UBC Graduate Research

Appropriation of The Home Fernando, Nicholas 2020-12-18

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Appropriation of The HomeNicholas Fernando B.Sc, University of Toronto, 2015Committee: Matthew Soules (Chair), Edward Ozimek, Marianne Amodio, Inge Roecker© December 2020Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture’ in The Faculty ofGraduate Studies, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Architecture ProgramABSTRACT:  Appropriation is how residents of a home begin to incorporate their home into their own identity — and their identity into their home. This process is seen as essential for our ability to forge an emotional connection to our home and develop a sense of belonging and stability. This thesis explores how homes can be designed to foster appropriation. My research suggests that a strong sense of personality and character within the architecture of the home is essential for this process, as the home must be able to distinguish itself as a unique space within the world. The character of homes as been declining for the past century due to many factors, most importantly the commodification of the home and the resultant desire for each home to have as broad an appeal as possible. My project does not attempt to directly overturn these strongly embed forces of capital, but instead finds a way to work subversively within the existing system. Specifically, it sees residents abil-ity to modify and physically appropriate the spaces of their home as a way to imbue them with character. My final design proposes a small apartment building that leaves room for both psychological interpretation and physical appropriation by residents. The building is designed to inspire and utilize residents own creative energy to produce architectural di-versity and specificity, ultimately fostering their ability to appropriate their homes.iiTable of Contents:Front Materi. Title Pageii. Abstractiii. Table of ContentsBody1. GP1 Report: Character/Home22. GP2: Appropriation and Transformation of the Home87. BibliographyiiiPART I GP1 Report: Character/Home1Contents1 24568911121415161819AbstractPart I: Essay Background: Characterless Homes Appropriation of the Home Secrets  Character Housing Facade Lobotomy The Privilege of Choice Adaptation to the Everyday Moving In Touching Souls A Malleable Home Legacy of the Everyday Writing a Home Back to Basics 232434394142Part II: Site Investigation Secret Moments Active Occupation    Signs of WearAppendix What makes a home AppropriationBibliography2AbstractThe vast majority of  new homes that get built are bland. They are constructed by a system where developers, with no knowl-edge of  who might come to occupy the house or housing they build, ensure their product is viable by choosing a design that appeals to the lowest common denominator (Massey 37). Once this design is found it is often repeated ad nauseam, either as tract housing in suburban sub-developments or units in a high-rise condominium. While such efforts are successful in their goals — producing housing that offends very few and might be pur-chased or rented by almost anyone — they also produce hous-ing that elicits joy from almost no one. In the interest of  this universality of  appeal, the architecture of  the contemporary home is robbed of  the character, uniqueness, and excitement that might appeal to and elicit these same characteristics in its residents.This thesis does not seek to offer a universal design solution to these issues: in fact, it is opposed to the idea of  universal solutions in general. Instead it offers an analysis of  the problem and a series of  fragmentary but closely related suggestions. It presents ideas, with the hope that each reader might arrive at the solution that most agrees with their subjective experience and their personal preference. At its core, this thesis argues for homes with personality and character, but acknowledges that the content of  this character is up to each architect and each occupant to determine and to mould. 3Background: Characterless HomesAs Jonathan Massey explores in his article “Risk and Regulation in the Financial Architecture of  American Houses”, the way houses have been financed, and how they’ve been conceived of  as financial assets, has had major architectural implications for th home (21). Before the early 1900’s, new houses were almost exclusively commissioned by their future residents (Massey 23). They were not conceived of  as agents of  financial gain: mortgages may have been taken out against them, and they were certainly understood to be re-sellable, but this would have been seen as a last resort (Massey 24). Essentially, the desire of  the time was for a house to become a permanent home, and this desire outweighed whatever financial interests it might hold.In the modern day more and more homes are built by develop-ers to be resold, with only 11% of  new homes in British Colum-bia commissioned by their future residents (British Columbia Government EJournal Collection BC, 2015). These developer driven homes most often exist in tract housing sub-developments, composed of  one or two homes repeated hundreds of  times. Even those houses that are commissioned or renovated by their residents are un-derstood as explicit financial assets (Massey 41). House flipping is a more extreme example, in which residents attempt to improve their home while occupying it, aiming at a quick resale for prof-it. But in the modern economy, where we’re trained to see our houses as assets, almost all forms of  home ownership exist as long term “flips”, with the hope that either through improve-ment or favorable market shifts the owner can eventually resell for profit. When commissioning a home, then, owners will often defer their architectural preferences to a more universal appeal, making their eventual resale easier and more profitable. This is perhaps most clearly evidenced by “McMansions”, which utilize signifiers of  wealth, such as classical columns and high-ceilinged foyers, to appear more luxurious than they are and ultimately re-sell for a higher value (Massey 41).The resulting houses necessarily appeal to the lowest common denominator. But do we need every house to be the same for everyone to enjoy where they live? Given the plurality of  con-temporary society days, it seems we would want a widely varied housing stock, in which each potential buyer or renter might have a chance to find an existing home that suits their own preferences. But of  course we run into problems of  excessive individualism: at any given time a very limited fraction of  hous-es are on the market, and the more highly individualized they are, the less likely any one person will find one acceptable to their needs. It seems as though, ironically, as society has become more varied, in the interest of  universal appeal housing has be-come less so. In a more differentiated society there is not only a greater variety of  likes, but also a greater variety of  dislikes. To avoid being disliked, housing has had to settle into a state of  extreme blandness, and in doing so had avoided being par-ticularly “liked” as well. This tension between the increasingly varied needs and wants of  individuals and the decreasing variety in housing is a fundamental problem this thesis seeks to address. I will not attempt to do so with a universal solution: I will ask, in as many ways as possible, how we might arrive at homes that can be as individual as their occupants.