Houses: The Latest Architecture and News
"The house is among the first concepts shared by society and architecture", states André Tavares and Pippo Ciorra, curators of the exhibition called At Home: Projects for Contemporary Housing, on display at Garagem Sul / Centro Cultural Belém, in Lisbon. The show, which is the unfolding of another one previously held at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, gathers pieces from the huge collection of the Italian institution and seeks intersections with contemporary Portuguese architectural production. Its main topic – the house, the home – has never been more discussed than right now.
Bringing together houses of different scales, built in diverse locations by various methods and techniques, and designed by Italian, Portuguese and international architects, the exhibition gathers, in groups of three, projects from which it is possible to weave relationships that go beyond geographies and materialities and foster reflections about the future of housing and what the home of tomorrow will look like.
We had the opportunity to talk with Tavares and Ciorra about the exhibition, its motivations and expectations with its opening in the physical venue of Garagem Sul. Read below.
The following text is excerpted from John S. Chase — The Chase Residence (Tower Books, 2020) by architect and University of Texas professor David Heymann and historian and Rice University lecturer Stephen Fox. Richly illustrated with archival materials and new drawings, the book is the first devoted to Chase, who was the first Black licensed architect in Texas. The study is divided into two parts, with Heymann examining the personal, social, and architectural significance of Chase’s own Houston house and Fox describing Chase’s architectural career.
This excerpt draws on Heymann’s analysis and highlights the first incarnation of the Chase Residence (Chase substantially altered its architecture in 1968). It places great emphasis on the house’s remarkable courtyard, a modernist innovation, and a singular statement about domestic living at the time. New section, elevation, and perspective drawings prepared for the book help illustrate the ingenuity of the house’s configuration. Finally, the excerpt was selected in part to honor Drucie (Rucker) Chase, who passed away in January of 2021.
In architecture, split-level houses are typically in response to a plot's uneven or sloping topography. In the case of the houses featured here, their split level interiors are a matter of function, allowing spaces to be virtually separated by dividing them between raised and semi-subterranean floor layouts. For example, adjoining two spaces with a 50cm step up or drop off allows for separation without the use of walls or other physical barriers.
The principles of bio-climatic architecture, when applied with an understanding of the surrounding climate and geography, can simultaneously increase a building's efficiency and create a more comfortable living space. Passive measures like solar panels, rainwater and grey water harvesting, openings for natural light, and cross-ventilation are all low-cost, high yield methods of increasing a home's thermal comfort and efficiency and decreasing its carbon footprint.
For much of the world, this past year was spent within the confines of our homes, undoubtedly blurring the lines between our public, professional, and private lives and transforming our living spaces into places of work and productivity. This transformation of spaces and how they are used is nothing new in the world of architecture as countless spaces take on various roles beyond what they were originally designed for--a fact reflected in their layout, design, and the materials used within them.
With the exception of some areas, within the three principal regions of Peru--coastal, mountain, and rainforest--the climate is characterized as tropical or subtropical and the differences in summer and winter temperatures is minimal, rarely reaching beyond 15 °C and 27 °C. This mild climate has thinned the line between exterior and interior spaces, a fact evident in the region's architecture.
Peru, with its varied geography and vast array of natural resources, renders an architectural style that makes itself one with the landscape. In the country's three principal terrains —coast, mountain, and rainforest— there is little variation in temperature and the climate can be defined as either tropical or subtropical.
Whether by traditional windows, linear openings in the wall, or skylights, the manipulation and incorporation of natural lighting in architectural projects can render a radical change in interior spaces.