This essay examines the role of façade and space in mass housing. It assumes that façade and space as main components of dwelling are able to express humanity, identity, freedom and well-being.
Maison Dom-ino by Le Corbusier was a basic building prototype which embodied design ideas about liberation. Its author’s aspirations were as much social and urban as structural and spatial.
Prototype’s legacy today is multi-storey mass housing around the world. The result is dual. On the one hand, there is an efficiency of the building process, a flexibility of variation through standardisation and unification. On another hand – it is alienation, lack of humanity and personality.
The field of interest of design research unit is construction. My interest lays in the intersection between structural technology and social issues.
At first, the research examines the Maison Dom-ino, its space and structure, relationship with an external world and finally, its legacy - mass produced housing.
Next, the research looks at the free façade in the context of Le Corbusier’s ideas and its meaning in the wider context. Research inspects liberation and identification of the façade of the mass housing through architectural expressions supported by structural transformations.
Finally, it looks at progress and failure of mass housing. Research examines more than 30 precedents of mass housing and tries to summarise the methods of liberation in mass housing. In these precedents and case studies, it tries to find out the factors responsible for successful communication between content and skin, between ideas and their representation.
The research uses a reading, writing and making to investigate methods of liberation that tackle issues of human scale, individuality and freedom in mass housing and its external appearance.
Object engages in this discourse with speculation about possible solutions to these problems. It looks at Maison Dom-ino as an experimental platform for architectural ideas.
In conclusion, research summarises the methods of liberation in mass housing as follows: internal flexibility, vertical dimension, separate units, hybrid, parasite and special facade. These methods overlap in their expressions and technical solutions and with a common aim to create a liberating living environment.
METHODS OF LIBERATION
1. FLEXIBLE HOUSING
The researchers Jeremy Till & Sarah Wigglesworth, and Tatjana Schneider in their project define meaning of the flexible housing and arguments for it. Socially, it provides control to inhabitants over their own dwelling. Demographically, it offers a possibility to transform dwelling accordingly to the current situation. Economically, it slows down the functional, physical and moral ageing of a building and reduces resulting expenses related with its transformation. Technically, it provides effective servicing (Schneider, 2007).
The hybrid nature of the contemporary project alludes to the current simultaneity of realities and categories, relating no longer to harmonious and coherent bodies, but rather to mongrel scenarios made up of structures and identities in parasitic coexistence.’ - by this Manuel Gausa (2000:293) describes formations not only in architecture which become one of the characteristics of Postmodernity. These formations are feeding each other and creating new environments around themselves. In mass housing, it means adding different functions to housing function.
MVRDV is an architecture practice, one of “second modernity” architects whose “anti-dogmatic” approach is resulted in many innovative housing designs which address a wide spectrum of issues.
Berlin Voids is a significant combination of new concepts which challenges Modernist clichés of mass housing for example – standardisation. This competition work is a synthesis of antipodal aspects – concentration of living spaces in one volume like typical urban block and differentiation of these spaces through their spatial typology Constanzo, 2006). Typology, in turn, plays on house concept – spatially unique yet interconnected it also reflects on ‘... the inner dynamism of contemporary society...’(Constanzo, 2006:17). This is also a typical example of another liberating concept – special façade.
3. SPECIAL FAÇADE
Wozoco’s apartments and The Housing Silo both in Amsterdam are other contemporary examples of advanced housing by MVRDV. Here, in both projects, facade plays a significant role by successfully expressing its inner content and also by liberating their inhabitants. Thus Wozoco’s apartments are an impressive modernist concept of liberating man from ground. It is achieved by large cantilevered volumes – living units.
Whereas Silodam is liberating example by using ‘... a multiplicity of closely interrelated functions inside the building...’ (Constanzo, 2006:112). It also plays with city’s housing typology – row houses within one large volume. This creates mini neighbourhoods which are enriched with different ancillary functions. It also respects future inhabitants’ individual wishes by creating variety – each flat is unique. This building also is a bright reminiscence of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation. The main similarity here is a vertical dimension.
4. VERTICAL DIMENSION
5. SEPARATE UNITS