“Residential architecture has all too often overlooked potential to move us an influence our behaviour, as well en-rich the daily life of its residents”     —Ola Naylander (139)“Disciplined by risk to make conser-vative choices, these house builders imitated one another in their decisions about type, size, siting, and style. At the same time, the small scale of deci-sion making and construction yielded extensive variety in the specific elab-oration and detailing of those familiar forms.”     —Jonathan Massey (25)“Promoted as they were by financial rather than physical obsolescence,-such teardowns highlighted the cen-trality of financing to the architecture of American houses”     —Jonathan Massey (39)“The idea of standardization, useful though it might be in banks, is ill suit-ed to the complicated and varied activ-ities that are contained by the home. Because of this, Le Courbusier’s ideas about domestic planning were less sophisticated than those of domestic engineers.”     — Witold Rybczynski (Rybczynski 192)Part 1: Essay4Appropriation of the HomeIn his book “Architecture of  the home”, Ola Naylander explores the concept of  architectural appropriation with regards to the home (the general concept of  architectural proportion is further discussed in the appendix).  In Naylander’s interpretation “ap-propriation is how residents incorporate space and architecture into the projects and patterns of  their lives’’ (21). Appropriation involves the identification of  the self  with one’s residence, and the identification of  one’s residence with one’s sense of  self. Put another way, it is the process by which we come to view a house as our home.Through a series of  straight-forward but in depth interviews with residents of  four different Swedish apartment buildings, Naylander tries to discern what architectural elements of  each unit have fostered the process of  appropriation. He found resi-dents had the strongest association with material, detailing, day-light, and the relation of  spaces to one another (Naylander 20). Each of  these are things that we are likely to only appreciate, or perhaps even only notice, after having spent some time living in a place. Details are more subtle than larger forms, and to truly appreciate how a space receives daylight we might have to spend every day there for an entire year. Such things are not obvious to the casual observer or guest.When forging a personal connection, it is shared secrets that create a true sense of  intimacy. In divulging those things that no one else knows about yourself  you hand a piece of  your own identity over to another to hold and protect. It’s not so much the substance of  the secret that matters as the act of  sharing. Any house will bear witness to your most intimate moments, but a good house will share its own secrets with you. SecretsIs an understanding of  a home’s secrets fundamental to a sense of  belonging? Those things that are obvious about your home, the spacious living room, the nice brick facade, certainly you appreciate them, but are they really what makes the home feel like yours? I believe it’s the more intimate things, those things you could only know by living there, and perhaps by living there for quite some time, that give us a sense of  belonging. Detailing, the nuances of  materials, light at a certain time of  day, how a doorknob feels in your hand, or a breeze floats between win-dows. Above and beyond the content of  a home’s secretes, the very fact that you know those things which no one else does is proof  of  the time spent with your home and of  the intimacy of  your relationship to it. Your home knows your most intimate self, and it seems only fair the relationship should be reciprocal. A home’s secrets do not need to be a things. The way your body moves between the cupboard, the stove and the kitchen sink as you prepare your daily breakfast — this can also be a secret. In-deed, the relation of  your own body to the space you call home is perhaps the most personal and truly private experience of  the home. It is a unique experience that is the product of  both the space and yourself, a dance of  souls incomplete without the other.A secret might also be a memory. It might have no relation to the space itself, a precious encounter that could have occurred in any room, in any house. These memories are of  great impor-tance in coming to feel a sense of  belonging in a home, but they cannot necessarily be designed for, at least not in a prescriptive sense. They arise naturally and unexpectedly. But still, could the setting, the space of  the house, still be active in making them more vivid? Could it encourage these profound events to oc-cur, and could it provide a sense of  place that solidifies and frames such memories? I belive this sense of  place — that is, the strength with which a space pervades your memories within it — is a product of  that spaces uniqueness, those qulities it has that let you know it is there and no where else. A space with such qulities would produce a fertile ground for these associations, these memories and secrets, to grow. “The house has grown into a knowl-edgeable witness . It has been party to early seductions, it has watched homework being written, it has observed swaddled babies freshly arrived from hospital, it has been surprised in the middle of the night by whispered conferences in the kitchen. It has experienced winter evenings when its windows were as cold as bags of frozen peas and midsummer dusks when its brick walls held the warmth of newly baked breadIt has provided not only physical but also psychological sanctuary. It has been a guardian of identity. Over the years, its owners have returned from periods away and, on looking around them, remembered who they were.”     — Alain De Botton (Botton 10)“Material and detailing begin the pro-cess of appropriation by signaling care for residents”     — Naylander (21)“No one wants to identify with poor workmanship”     — Naylander (21)“Without any gods, a piece of domestic architecture, no less than a mosque or a chapel, can assist in the commemo-ration of our genuine selves”     — Alain De Botton (Botton 119)““What would be the use for instance of giving the plan of the room that was really my room, in describing the little room at the end of the garret, in say-ing that from the window, across the indentations of the roof, one can see a hill. I alone in my memories of another century can open the deep cupboard that still retains form me the alone that unique odor, the odor of raisins drying on a wicker tray.”     — Gaston Bachelard (Bachelard 13)5Character HousingMore than any other piece of  architecture, we forge an emotion-al bond with our home. Its value goes far beyond its function of  shelter, recreation, and sleep, existing as an architectural embod-iment of  stability within our lives. A physical constant to which we return each night, it caps our endlessly varied days with the familiar and the comfortable.When we design a house, how do we design for this intimate connection knowing that each person, their routines, their plea-sures, their preferences, are so different? In a small minority of  cases we might design a home directly for its occupant, a client commissioning their own abode. But even here, the case is not clear cut. Firstly, there is a constant tension between what a cli-ent says they want and what they might actually enjoy. If  it was as simple as following their instructions to a “T” architecture would be an extremely straightforward profession. Secondly, if  the building functions properly, we would hope that it would outlive its initial occupants. Inevitably, someone else will come to call the same space home. A design overly specific to its