Certain Uncertainties

In the early 1940s, Philip Johnson submitted his plan to a housing catalog collecting architect’s visions for single-family homes to take advantage of the new FHA mortgage program. Housing was a serious economic and architectural project. Johnson’s house had thin walls, a few punched windows, and a linear HVAC system that resulted in a generous rambling plan.

Familiar, common and ubiquitous across the U.S., Johnson’s house embodies the qualities associated with most single-family housing built during the first half of the century: thin-skinned, contained and protected from the outside world, relying on an ever-generous grid to function. This housing typology continues to be the icon of middle-class security, replicated even when building new.

The last year has illustrated how static and unadaptable this typology is for our world now, and the certain changes about to occur. Coronavirus. Black Lives Matter. Western wildfires. Texan storms. Midwestern militias. This is a typological proposal that hijacks mid-century housing precedent to address climate change at the scale of architectural intervention. The result is a process of designing housing that begins in the practical (thermal conditions, plumbing, material details), develops flexible systems, and results in the phenomenological (using light, air, touch, and sound to reconfigure relationships between inside and outside).

This is a proposal for an architectural process that: scrambles a typology (single family housing) from the detail, out; designs with and within climate change, from the beginning; works with existing infrastructure (mass-produced early and mid-century housing); results in a kit of parts that is affordable, mutable, and lyrical. This kit of parts can be deployed in any climate, in any city, deployed and redeployed over time, adapting and rearranging to address site-specific needs.
Faculty Advisor:
Gina Reichert