Debate: Pret A Habiter - Ready to Inhabit

Debate: Pret A Habiter - Ready to Inhabit

AAgora is a debate platform based at the Architectural Association, London, which aims to shed light on relevant architectural topics. These debates take the form of an open-table discussion which encourages the audience to participate at any time. AAgora's third debate will be "Pret A Habiter" - or, Ready to Inhabit - Towards Nomadic Homogeneity, in the city through the sharing economy and Airbnb.


Feel at home in Paris, New York, London, Tokyo and Berlin; simultaneously.

“Home,” once a personal “fortress of solitude,” now an online commodity everywhere, marks a tidal shift in a subtle transition towards a newfound sharing economy. As our notions of the public, private, temporary, permanent, generic and specific, are yet again challenged by indistinguishability. We, who "arrive as locals" and "belong anywhere," must recondition our archaic understanding of mobility and domesticity in an ever-increasing world of virtual “sharing”, and its inherent archetype of "nomadicity"; we must update the way we construct not just our built environment, but relationships among ourselves, and our possessions. However, in desirable urban spaces, AirBnB is facilitating the cultivation of a gentrified monoculture that jeopardizes diversity. Consequently, an AirBnB neighborhood is not a profitable means to collectively consume, but an international bedroom community of "post-tourist" mobile workers. AirBnB makes cities more affordable, as its influx of guests undertakes a much more utilitarian approach to the urban realm, yet raises questions as to whether this form of social behavior liberates or further entraps our society; as these newly administered laws of exchange slowly relieve us of a sense of ownership and identity.

Perhaps the homo-economicus does not fully comprehend the urban implications of their contribution to gentrification, but will it matter once everywhere wears the same nordic furniture, stocks the same chicken sandwich, and pours the same Seattle coffee?


  • David Greene (UK): Born Nottingham 1937, Greene was elected Associate member of the RIBA and came to London to begin a career, from big buildings to T-shirts for Paul Smith to conceptual speculations for the renowned Archigram group which he founded with Peter Cook. He won the RIBA Gold Medal 2002 (Archigram), joint Annie Spinks Award with Sir Peter Cook (2002) and currently visiting Prof of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, External Examiner on the Masters in Advanced Research at the Bartlett and Diploma 7 Unit Master at the AA. Greene has made a career of pursuing projects that seek to deepen contemporary architectural investigation of form, and its relation to information technology and technology at large.
  • Alex Stephany (UK): CEO of JustPark, a sharing economy startup, Alex closed the largest equity crowdfunding for a startup in history. He is author of the latest accalimed sharing economy book, The Business of Sharing and provides expert comment on the sharing economy and startups and have appeared on Bloomberg, FOX, Sky News, NPR, BBC World and the BBC's Today Programme among others. He holds a Double First Class degree from Oxford University in English and got the fundamentals of financial analysis and accounting via a CFA qualification.
  • John Palmesino (CH): John is an architect and urbanist, born in Switzerland. He has lead the researches at ETH Studio Basel–Contemporary City Institute between 2003 and 2007.He has co-founded Multiplicity, an international research network involved in contemporary architecture, urbanism, arts and general culture. Main works include MUTATIONS, USE uncertain States of Europe, Solid Sea. multiplicity’s works have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, at the KW Berlin, at the Triennale di Milano and at documenta11. He is the initiator of the interdisciplinary research on neutrality as a modality of spatial transformation and control for his PhD at the Research Architecture Centre, Goldsmiths, University of London, where he also teaches.
  • Harriet Harriss (UK): Dr Harriet Harriss currently co-directs GRAPH; a small interior design studio focussed on using emergent neuro-scientific intelligence to inform the functional & experiential efficacy of the spaces in which we live, work, and learn. She is a prolific author, has won numerous awards and is now a Senior Tutor in Interior Design and Architecture at the Royal College of Art in London.
  • Fabrizio Ballabio (IT): Fabrizio is an architect and educator based in London. He graduated in Switzerland at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio (AAM) and received his Masters with Distinction at the Architectural Association in London (AA) where he currently teaches as a Studio Master in architectural design and in the History and Theories Studies. Ballabio is a co-founder of åyr (fka AIRBNB Pavilion), an art collective reflecting on contemporary forms of domesticity, and part of the online research platform Factory Futures.
  • Ioana Mann (RO): Ioana, currently a third year has been a student at the AA since first year. She recently published a journal entry in PNYX about Airbnb and its sharing economy counterparts.
  • Sofia Belenky (US): Sofia, has a previous degree in fine arts from Bard College she studied at the GSAPP (Graduate School of Architecture, planning and preservation Columbia University) and BHQFU (Bruce High Quality Foundation University) before coming to the aa, where she is now a second year student.


  • Sahir Patel (student & co-Founder of AAgora).


  • Francesco Catemario di Quadri (student & co-Founder of AAgora).

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Cite: "Debate: Pret A Habiter - Ready to Inhabit" 02 Mar 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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