The article I specifically looked at was “Calling All Architects: New Approaches to Old Housing,” which featured 3 projects around the world that exemplified inventive design solutions to maintain and improve existing housing stock. Usually, these renovations cost less than half the amount it would to demolish and rebuild. From minimal interventions with maximum impact, to advocacy for policy changes and replicable models, these projects highlight the improvement of livability in social housing from the unit, right through to the neighborhood scale.
There is a growing body of research that demonstrates people with stable, affordable, well-designed housing lead healthier happier lives than those who are rent burdened or precariously housed. Historically, housing has been considered distinct from architecture. Housing was seen as a socio-economic product to be delivered at the least possible cost and mass produced, whereas architecture was considered a cultural endeavour, something more ‘poetic’.
In other words, housing was seen as a commodity, while architecture was a luxury.
The articles and projects featured in this journal highlight the expanded role of the architect as an advocate and activist in the betterment of lives through the built environment, and demonstrate how housing projects and the design processes behind them can be interventions towards greater social equity, fair access to opportunities, and resources for an economically stable life.