The Future Generic

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Studio Instructor

Oliver Heckmann


Public mass housing somehow always lived with the stigma that the “necessary” has to be done and is the priority, that the essential criteria of affordability and efficiency might have to necessarily limit our creativity, that there are endless limitations that one should not question.

Obviously many architects tend to rather withdraw from this relevant field of design practice – and consequently it is rather the exceptional, the extra-ordinary, the one-off solutions, that are debated and valued.

But can’t we – rather than to avoid, to ignore or to reject the generic – embrace the everyday architecture, redefine it, participate and contribute to it? Can we be creatively compliant with the rules, establish a creative understanding of what are the economical and social requirements – but also help to expand the criteria of which qualities a forward-looking generic architecture should cover? And imagine a new generic that is exceptional and inspiring in itself, but that has the potential to be replicated?

It is essential to develop forward looking models to affordable urban mass housing, that could be replicated on a large scale – China alone will urbanize 300 million more people until 2030. Also, there is a significant need for innovative building types, that can respond to changing societies with shifting demographics, and react to pressing environmental issues and is also socially sustainable. With buildings emerging to be larger, higher and accommodating more residents than before designers will have to develop new concepts and strategies to shift urban social practice into the building and to foster social cohesion and sense of belonging.

The studio aims to develop designs as both radical and practical templates that help to identify alternative approaches for future tropical high rise living in dense urban environment. The participants will conduct initial research and compile relevant knowledge to answer – next to their own – such questions: Can we radically meet the rules? How can we design encounter? Can’t we deliberately mis-interpret what ‘Built-to-order’ means and think of more flexible, user-responsive approaches? How compact can we live? What exactly, when it comes to building and unit types, do we replicate and standardize? (How) can a residential high-rise be a social incubator? (And where can the Aircon condensers go….?)