first occupant might be less suitable to those in the future. But a de-sign overly general is sure to be bland. In the majority of  cases, we must design a house with no knowl-edge of  who will call it home. In almost every apartment build-ing the design is fully executed before any buyers or renters are found. And this could hardly be any other way, after all who would want to buy a unit not knowing what it would be like? In these buildings it’s typical that a few units are repeated dozens, or even hundreds of  times. Inevitably, the same unit will be oc-cupied simultaneously by a wide variety of  unique individuals, each of  whom might have different needs and desires. How can we design for all of  these?One solution is to make each home a blank slate. Plenty of  room for wall hangings and furniture, with the architecture neu-tral enough to fade into the background. But what I remember of  my childhood home are the quirks, those things that set it apart for other’s homes and help it feel unique. It seems like a great concession for architecture to give up its own personality in the interest of  blandness. If  a home is something we forge a connection with, certainly we would form a stronger, deeper bond with a complicated and distinctive personality. Reviving John Ruskin’s terminology, Alain de Botton discusses works of  architecture as things that “speak” (62). To further this analogy, we might ask not only what we would want our homes to say, but how they might say it. It seems to me, for example, that a home would be a better companion if  it wasn’t overly talkative. Since you’re obligated to spend so much time in its presence, and since you’ll inevitably be performing some tasks that have no real relation to the space, it would be awkward if  it were constantly distracting you with conversation. A good house might talk to you only when you’re not occupied, fad-ing sufficiently into the background not to distract from other activities, but filling silences with a comforting presence. And certainly, when you want to engage with the architecture of  the home, it should respond thoughtfully to your questions. It should be open for investigation, and reveal varying levels of  depth in response to your level of  intrigue.This characterization, of  the house as reserved yet deep and complex offers us some solution to the problem of  the uni-versal and the personal in housing. Given its varied occupants, a house ought not to be too loud and should know to keep to itself  when its particular opinions are unwanted. But in the right company (and perhaps even the wrong company will grow ac-cepting as time builds familiarity) a house ought slowly to reveal its depth and its mystery.““You could walk out of the house, but you always returned to the home”     — Witold Rybczynski (Rybczynski 62)“Belief in the significance of architec-ture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places - and on the conviction that it is architecture’s task to render vivid to us who me might ac-tually be.”     — Alain De Botton (Botton 12)“There are magic rooms with amusement and delight in the air… There is an atmosphere that goes straight to the heart, a sense of mystery amidst the everyday, a kind  of charge about the simplest things that animates them and gives reality a new dimension”     — Ellen Key (Naylander 10)6Facade LobotomyWe’ve talk about how a home apears to its residents, those within it, but how important is a home’s outward appearance? Should its facade represent its true character? Like Koolhaas’s “mono-lithic” towers, and ultimately the blocks of  the Manhattan grid, it is sometimes the most straight forward order that conceals the most complex inner lives (Koolhaus 100). The “lobotomy”, a sever-ance of  the tie between the exterior and interior,  allows inoffen-sive shells to contain all forms of  potentially offensive activity. It’s almost a necessity, if  we are to live in close proximity and if  we are each to live a highly individualistic life, that our homes do not broadcast all our activities, our desires, or our peculiarities out onto the world.The outward appearance of  a home need convey its character no more than the physiognomy of  a human. Its countless times that we get to know someone only to realize that our first impres-sion, the impression we got form how they looked, was wildly wrong. At very least, the visual character one displays to the outside world can never hope to be as complex and as nuanced as what lies within. After all, differences in people appearances are dwarfed by differences in their personalities.  Over time we come to associate our friends appearances with their actual char-acter, shedding whatever assumptions we had first made and re-placing them with truer associations. The same might be said of  the outward appearance of  a home: overtime its occupants will grow to associate it with its inner life regardless of  how it might look, and so it need not bear all to the outside world.The Privilege of ChoiceWhen architects write about domestic architecture, or any ar-chitecture for that matter, it’s typically described as embodying ideals, either as a reflection of  the values held by its intended occupants or as an aspirational set of  values to which its occu-pants might strive (Button). The aesthetic of  efficiency and mech-anization of  modernism, for example, strove not only to reflect a growing set of  values associated with the machine age, but also to enact the acceptance of  those values by society (Rybczynski 193). Although this transformative power of  architecture is often used coercively by architects to impose their own value systems on the occupants of  their buildings, it need not be so sinister. One might imagine, for example, that a person striving for a simpler life might hope to live in a minimal building to help en-act this change. But whether aspirational or reflective, it seems only reasonable that the architecture of  a home should embody a set of  ideals shared by its occupants. The architect’s role, in an ideal scenario, is to manifest these ideals in the space of  the home, and to act as a broker between their clients abstract self  and a complex reality. In reality, it is the rare exception, and not the rule, that an ar-chitect designs a home for its specific occupants. The majority of  new housing produced is done so for developers, whether in subdivision, apartment blocks, or even speculative detached homes. The ability of  a person to live in a home that reflects their desires is directly tied to their socio-economic status. The richest among us have the option to specifically have a house built to suit our needs. Even amongst these wealthy individuals this power is proportional to wealth, with the richest able to afford any such house of  their choosing, extravagant or simple as they desire, and the less wealthy limited in options by their means. Below this elite group who might actually commission their own home sits the middle-class, who can afford to buy an existing property and who, proportional to their wealth, have some choice in the matter. Lastly, the poor, who at least in the city are forced to rent, and often within a small price range, are largely at the will of  the market. When moving from one apart- ““In the deliberate discrepancy be-tween container and contained New York’s makers discover an area of un-precedented freedom. They exploit and formalize it in the architectural equiva-lent of  a lobotomy - the surgical sever-ance of the connection between frontal lobes and the rest of the brain relive some mental disorders by disconnect-ing thought processes from emotions. The architectural equivalent separates exterior  and interior architecture. In this way the monolith spares the out-side world the agonies of the continu-ous changes raging inside it. It hides everyday life.”     — Rem Koolhaas (Koolhaas 100) “In turn, those places whose outlook matches and legitimates our own, we tend to honor with the term ‘home’. Our homes do not have to offer us per-manent occupancy or store our clothes to merit that name. To speak of home in relation to a building is simply to recognize its harmony with our own prized internal song. Home can be an airport or a library, a garden or a mo-torway dinner”      — Alain De Botton (Botton 107)7ment to the next, they are not afforded the luxury one might have in shopping for a home, being able to select only amongst those apartments available at the specific date of  the termina-tion of  their previous lease, and limited within them based on price.Given how little choice so many have in the home they occu-py, most homes designed today might be occupied by any of  a highly disparate group of  individuals, each — especially in this highly individualistic age — with their own sets of  ideals and as-pirations. How might an architect try to take into consideration the needs of  the occupant of  a home with no knowledge of  who that might be? One way is to try to design a home as a blank canvas, something as intentional devoid of  meaning and as open to appropriation by occupants as possible. But then there are those, and they are many, who might rather not go through the effort of  constructing the environment of  their home, who would rather have it already populated with the meanings they desire. Further, there are those who don’t know what they desire until it’s presented to them, and who rely on the intuition of  the architect to supplement their own. How can an architecture be enacted to satisfy all these individuals, each of  whom might just as likely be its occupant?It would seem, as a beginning, any home might widen its appeal by being both a “completed” piece of  architecture and one that will appear equally “completed” after a bold occupant has had their way with it. It would be, essentially, both complete as is and extremely accommodating of  its own expansion and elab-oration. Adaptation to the EverydayEven if  one had ultimate choice in their own home, whether they select amongst countless options or commissioned its con-struction for themselves, there would still remain, upon moving in, a limitation in the extent to which the home might reflect their values and enhance their lives. There is an intimate knowl-edge of  our own daily routines and of  where we find simple joy in the mundane action of  our lives that others can simply not possess. However much expertise an architect might have, an individual will always remain the truest expert on their own everyday life. Furthermore, this knowledge cannot preempt the original architecture in which it’s constructed. Our daily routines are a product both of  ourselves and of  the home we inhab-it, and they can only be learned through the inhibition of  that space we come to call home. In this way a true adaptation of  our homes to ourselves and our routines can only be achieved after we move in. While we occupy and reflect on a space, often over a considerable period of  time, we come to realizations about its beauty as well as its shortcomings. It only makes sense then that the very last design decisions be well outside of  the hands of  professional archi-tects. If  an occupant truly wants a space that is theirs, it is up to them to dwell in it actively, to reflect on their lives and on the space and to design and enact responses to the fruit of  these reflections. “Modern people need a home, but not a perfect home. We need elements of strangeness to feel at home; a perfect home, where everything is always in the right place, quickly becomes both scary and unlivable. Both architecture and art can mirror the difficulties of life”     — Enrique Marty (Marty et al. 15)“Lillian Gailbraith’s flow process work charts and mico-motion transfer sheets were intended to enable the housewife to organize the home ac-cording to her own work habits. She continually reminded readers that there was no ideal solution; the height of a kitchen counter must be adjusted to the hight of the person, and the most useful layouts of appliances would vary from one household to the next”      — Witold Rybczynski (Rybczynski 191)“A feeling of beauty is a sign that we have come upon a material articulation of certain of our ideas of a good life.”     — Alain De Botton (Botton 52)8Moving In A young couple is smiling, full of  joy and expectation, wearing old flannel and sweatpants, long hair tied back with bandanas. They are repainting their newly purchased home. Perhaps the walls were a drab gray that sat in contrast to their youthful exu-berance, a colour whose replacement with a bright orange will bring the visual character of  the home more closely in line with their own dispositions. The act of  painting a new home has come to be an iconic, if  perhaps kitsch, expression of  “moving in”. Minor though this act may be, the psychological impact is obvious. Appropriation, the process by which we start to develop the sense of  a home being our own, is fundamental to our satisfaction with our place of  residence ( Naylander 21). Although this process happens naturally over time — for who can deny that they’ll feel more at home in a residence of  a decade then one of  only a month? — it can also be enacted directly by occupants of  a home through the exertion of  their own will on the space itself. This is exactly what happens in the painting of  a new house; it makes a house feel more one’s own because the physical existence of  the house is literally, if  only slightly, the product of  one’s own intentions and actions. The investment of  time into the modification (or perhaps equiv-alently the creation) of  one’s own space has resonance beyond the mere end product of  the modification itself. If  our young painters come across a free can of  brown paint and choose to use it instead of  their orange, the resulting colour might not match their inner selves any better than what had gone before, but surely they would still feel a greater ownership of  the space for the effort put in. If  our lives exist as a series of  moments, the investment of  time into the production of  one’s surroundings is the physical manifestation of  a tiny fraction of  one’s self. What better way to develop a deep connection with one’s home than to forge its space and its atmosphere out of  one’s very self.I can recount from personal experience the discomfort caused by a landlord’s stipulation that no nails be put in the wall. Sticky tack achieves much the same result, and the distinction between the two forms of  hanging a poster might seem trivial, but I would argue that it is exactly at their distinction that the division exists between what we might consider the most minor act of  architecture and what we would certainly not. The small per-manence of  a nail, whose removal will still leave itself  evident through a hole in the wall, represents a minor but decisive act of  building. The tack, on the other hand, will always be mere decoration. With my photographs and posters affixed to my bedroom walls with sticky tack it was hard to shake the feeling of  being a permanent guest in my own home — allowed to stay but constantly reminded that I would one day leave, and leave without a trace. The difference between painting a new house