan-Werner Mueller (Princeton University)

                    11:25: “Democracy, Plutocracy, Bureaucracy: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Critique of American Society” Joan Ockman (University of Pennsylvania)

                    11:50: Panel 1 moderated by: Bob Beauregard (Columbia University)

                    12:30: Lunch

                    13:30: “Democracy through the Windshield” Gabrielle Esperdy (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

                    13:55: “Figures of Democracy” Sarah Whiting (Rice University)

                    14:20: “The Social Shape of Shelter” Samuel Zipp (Brown University)

                    14:45: Panel 2 moderated by: Gwendolyn Wright (Columbia University)

                    15:15: Coffee

                    15:30: “If Democracy Is Not Inclusive, What Is Democratic Architecture?” Christina Cogdell (University of California, Davis)

                    15:55: “Housing, Race and Imprisonment: Unprojected Futures in American Democracy” Ofelia Cuevas (University of California, Los Angeles)

                    16:20: “Domesticity, Dominance, and the Art of Defiance in Iran” Pamela Karimi (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth)

                    16:45: “Evacuated Bodies: Imagining Architecture and Democracy After Race” Ijlal Muzaffar (Rhode Island School of Design)

                    17:10: Panel 3 moderated by: Dianne Harris (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

                    Organized by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture

                    Making Room – New York (2013)


                      Launched in 2011, this design study considered new types of housing to match New York’s contemporary demographics and lifestyles.

                      New York City has a remarkably diverse, and growing, population. Yet the diversity of its populace — in economic status, cultural background, age, family structure, and livelihood — is not matched by a similar diversity in housing options.

                      Over the last several years, the Citizens Housing & Planning Council (CHPC) has been researching and analyzing how and where New York City’s residents live, and what housing is available to them. Their findings have revealed the many ways in which current housing regulations and standards constrain the range of choices the market can offer, particularly for single-person households, shared dwellings, and multi-generational households, through restrictions on unit size, subdivisions of existing units, and definitions of who may jointly occupy units. For example, regulations have tilted what the housing market produces towards larger units, for households assumed to be “families,” even though only 17% of New York’s dwelling units are occupied by traditional nuclear families. As a result, many households improvise their living arrangements in ways that can be illegal or unsafe. Simply put, New York City is not producing enough of the kind of housing stock its residents want and need.

                      To help address this critical problem, the League partnered with CHPC to carry out a design study to propose new types of housing that might better match the contemporary demographic make-up of New York and how New Yorkers choose to live now.