When the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, no one knew for how long life would be disrupted. At the peak of restrictions, about 3.6 billion people worldwide were subject to mandatory stay-at-home orders. We have adapted and incorporated almost every aspect of our lives into the private realm of our homes. However, these new work-life conditions may amplify how space is articulated according to specific gendered, classist, and racist configurations of the social. Women, low-wage workers, and people of color disproportionately feel the effects of the pandemic.
On the one hand, with the pandemic’s start came the closure of schools and childcare facilities and the collapse of the medical system. Millions of women shouldered an increase in care responsibilities and domestic labor, forcing many of them out of the paid workforce, reflecting the persistent pay inequality and how we have failed to recognize the actual weight of caregiving and domestic work in our economy. In Mexico, the economic value of unpaid work done in households was estimated at 22.8% of GDP in 2019—higher than manufacturing, commerce, real estate, mining, and construction. Women contribute 75% of said estimated value. There is a long history of work-live architectural explorations. However, architecture also tends to conceal spaces of domestic labor—and the people (primarily women) who work in them.
On the other hand, while we have increasingly outsourced some household work such as grocery shopping and food preparation, these tasks rely heavily on low-wage or informal workers with no formal contracts, health insurance, paid sick leave, or pensions. Dark kitchens and delivery apps make food distribution efficient but amplify our disconnection to food production, preparation, and waste management.
This studio aims to explore new housing typologies that recognize tenants, domestic workers, and first-line workers as a network of extended domesticity and investigate new ways to resolve the hidden tensions of domestic life and the roles architecture plays in the new social dynamic.