and tacking pho-tos to a wall is at least in part attributable to the difference be-tween ownership and rentership. This distinction is just one of  a number of  issues that disrupt the ability of  the renter to feel a sense of  “home”, which is inevitably associated with stabili-ty, belonging, and even permanence. We might ask then, how can architecture be created to bridge this gap and give renters a feeling of  belonging in their homes? How can a sense of  deep association and identification of  the home with the self  be fos-tered in the absence of  actual legal ownership? A good house might carry forward the memory of  its past dwellers while en-abling appropriation by those who wish to call it home. The hammering of  a nail and the painting of  a wall are well estab-lished and familiar acts of  moving not just ones possessions, but one’s sense of  self  into a new home. With these humble acts as inspiration, I hope to dramatically reconsider the interventions that might be employed to move one’s self  into a home. “...Stimmung - the sense of intimacy that is created by a room and its fur-nishings. Stimmung is a characteristic of interiors that has less to do with functionality than with the way the room conveys the character of its own-er - the way it mirrors his soul, as Praz poetically put it.”     — Witold Rybczynski (Rybczynski 43)“You don’t get your security deposit back anyway, so you may as well do what you want with the place. Consid-er it a ‘personality fee’ ”     — Amy Sedaris9Touching SoulsWhen two people have a long term relationship, it is expected that they will each change over time. Sometimes these changes are the result of  the relationship itself, each person being shaped by the other. This is a sign of  a truly deep connection, an im-print left on each partner by the other, a relationship with life long implications. The home you live in will almost inevitably shape you, although the quality of  its design might influence to what extent. On the other hand, a home is usually not shaped by its occupant. A more satisfying relationship with a home might involve permanent changes to the home itself  as the result of  occupation, a reciprocal impact that leaves both yourself  and your home with life long markings of  your time spent together.In any relationship changes might also be extrinsic, simply the natural progression of  personality over time. In these scenarios it is a resilient relationship that adapts — partners changing, and changing their relationship, in response. A home should also be adaptable. It should exist not just as a static object to serve the needs of  its occupants as they once were, but as a dynamic space which might strive to serve its occupants as they are at any given time.A Malleable HomeIf  we wish for an architecture that is easily modified by its oc-cupants on a broad scale, there would seem to be three issues of  the architecture’s openness to modification. Firstly, in its tec-tonics it must have a physical ease of  modification. Secondly, it must have significance of  how and where it can be modified. And lastly it must have an aesthetic and a spatiality that is itself  adaptability to modification. To illustrate all three, let’s consider a typical light wood framed Canadian home with walls of  paint-ed gypsum board,  and the addition of  an interior wall within it. In terms of  physical ease of  modification it does well, wood being easier to screw into than concrete or brick for example, but its layered construction provides some opposition. To effec-tively add a wall into the network of  studs, one must strip back the drywall, adding the difficult and dirty labour of  demolition to that of  creation. One must also locate the studs in the wall behind the drywall, which touches on the second issue, that of  signification. A home that signifies how to be modified would indicate where its studs were, and a home that signified permis-sion to modify might employ other means as well. Lastly, how might a new, ad hoc wall look in our traditional home? And how might it function? If  covered in painted drywall our new wall might “fit in”, but if  a rawer aesthetic had been employed in the first place there might have been no need. Then again, the neutrality of  painted drywall might be aesthetically more per-missive because of  its dullness, less likely to contrast whatever form of  wall might be built. And spatially, does the home con-tain areas that might be fruitfully divided? Or spaces that might be fruitfully joined? This has to do with the size of  rooms and spaces in plan, and also their relation in section as well as the position of  elements such as windows and structural walls that might influence or limit how the space might be modified. Here I have  course focused on a single issues in a specific typology, but hopefully you can see how this might have parallel across building types and occupant needs. “I remember you told me, you said  ’Love is touching souls’  Surely you touched mine  ‘Cus part of you pours out of me  In these lines from time to time”      —Joni Mitchell “The jargon, the way we talk about our issues, nobody except an architect un-derstands”      — Alejandro Aravena (Winston)“Everybody should design their own home. I’m against architects designing homes. How do I know that you want to live in a picture-window Colonial? It’s silly, but you might want to. Who am I to say?”     — Philip Johnson (Johnson)10Legacy of the EverydayA select few among us have reconciled themselves with the ephemeral nature of  existence. The rest of  us struggle con-stantly with our mortality. Religion, art, and even personal re-lationships are all in some ways driven by a desire to escape the inevitable and outlive our bodies, either through an afterlife, through a permanent piece of  self  expression, or through the memories of  others. Architecture achieves this immortality, or at least extended presence in the world, for its designers through self  expression, and of  its commissioners through memory. The oldest works of  architecture are actually often more associated with their commissioners, or those to whom they’re dedicated. The great pyramids of  Giza, for example, are remembered as dedications to their Pharaohs, not as great works of  architec-ture by Hemiunu. Ancient works also often serve to immortalize the cultures and civilizations from which they’ve arisen, usually though an expression of  that civilizations religions, such as the Parthenon, the Pantheon, or more recent churches, but also at time broader ideas about the organization of  these societies, as is the case for most palaces, castles or civic buildings. Even religious monuments record the daily lives and sensibilities of  the societies from which they arose, both through their spatial organization, which often portrays much about the rituals of  societies, and more explicitly through their ornamentation.This power of  architecture to immortalize is not unique amongst the arts, but architecture archives it perhaps more ef-fectively than any other. Works of  architecture are, owing to their mass and durability, some of  the longest surviving pieces of  art. Buildings are amongst the largest and most robust things any group of  individuals or society produces, and they also hap-pen to also be, at times, expressive art.  