"A city of rooms" is a research work by architect Paula Olea Fonti that focuses on the study of shared housing, which is one of the most common ways for young students and professionals to live in the city. A popular and ordinary house, if you will. One that many architects would distinguish for its low architectural value.
The lines that can be read below are a synthetic extract from: "A city of rooms: The shared house as an urban laboratory".
The houses analysed in this research are exclusively from Barcelona's region, urban and anonymous, houses where ordinary individuals live their lives. The work investigates the relationships established between the house's spaces and between the house and the city. An exploited house made up of a group of rooms that share a series of services and common spaces, where the inhabitants live to the minimum, sharing the rest of the living space with their flatmates. A house, which, due to its reduced size and the fact that it's being shared, forces the inhabitant to conquer the city's own spaces, making the city domesticate itself.
This dissertation is approached from two perspectives. The first part is constructed from the shared dwelling, considering collective housing as an essential analysis for reflection on the contemporary dwelling. From the concept of shared domesticity, three fundamental points are studied. The extended house, which goes out into the city. The compressed house, where the city enters the house. And the minimal house, the one inhabited in the smallest cell, the one that is distinguished by its smallness.
The second block studies the shared rooms of the house and their interrelation. The domestic space functions as a micro-city made up of rooms where one room becomes the centre of the house, fulfilling its initial function, but allowing other uses than the pre-established ones. The house around the microwave is a look at life and history around the kitchen. The house around the doormat studies the appearance of the corridor, its function and use within the house. The house around the television, looks at the living room from its origin as a living room of appearance, to its death in the contemporary home. The house around the clothes-line is an observation of the exterior rooms of the house with their intended and unintended uses.
As concluding, but not final, notes, the author leaves us with some comparisons between different conceptual types of houses which, as a final result of the analysis, allow us to reflect on the current situation of domestic living and are worth highlighting. She highlights the characteristics present in contemporary housing, contrasting them with others that are more desirable.
The house as a process versus the finished house. An unfinished, ductile house, which can be perfected and which allows its inhabitants to complete it according to their needs. An evolving house, which can mutate and which is capable of responding to the needs of its inhabitants.
The diffused house versus the compact house. A house of ambiguous limits, where the boundaries between the private and the public are blurred, and concepts such as a house or public space take on different nuances.
The useful house versus the house subject to ordinances. The house that promotes spaces for mixed uses and socialisation. A house that comes out of the corset of the regulations and the ties of the false economies referred to housing, which means that the house is not designed for enjoyment, nor to live in, but to comply with the minimum square metres.
The house without names versus the labelled house. A house where terms such as bedroom, hall, dining room or concepts such as day areas and night areas are replaced by others that allow for greater flexibility and the possibility of uses.
The flexible house versus the specialised house. A house that allows changes and polyvalence of uses. A house that takes into account the evolution of new cohabitation groups.
The available house versus the optimal house. Better is the house we already have, changing things and making modifications that allow us to accommodate the space to our expectations. The furniture we already have and enjoy is better than buying a new designer armchair.
The digital house versus the disconnected house. The house, and architecture in general, must be able to house selves, part of this being the virtual self, where we generate a digital identity and where we have relationships with others through the internet. A digital home that implies that wherever you are, you will also be in other places by being connected.
The productive house versus the dissociated house. A house with paid work spaces; a situation that is becoming more and more frequent and is not taken into account. To this end, it is appropriate to have a room near the entrance or in the corridor that can be dedicated to this activity, where it is possible to receive visitors if necessary.
Paula Olea Fonti (Argentina, 1993) is Master in Advanced Architectural Studies in the line Process, Project and Programming, since 2020, by the Escuela Técnica Superior de Barcelona, Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Architect, since 2019, from the Universidad Abierta Interamericana, Rosario, Argentina. She taught as an honorary student collaborator in the Project V course, in 2017 and 2018, at the Universidad Abierta Interamericana, Rosario, Argentina.
You can read the full research here.