The House, Public
loud paper started this issue with the impression that the debate about certain types of housing – specifically rental and subsidized – had become declassé, somehow not important enough to warrant coverage in the mainstream journals that keep us informed about this profession. This debate was somehow missing from a contemporary architectural discourse that favors the glam of computer-generated form and the spectacle of the image over the budget and restraint of reality. I hope that there might perhaps be a renew interest in examining the repercussions on our profession of the rapidly deteriorating programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other like agencies who deliver housing and shelter for those in our society who may not be able – or who may not believe – that the attainment of property is one of the first steps in the ladder of acceptance as a legitimate member of American society. Architecture’s currency, however, has turned from a vested interest in the advancement of society to a vested interest to the advancement of form, with a side pursuit of being displayed in museums, or building the museums in which to be displayed.
The last century of our collective work towards solving the issues and problems inherent in the idea of the minimum dwelling fly in the face of a clientele that is increasingly wanting larger and larger square footages in which to house their collections of Restoration Hardware heirlooms. While the large-scale "projects" of the 1960’s are increasingly disappearing, the twin issues of density and urbanity have been replaced by the more tasteful – read populist – and mannered new urbanisms. Picket fences, pitched roof profiles and pastel colors cannot solve urban housing. Indeed, this suburbanization of urban cores does more harm than good, with the total numbers of occupants dropping in the revitalization schemes.
There is still a lot of value in trying to relocate importance to housing and architecture. Europe seems ahead of North America in this respect, and there is much to learn from the emergent hybrids of uniting modern form with political, social and economic intent.