This exhibition, curated by London-based Sergison Bates Architects, explores the common spaces between the public city and the private room. It considers six recent social housing projects in six cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Geneva, Paris, Trondheim and Winterthur. The work, by six different practices, reveals an interconnected culture of thought and practice, a common ground of influence and affinities that extends back to past practitioners and typological precedent.
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Each of the practices responds in a sympathetic manner towards the physical and cultural aspects of place and is interested in the ways their projects mediate with the surroundings. Each also engages with the wider culture of architecture and a sociological tradition, striving to make meaningful contributions to the cities in which they work. Through photography, drawing, film, and text, this exhibition explores the typology of residential architecture. Housing forms the largest part of most cities and is the common ground of the urban environment. Social or affordable housing centrally funded and offered at subsidised rents, is generally regarded as a part of the common ownership of the city.
Subject to complex and evolving regulation and restricted budgets, and prone to negative associations, the design of the social housing requires sensitivity to the condition of the city, the relationship between the individual and the collective, and the atmosphere of home and ownership. The home in the city also remains a place of retreat – the setting for ever more complex social, cultural, and demographic structures. Our homes are the containers of memories, and the rituals and patterns of domesticity are carried out within them. In conscious and discrete ways these are projected onto the city, which plays the role of host. Social housing requires architects to design thresholds and territories that allow comfortable dwelling to take place in such contested situations.