But I am not here to try to enact architects immortality through architecture: I’m curious about how architecture immortalizing power might be directed towards its occupants. I’m not speak-ing of  those who commissioned a private house, or a university building with their name on it, but about the everyday occu-pants, those simply living in a home. They are daily in contact with something that has potentially millennial of  future, yet their lives, as all lives, are so short. It feels incongruous, perhaps even disenchanting, that we should forge so many memories of  our homes the act not reciprocated, to not be remembered when we’re gone. Given the proximity and intimacy with which we all interact with our own homes, I hope that the home might be seen as a long lasting vessel whose permanence residents can tap into in order to extend their presence in the world beyond their lifetime — that is, in order to be remembered either di-rectly or through the consequences of  their actions. The way in which one modifies a home can be a direct expression of  how they lived, and perhaps more importantly how they wanted to live. It is a piece of  themselves, captured and made permanent in small but meaningful architectural interventions. It might be spatial, and just as legitimately it might be aesthetically expres-sive. The continued existence of  this expression of  self, this memory within the architecture, would, I think, make death a little more palatable.And would you not want a house with a memory of  its past oc-cupants? It seems almost a truism to say that we love old build-ings. We love their histories, and we love seeing them manifested physically. It’s a thrill to see the Pantheon not only because of  the masterful architecture and engineering of  the Romans, but also because of  the evidence of  its use and reuse over the cen-turies, which connect us to people from all ages and allow us to truly experience its age, even lending legitimacy and perspective to the roman legacy behind it all. Why must such power and nuance remain in the realm of  monumental architecture? Could we not bring it to the mundane? To the home?“One can sense a relationship to na-ture in genuine building materials. Each plank of an old pine floor seems to speak of its origins, from the felling of a tree in the woods to its treatment in a saw mill. This is the kind of eas-ily comprehensible relationship that makes something seem genuine The careful installation of the dressed planks in the rooms of an old house also reveals traces of a previous gen-erations work. Wooden planks have been joined together to make a floor with the help of simple hand tools. The planks lie side by side, the width of each given by the thickness of a tree trunk. Each plank is marked with the footsteps of former generations, the soft early wood between the an-nual rings has been worn down and scoured out with soap and water over the years, leaving the harder late wood raised like a relief carved by history.We can read and interpret all of this. The origin, production and use of ma-terials are part of our common con-sciousness and memory”     — Naylander (24)“As time passes the relation of our world to the events that created it di-minishes in exactitude as it grows in breadth, the downstream effects be-coming more widespread and less spe-cific. In this way each moment of time lives on in eternity, gradually moving from the direct and intelligible towards the dispersed and incomprehensible. It morphs from something isolated to something integral, no longer clearly knowable because it is merely part of the fabric of the universe”     — MeThe verb ‘to dwell’ has a distinct mean-ing. At one time it meant to hesitate, to linger to delay, as when we say, ‘he is dwelling too long on this insignificant matter.’ To dwell, like the verb to abide (from which we derive abode) simply means to pause, to day put for a length of time; it implies that we will eventu-ally move on”.      — John Brinckerhoff Jackson          (Jackson 91)11Writing a HomeLiterary descriptions of  architecture contain relatively little in-formation compared to the complexity of  the spaces they cause us to imagine. This fragmentary representation is co-opted by the reader and interpreted through their own highly personal lens to form their own conception of  the space. I imagine a sim-ilar mode of  operation might be employed in real architecture. That it might be designed with certain realized elements, that its complex life and its true manifestation might be subjectively determined by its occupants. In a novel the author is certainly given full credit for their work and, though its interpretations vary greatly, it must appeal to something of  a more universal nature in order to reach its audi-ence. After all, why would some passages receive such universal acclaim, and others be so universally ignored, if  each reader’s experience was entirely individual? The architect might operate in the same way as the author, producing a real architecture that exists as a few key moments, with the rest left to be elaboration on and invented by the imagination of  its occupant. The existence of  this subjectively constructed architecture only within the imagination of  the occupant might be an interesting topic of  investigation for another time, but here we will focus on the tangible. Just as the architect is producing the physical version of  an author’s description, the occupant may physically produce the imagination of  the reader. One might think that the occupant could relay their mental interpretation of  the space to an architect, or a builder, or both, and allow them to construct their imagination of  space. But the purity of  the occupants orig-inal interpretation of  the space is diluted by the broken tele-phone that is sure to ensue. The architect and builder are here like the critic of  poetry as described by Bachelard, who might hope to aid the reader in their understanding of  a space. But as Bachelard notes, the critic avoids what he terms the “pure poet-ic experience”, relying instead on post rationalization (xxiv). The truest subjective interpretation of  a space is its modification by the occupantBack to BasicsAll this has become perhaps a bit too grand and abstract for a thesis concerned with everyday life. I’d like to end the discus-sion by scaling back and examining what currently exists in our homes that achieves this development of  an intimate relation-ship that I’ve been talking about. I’ve already discussed the rich inner character of  homes, their secrets and their confidences, as being present in the nuances of  their details and their material and their capture of  sunlight. The deeper character of  homes are indeed most often found in such things, but they need not be limited to them. Arrangements of  spaces and their interac-tions with daily routines and with the body itself  can be equally as intimate, perhaps more so for their visceral nature. Shifts of  space, in plan or in section, can be intimate depending on how self  evident they make themselves. It’s that which takes time and effort to know and understand that rewards us with a sense of  intimacy, and any thing that provides joy as the fruit of  these efforts is an intimate thing.It is true too that evidence of  time and of  effort, even when the resulting evidence is unintentional, builds intimacy. What I have discussed above is primarily intentional modification of  the home to suit one’s need and one’s character. This is per-haps the more obvious way to make the point that a space we’ve modified space is one to which we feel a greater connection, but it is less practicable than the unintentional alternative; that is, the markings of  a space by its regular use. Markings of  use —  worn wooden treads, the scuffed paint on a threshold, a brass door knob polished on one side, where the hand always grabs it — also indicate to us a connection foraged over time. Like the modification of  the home, these markings are physi-cal manifestations of  our action, our selves, and more obliquely of  our intentions and our wants. They record a pattern of  use, preferences and habits. Unlike an intentional modification they are rarely aspirational, limited in their expression by what already exists. But in some ways they are more sincere: lacking in inten-tion they are records of  more subconscious and unstated desires and needs. They display what we like, not what we want to like.