The house is a fundamental architectural component that determines our everyday life, and defines the relationships between space, our bodies and other people. Thus, the house continuously remains a contested space manipulated by social, political, and economic forces. Contemporary domestic environments are highly commoditized and shaped around formal preconceptions. These formal Western preconceptions have primed the imagination of the collective so much so that a singular way of inhabiting the world has become the status quo. Unfortunately, many of these preconceptions are further built into the local building codes and administrative norms worldwide.
In Mexico, a dignified and enjoyable place to live is a constitutional right. While it is not the case everywhere, in many countries, the right to a living space has become a law that precisely defines what that space is. However, in many cases, that dignified, enjoyable and affordable space is defined by quantitative rather than qualitative aspects. A house, a unit, and an apartment are defined by minimums (minimum square footage, minimum amount of light, minimum ventilation) and a conventional composition of spaces (two bedrooms, one bathroom, one living area, a kitchen, etc.) In some cases, for example in France, the law goes as far to define the bed’s location in relation to a door or a window. These seemingly objective laws, which are drafted to ensure a safe and healthy living environment, reinforce conventional standards and discriminative domestic environments.
The aim of this workshop is to analyze different living typologies in detail to incite change to the current building codes which determine individuals’ domestic life. This summer studio is a four-week analysis and design workshop located in Mexico City, where students will live and work. We will confront and compare housing projects that are rooted in Mexican culture with housing projects that speak to foreign design ideas. The purpose of this intensive research is to be able to create a critical framework for a substantial critique on the current mode of production and policy making.
Students will be asked to observe, analyze, research and be able to propose new forms of production that can be supported by new ways of doing, and that will need a new legal framework. Summer of 2022 will be the first edition of this course. Every summer the incoming students will use what was done in the previous years to continue the work; it is both a studio that will have its own summer-long purpose but should be seen as a contribution to a larger discourse throughout the years. The intention is to create both a very intense learning experience for the students and also very productive work that participates in the current political discussion in the country.
Students will work in a collective space called La Laguna located in the heart of Mexico City. Housing is tbd. Enrollment is limited to 12 students, and students will work in pairs of two. The dates of the program run from May 23rd through Friday June 17th 2022, and students must be in attendance for each daily meeting without exception.