Housing + Biennial Theme, 2016-2018

Housing is essential for a functional life
Housing can be the foundation for a social community
Housing can stimulate community building
Housing extends beyond the private realm
Housing can be an essential part of infrastructure
Housing needs support of services and institutions
Housing is an important factor in community health
Housing ownership is an entry to the economy
Housing is the largest fabric of urbanity

The provision of affordable housing is a colossal challenge with an urgent and acute need for new solutions. In industrialized nations, housing is often the most expensive item in household budgets. Homelessness is one of the primary challenges faced by cities, with estimates for homeless populations reaching 600,000 in Europe and over 750,000 in the United States (UNHABITAT, 2011). Research suggests that in cities in developing countries, 881 million people live in slums, and by 2025, that number is likely to increase by 1.6 billion. In South Asia, housing deficits amount to 38 million dwellings. Due to a lack of affordable and well-located housing alternatives, the informal sector provides between 60 and 90 percent of housing in Zambia, Lima, Caracas and Ghana (UNHABITAT World Cities Report, 2016). With growing concerns of rapid rural to urban migration, natural disasters, and unprecedented rates of urbanization, these trends are likely to continue. The challenges to housing need to be addressed in interdisciplinary and multi-scalar ways; the traditional role of housing purely as shelter needs to be confronted.

Attempts at comprehensive affordable housing solutions have escaped the efforts of governments, private enterprises, and non-governmental organizations alike. Yet there are examples of progress made in the fields of social science, policy, and humanities. Design, however, is typically not an approach that comes to mind when one refers to housing affordability, whether at the scale of the house, neighborhood, or city. There is a dearth of affordable housing design that is inspiring, sustainable, inclusive, or substantial enough to satisfy the full spectrum of human rights and aspirations at a meaningful scale.

With growing concerns of rapid rural to urban migration, natural disasters, and unprecedented rates of urbanization, the MIT Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) seeks to investigate the potential of multi-scalar design in addressing some of these challenges. The LCAU is exploring these innovations and more, culminating in an international exhibition and conference in May 2018.

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Exhibition and Conference: Adèle Naudé Santos

Exhibition Curator: Gabriel Kozlowski
Conference Curator: Laura Wainer
Art Director: Paul Montie
Graphic Identity: Siena Scarff Design
Map Production: Waishan Qiu
Model Fabrication: Joey Jacobsen
Table Fabrication:  Airport Railings Co. Ltd. 
Publication Production: Sneha Mandhan
Short Films by: Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald.
Main Exhibition Team: Justin Lim, Juncheng Yang and Alexander Wiegering
Exhibition Assistants: Diana Ang, Giovanni Bellotti, Andrew Brose, Sarah Brown, Sea Hoon Kim, Kelly Main, and Manuela Uribe.
Faculty collaborators: Anton Garcia-Abril, Marie Law Adams, Azra Aksamija, Angelo Bucci, Lorena Bello Gomez, Mark Goulthorpe, Sheila Kennedy, Debora Mesa Molina, Brent D. Ryan, Larry Sass, Rafi Segal, and James L. Wescoat Jr.

MIT student workshop participants: Diana Ang, Andrea Baena, Natalie Bellefleur, Giovanni Bellotti, Xhulio Binjaku, Kyle Branchesi, Andrew Brose, Sarah Brown, Wenxin Cai, Wan Chantavilasvong, Bumsuk Cho, Eric Van Dreason, Jaya Eyzaguirre, Paloma Gonzalez, Daniel Heriberto, Monica Hutton, Max Jarosz, Zain Karsan, Kadeem Khan, Alexander Kobald, Jacob Kohn, Justin Lim, Qianhui Liang, Yi Liu, Mary Lynch-Lloyd, Kelly Main, Anne Marie Graziano, Daniel Marshall, Joshua Morrison, Alina Nazmeeva, Rushil Palavajjhala, Sean Phillips, Karthikeyan Kuppu Sundara Raman, Helena Rong, Ellen Shakespear, Maya Shopova, Taeseop Shin, Ranu Singh, Angelos Siampakoulis, Nneka Sobers, Danniely Staback, Tyler Swingle, Yair Titelboim, Sera Tolgay, Waishan Qiu, Manuela Uribe, Ayna Verella, Ching Ying Ngan, Alexander Wiegering, Yue Wu, Daya Zhang.


Apr 06, 2018

Paavo Monkkonen (Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA) analyzes global challenges to urban housing policy: that it is difficult to mass produce housing well; that community-based upgrading programs often fail to benefit the worst off; and that ultimately, housing policy is a political problem that often fails to consider the diversity of populations at the expense of the least powerful.

housing policy, Global South
Apr 06, 2018

A government task force is considering a wide range of options for making better use of available land. Architects and developers have also put forward some novel proposals. While some ideas use traditional expertise, other may reshape the future of housing in the city.

Hong Kong, design innovation, land, Density
Apr 06, 2018

Red Hook Brooklyn got hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Alexandros Washburn, professor, resident and former chief urban designer of New York City was looking for ways to protect his community from the next flood when he discovered an unfinished underwater island in the New York harbor that could hold the key to Brooklyn's resilient future.

Resilient infrastruture, affordable housing, NYC
Mar 02, 2018

“Design professionals need to read the existing spatial language and replicate it or amplify it. There is a visible spatial language to a settlement. You can’t disregard the unspoken.” Andy Bolnick

slum upgrading, land, shelter, environmental risk, community, Africa
Mar 02, 2018

A new coalition of housing groups and non-profits claim that the topic is the “largest, least discussed” challenge in the U.S.

housing, real estate markets, politics, advocacy
Fall 2016