“Paradoxically, in order to suggest the values of intimacy, we have to induce in the reader a state of suspended reading. For it is not until his eyes have left the page that recollections of my room can become a threshold of onei-rism for him.”     — Gaston Bachelard (Bachelard 14) “What we call a home is merely any place that succeeds in making more consistently available to us the im-portant truths which the wider world ignores, or which our distracted and irresolute selves have trouble holding on toAs we write, so we build: to keep a re-cord of what matters”     — Alain De Botton (Botton 123)12Especially within the context of  a thesis project, which must acknowledge that it will never be realized, a direct modification of  a home by its occupants posses the issue of  being necessarily contrived: the home will never exist, and neither will its occu-pants. A home that is prone to wear, and that in doing so records and displays the lives of  its occupants might, on the other hand, lend itself  to a project who’s future can be understood even in the absence of  its reality.As a way forward my thesis will investigate the potential to de-sign a home for a true sense of  intimacy. It will seek to maximize the response of  the home to our daily routines. It will record the lives of  its inhabitants, creating a legacy that might outlive them in order to foster a sense of  belonging and permanence in the face of  that which is always temporary, the act of  dwelling. It will have a complex and deep inner life, which will reveal itself  only over time and through the effort of  inhabitation. It will be open to change, modification, addition, and subtraction, but will have a permanent self  that survives through the years. It will be a home with a character just as complex, as mysterious, and over time just as malleable as any human might be.13Part II: Site Investigation4580 West 11th Ave, Vancouver. My home.14Secret MomentsMy home accepts daylight beautifully.But it lacks depth in its details and materials.1516Active OccupationOur occupation of the space has changed its function and its character.171819Signs of WearProof that we’ve lived.Memories of those we’ve never know.2021PART IIGP2: Appropriation and Transformation of the Home22This project explores transformation and appropriation as a tools for constructing a sense of character and belonging within the home.Thesis Statement:23This project is presented though a short narrative focused on four groups of residents.The story takes place in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighborhood.24I: THE FREE SPIRIT25Our first protagonist is Donna. A member of Kitsilano’s older generation, she first moved here in the 1970’s when the area was still a hippie enclave, and she still shares many of these sensibilities. In her retirement and living alone, she’s looking to sell her house and downsize to a small apartment while remaining in the neighborhood she’s called home for nearly 50 years. She wants an apartment with outdoor space to maintain her garden, a quite space for meditation, and two levels, with her bedroom in the upper section, as she’s so used to living in a house. She also needs a spare room for her son who comes to visit every now and then. 26FLOOR 1FLOOR 2She moves into this unit with a large, doubled heighted space and several small rooms flanking. Before she moves in she has the large space divided in two to form two separate levels.27The main room is fitted with bolt-tie details to facilitate easy modification.288”16”1/2“ Steel Bolt7/8” Hex Head 1/2“ Steel Bolt7/8” Hex Head The bolt ties are steel pieces embedded in the concrete form work of the walls built to accept a 1/2” steel bolt, a standard construction material. They are spaces at 16” intervals, based on typical North American construction dimensions, making them easily adaptable to a number of different construction systems.29The bolt-ties are used to secure a wood stringer directly to the wall to construct a simple staircase.To form a second floor, a ledger is secured to the wall of which timber joists are hung. Tongue-and-groove decking is used to form the floor.30The room is now divided vertically into two separate spaces.31FLOOR 1FLOOR 2Donna occupies the new space121. Bedroom2. Meditation Space3. Balcony Garden4. Son’s Bedroom5. Living Room6. Kitchen5 43632Living room and Bedroom33Meditation Space34Garden Balcony35Eventually, in addition to her son’s occasional visits, Donna is joined more permanently by her niece who will stay with her for a few years while she studies at the University of British Columbia. She will need her own private bedroom.36The bolt-tie detail on the floor is used to secure footer boards, off which simple plywood walls are constructed to enclose a small room.37FLOOR 1FLOOR 238The occupation of the living room shifts to accommodate the new bedroom39II: THE BOYS40That summer the boys move in. A group of sixteen young Australians, they’re here for a working holiday on Canada’s generous youth work visa program. Every year hundreds if not thousands of young people form Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, and many other places around the world, come to Vancouver for this kind of vacation, exploring both the natural surroundings and Vancouver’s night life and local culture. In they daytime they work as house painters, landscapers, and any other jobs they can find to help finance their holiday. Here for a short but intense time, they are more concerned with economy then comfort, especially as they will spend most of their time outside of the house. All they need is an affordable place to rest their heads for a few hours between late nights at the club and early mornings off to work.41FLOOR 1FLOOR 2They move into this unit to the East of Donna’s42A rolling door above the kitchen is used to divide this space of from more space to the East.43FLOOR 1FLOOR 2The boys are able to sublet Donna’s son’s bedroom to gain a little extra space, as he won’t be in town this summer.They also negotiate shared use of the balcony.44FLOOR 1FLOOR 2The boys occupy the space as shown here. The main space is used as a combine living dining room. A small residual space at the top of a stair well that could otherwise connect to an upper level is used a small escape from the busy life below. Donna’s son’s bedroom is not used for sleeping in any permanent way. It is set aside for casual encounters in case any of the boys is lucky enough to make a connection with a stranger and bring them home for the night. The boys themselves sleep in a large storage room to the south. This arrangement of space is a direct architectural expression of their unusual properties: putting pleasure above comfort they dedicate a whole room for sex while sleeping sixteen in a confined area.1. Balcony2. Living and Dining3. Sex Room3. Sleeping Area1 23445This oversized closet is equipped with shelves 900mm deep and 900mm tall. It can fit a wide variety of items but is also well sized for the human body. The boys use the 4 levels of shelves to sleep sixteen people.46The shelves remind the boys of the many hostels they’ve stayed in around the world, and add to the felling of vacation that summer. 