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Architecture for homeless: shifting paradigm in a domestic borderscape

  • Autori: tesoriere, z
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2009
  • Tipologia: eedings
  • Parole Chiave: progetto, architettura, abitare, spazio domestico, alloggi di transito, alloggi temporanei
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This paper is about the emergence of a new perspective in providing facilities for homelessness. I present here some results of a widely study I am still performing that focuses on architecture, is based on critical design theory and combines theoretical aspects with a field-grounded approach, referring at the experiences provided by new subjects developing innovative strategies for supportive housing. This work builds up a selective survey of case-studies sharing a belief in the role of architectural research as a skill to model innovative proposals to transitional housing. I will particularly analyse the activity of Common Ground, a no-profit organisation operating in United States trough a strongly architectural research-based practise, which is today the pre-eminent provider of solutions to street homeless. Domestic sphere is a symbolic and spatial structure where the construction of the self and of the social group we belong to is deeply marked by analogies and associations between people and spaces. The visual vocabulary of current homeless facilities reflects an uncanny, uncomfortable sense of place imbued with the lack of safety, privacy and property, sending a message to residents - and to the community – which are supposed to embody this paradigm. The interplay of the material and symbolic effects produced by the markers of this domestic borderscape operates on social and spatial structure of our cosmopolitan cities. Retracing Common Ground most recent initiatives, - as the international design competition “First Step Housing” (2003), I will stress the role played by architectural research and design in reconceptualizing stereotyped elements of precarious habitat (from emergency shelters to assisted housing through flophouses), to provide a very efficient, non traditional use of accommodation buildings integrated in a whole new social strategy.