Housing the Social: Testing Framework for an Urban community

Mishori Dunraj

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Housing pressures in favour of ‘quantity over quality’ canallow homogenisation of the built environment to prevail. Consequently, the humanness [1] of the urban environment can be overlooked. The social value of resulting architecture can be left subsidiary to political, economic and aesthetic factors.

This thesis therefore draws upon a social awareness in response to the current agenda for the re-development of 139 Greys Avenue.

This study proposes a design framework to facilitate the development of an urban community, within the context of mixed urban housing on Greys Ave and a focus on social cohesion, community resilience and heterogeneity in the urban fabric. The framework therefore seeks not to instruct or control aesthetic, but to allow for an ongoing social governance and vitality. 

[1] Bernard Rudofsky, Architecture without architects: a short introd. to non-pedigreed architecture (London: Acad. Ed., 1981), 

The existing 87-unit modernist social housing building will be replaced with a new 280-unit apartment complex to rehouse the state tenants. The proposal falls into the cyclic nature of ‘un-slumming and re-slumming’[1], where the intensification of the pre-existing condition could resultantly mirror the original condition that was trying to be solved.

Though the proposed brief stipulates a positive effort to provide social and communal facilities to create a ‘sense of community’, this thesis questions how architects can design beyond the idealistic notion of community, and rather design for the self-creation of a resilient, urban community.

Jane Jacobs, The death and life of great American cities; 270

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This project draws upon the analysis of modernist social housing ‘solutions’ and the communal, social space of informal architecture. As a result, priority of communal space is privileged over private, domestic space. The design respectively comprises the clustering of mutual spaces between public and private realms, as the intrinsic connector of space, whilst specifying social diversity, density and security. The designing of parts therefore test the guidelines within an iterative system of response. This subsequently allows for an ongoing and mutually responsive relationship between architecture and social policy.  

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