47The balcony is a place of gathering form themselves and their other friends who’ve also come for the summer. Even Donna occasionally joins in the fun, their youthful exuberance reminding her of her early days in Kitsilano. 48The space at the top of the stairs remains divided from the unit above by large doors, which are locked in a permanently closed position.49It provides a space of respite from the busy environment below, and even for an occasional call back home.50III: TWO FAMILIES51When the summer ends and the boys move out, two families move in. The Smiths and the Johnsons have both lived in Vancouver for some time, but as their kids grow older they are looking for a little more space. Neither family is able to find an apartment they can afford on their own, and so they decide to share a large space to save money. They are hoping for some private space as well as some shared common spaces.52FLOOR 1FLOOR 2They take over the boy’s apartment an use the rolling door above the kitchen to annex more space on the main floor.53The door is moved from its down position to its fully open middle position, creating an open flow of space from one side to the other.54FLOOR 1FLOOR 2The stair case is also opened up to connect to some space on the upper floor.55One of the doors is switched to its permanently open position to connect the spaces. 56FLOOR 1FLOOR 21. Children’s Bedroom2. Parent’s Bedroom3. Private Living Space4. Shared Kitchen5. Shared Dining Space6. Storage123123456The Smiths occupy a suit on the upper floor while the Johnsons occupy a similar space on the lower level. The kitchen and dining area is shared.57The storage space, which just last summer had been a bedroom for sixteen people, has returned to a more mundane purpose. Still, its exaggerated scale and odd dimensions make it a space of wonder for the children that looms larger than life in their imagination.58As time goes by and the children grow older the families find the living situation more difficult. Eventually the Smiths move out, leaving the Johnsons behind. While the Johnson’s would usually be required to move as well, here they can downsize in place. 59FLOOR 1FLOOR 260The door at the top of the stairs is locked in its closed position again, separating the upper level rooms and allowing them to be rented by someone else.61FLOOR 1FLOOR 2The new space is occupied much like before. The residual room at the top of the stairs is recreated.  62This space once gain becomes a refuge, this time a space for the mothers to escape the noise and the chaos of the children below.63DONNA IS GETTING OLDER64Next door, Donna’s getting older. Her knees aren’t what they used to be. She’s finding the split level unit difficult to live in and would like to convert to a flat. 65FLOOR 1FLOOR 266The rolling door above her kitchen is shifted from one side all the way to the other to re-orient the space, allowing her to annex rooms to the south.132467FLOOR 1FLOOR 2In shifting the kitchen doors. She forfeits the rooms to the North, including the double heighted space.68FLOOR 1FLOOR 21. Children’s Bedroom2. Parent’s Bedroom3. Private Living Space4. Shared Kitchen5. Shared Dining Space6. Storage122 3 4 65She occupies the new space much like the old one, utilizing the identical balcony and mediation space as she did before. What was once her entrance hall becomes a long storage space and her shift has opened up a new entrance to the south. She places her bedroom at the end of a long, wide hall way, as she lives alone and is not concerned with privacy.69IV: THE ARTIST70A young artist takes over the space Donna leaves behind. She is a sculptor and is especially interested in the double heighted space as it will allow her to make large works. She doesn’t make a lot of money from her art, but at the same time she’s committed to her practice and doesn’t want the distraction of another job. As such she’s interested in as minimally a space as possible. 71FLOOR 1FLOOR 2As she takes over the space she must cut back the floor Donna had constructed to open the space up.  72In cutting back the floor she leaves Donna’s stairs as well as a small mezzanine to help her with her work.73She used the bolt tie detail to section her main room off from adjoining spaces she doesn’t own by simply securing pieces of plywood in place.74She used the bolt tie detail to section her main room off from adjoining spaces she doesn’t own by simply securing pieces of plywood in place. 75She gets to work in her new space.76FLOOR 1FLOOR 21. Work Space2. Bedroom3. Kitchenette/Dining123The Artist prioritizes her work and confines the rest of her life to a relatively small space. She encloses the balcony using the folding glass shutters to make a bedroom and sets up a small kitchenette with a microwave and a hot plate in what used to be Donna’s Son’s Bedroom.77The glass shutters are folded in to make her bedroom.7879The white tilled room is a provides a clean respite from her dirty work space. The built in shelves fit her personal possessions. 80What was once the balcony’s railing servers as a hanger for her clothes.81She finds the railings is spaced just the right distance from the glass to fit a clothes hanger.82V: THE BUILDING8384This design has been shown in several configurations to accommodate different user groups, including an older woman living alone, sixteen young travelers, two families, and an artist. The building can accommodate many more configurations,  that might appeal to any form of resident or residents. 85This building is not a perfect fit for any one life style. Just like all other housing, it has its unique short comings and obstacles for each group of users. But unlike most housing this project leaves room for creative solutions to the problems it presents. It does not cater to each individual, but it does allow each individual to cater to themselves.86BibliographyBachelard, G., & Jolas, M. 1994. The poetics of  space: the clas-sic look at how we experience intimate places. Boston: Beacon Press.Botton, A. D. 2006. The Architecture of  Happiness. New York, NY: Vintage Books.British Columbia Government EJournal Collection BC. 2015. Residential Building Statistics and Trends Report 2015Colomina, B. 1998. The Exhabitionist House, in At the end of  the century: one hundred years of  architecture. Los Angeles: Museum of  Contemporary Art.Ford, Edward R. 1997. The theory and practice of  imperma-nence: The illusion of  durability. Harvard Design Magazine: 12-8.Jackson, John Brinckerhoff. 1994. Discovering the Vernacular Landscape. Yale University Press.Johnson, Philip. February 1999. “Philip Johnson: What I’ve Learned”. Esquire (Interview). Interviewed by John H. Rich-ardson. Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. Monacelli Press, New York, 1994.Lefebvre, Henri. Critique of  Everyday Life. Verso, London 2014.Massey, Jonathan  2012. Risk and Regulation in the Financial Architecture of  American Houses, in Governing by Design: Ar-chitecture, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century (pp 21–46), eds. Daniel Abramson et al. Pittsburgh: University of  Pittsburgh PressMarty, E., & Branzi, A. 2012. Reasons For Walling A House. Berlin: Ruby Press.Nylander, Ola. 2002. Architecture Of  The Home. New York, Wiley-AcademyRybczynski, W. 1986. Home: a short history of  an idea. New York, NY: Viking Penguin.Winston, A. 2016, January 18. Architects “are never taught the right thing”, says Alejandro Aravena. 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