I’m a Fourth Year student in the University of Virginia School of Architecture. For my final project, I am developing a thesis project in the realm of housing. There is a vast array of options posed by this subject, but my interest in Architectural History, along with my architectural history major thesis topic inspired my design direction.
My architectural history thesis deals with 1920’s prefabricated residential architecture in America. This was a response to major societal and technological shifts that brought convenient and modern modes of living to the masses. Neighborhoods shot up all over the nation, filled with these homes, whose pieces were shipped by freight and assembled on site. The housing schemes display an unrivaled level of complexity, convenience, and modularity. Another major aspect behind these houses is that inhabitants were able to use vast arrays of options for design that allowed them to express individuality.
For my design thesis project, I am taking these aspects of complexity, convenience and modularity and applying it to a modern residential model intended to exist in any of today’s cities. Just as the assemblies of the 1920’s were highly standardized, the sizes of the apartments I’m designing are also uniform, to allow maximum versatility.
My project is made up of modules specially allocated for modes of daily life and personal preferences of users. The apartments offer a variety of arrangements and module variety, also to facilitate maximum versatility. The modules also move and operate to create different spaces, moods, and serve different functions for the appropriate mode of the inhabitant.
Why is this form of compact living appealing to inhabitants and developers alike? First of all, these apartments can be placed virtually anywhere, and with variable multiplicity. For my particular design role of this project, I used the dimensions of the bays in the old, abandoned Packard plant built in the early 20th century in Detroit, Michigan. These apartments can be inserted in pre-existing structure, fostering sustainability by means of conservation of materials as well of ensuring the longer lifespan of pre-existing structures, while also attracting activity to previously deserted areas.
I think this is highly crucial to the efforts of housing developers. We must use the assets, whether material or social, that we already possess, utilize what is positive and operable about those aspects, and adapt them for the future, just like I have with this project.