Theory and Project of Domestic Space

Not in spite but because of its familiarity, domestic space remains an opaque topic in architecture. Architects design domestic spaces but rarely question the given tropes of such spaces nor do they understand the larger political and economic apparatus that produces houses and determines their use and inhabitation. Moreover, domestic space not only concerns the ‘house’ as an isolated object but includes a wide spectrum of issues from political economy to policy, from class to gender roles, from construction to property relations. In many studies of domestic space, these factors are often missing or made invisible by the ideology of ‘domesticity’—an idyllic presentation of domestic space as the natural way of living. The most elusive aspect of domestic space is its history which can only be understood within the context of two phenomena: the processes of sedentarization, and the commodification of housing, the former giving rise to the home as a permanent and private structure and the latter being the root of housing’s permanent state of crisis.

By studying the design of domestic space, the laboratory intends to use architecture as evidence of a larger set of conditions and relationships simultaneously looking at history and finding historical continuities in the present. The laboratory is organized as a series of courses devoted to both the history and theories of domestic space (and related theoretical topics such as planning, theories of architecture) and as a forum of research on specific topics such as the deep history of domestication, the political economy of housing, and genealogies of specific domestic types or elements.

Currently, research at TPOD includes the following topics: the relationship between poverty and architecture and the emergence of domestic welfare, domestic space in matrilineal societies, a critical genealogy of the bedroom, a historical account of the rise and fall of the university college, a critical history of the suburban villa in post-war Italy, the architecture of monastic institutions and a study on the political economy of public housing. Besides researching domestic space, the TPOD’s teaching activities include other topics related to architectural theories and history.