THE ARCHITECT AND SELF-BUILD HOUSING ADAM ROBERTS | SPECIAL STUDY | MAY 2011 SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE With special thanks to my tutor, Doina Petrescu, for your expert help, to Mr and Mrs Baggley of Paxton Court and Ian White of Walter’s Way for welcoming me into your fascinating houses, and finally to my parents, for all your support.
Introduction to self-build The social housing problem Why self-build? Where does the architect fit into the equation?
Roles of the architect in self-build
Facilitator/Fixer Technical assistance Critic Interface Developer Mediator Activator
14 15 16 18 21 22
Segal Method Housing, Lewisham, London, UK Netherspring Co-operative, Gleadless, Sheffield, UK Teddy Cruz – Manufactured Sites, San Ysidro, Tijuana, Mexico Elemental – Quinta Monroy, Iquique, Chile Balestra/Göransson – Incremental Housing, Pune, India
25 32 38 44 48
Transcript of interview with Mr and Mrs Baggley of Paxton Court Transcript of interview with Ian White of Walters Way Bibliography Image Sources & Credits
58 60 63 65
3 4 6 8
1. “Single-handed with spade in hand All alone he digs the land Down the trenches and knee high deep Day and night he loses sleep To dig our home for us to live All his spare time he must give Until one day he’s out of sight Everyone stands back in fright Where is this lad with so much pluck Then cautiously we all look Down the hole so big and grand There stands Alan spade in hand EE” Lad we’d given you up for lost We’ve built our houses at low cost Our British Worker had turned out to be an ace All this time he’d been digging in the wrong place” The Lonliness of a Self-Builder written on the back of the photo below by a spirited member of the netherspring self-build co-operative ~1983 figure 1.1
INTRODUCTION TO SELF-BUILD Considering one third of the world’s dwellings are constructed by their future occupants, self-build receives very little attention within the architectural profession.1 Whether part of shanty-towns or eco-villages, these dwellings are pervasively being designed and built with or without the help of government bodies or professional advice and irrespective of the economic and social situation of the self-builders. Shelter is a necessity. Those for whom it is not provided have no choice but to provide for themselves, for others it is simply a means of regaining control of one’s lifestyle and environment. The term ‘self-build’ is a bit of a misnomer as more often than not, dwellings are constructed not by an individual but by complex networks of people, whether family, friends, neighbours, co-operatives or with the aid of specialist organisations. People with different skillsets often trade specialties and share labour. Some builds are even undertaken with the principal aim of economic empowerment.2 Architects are only involved in a handfull of the world’s self-builds, but where they have been we have seen extraordinary results. But if self-build is just as the term suggests, the sole provision of shelter by the user for the user, why should an a third party be involved, and how exactly does the architect engage with user without debasing the very nature of autonomous production? This question is the focus of the study and will be explored through the discussion of roles that the architect can take in a self-build, initially in terms of theory and then in terms of five case studies.There is wide variation across these case studies, in terms of time, scale, context, location and implementation but they are all prototypes that either were or still are intended to be carried forward into larger scale production.
1. Turner, J F C and Fichter R (1972); Freedom To Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process, New York, Macmillan, pp.vii 2. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.22
THE SOCIAL-HOUSING PROBLEM
figure 1.2 - Park Hill, Sheffield
In developed countries, self-build is often a consequence of social-housing failing to respond to the needs of the individuals that must inhabit the numerous projects. In the 20th century, widespread urban destruction in the aftermath of World Wars I and II resulted in severe housing shortages, which were left for the state to resolve. Legislation in the form of the 1930 Housing Act in the UK and the Nation Housing Act of 1934 in the USA was implemented but it wasn’t until 1961 that the government moved from the sole provision of housing to attempts to create social cohesion, which in the majority of schemes such as Park Hill, continued to fail. People become statistics, as that is unfortunately the easiest way in which the responsible governing bodies on limited budgets can deal with the vast number of people who require housing. Design is often based on the preconceptions of what the architect perceives the user wants. The architect Giancarlo De Carlo summarised this in the Italian anarchist monthly, Volontà:
3. Ward, C (1984), Housing: An Anarchist Approach, London, Freedom Press, pp.9
“The state is the principle of authority -- an abstraction masquerading as something real, and can have no real contact with the concrete reality -- man himself -- whom it treats and manipulates as though he were just an abstraction. The home is an organism in a direct relationship to man. It is his external environment, his affirmation in space. Thus the home cannot have any relationship to the state, which recognises the man not as an individual but as a number.”3
4. Turner, J F C and Fichter R (1972); Freedom To Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process, New York, Macmillan, pp.vii
Housing viewed as a physical product can be judged only by physical criteria. Conventional ‘housing standards’ such as occupant-area ratios, air circulation, plumbing facilities, and so forth, are all too often calculated on a hypothetical or an empirical basis in an unrelated situation. Turner advocates that, “Such measures of value are based on false premises. [...] Genuine housing value lies in the ability of dwellers to create and maintain environments which serve both their material and their psychological needs.”4
5. Ward, C (1984), Housing: An Anarchist Approach,
Colin Ward, a renowned urbanist and architect who was also deeply involved in the anarchist movement, long promoted the concept of dweller control. Giving the user the power to control the decisions relating to the design of their environment can be enormously beneficial to individual and social wellbeing, whilst denying the user the right to involvement can be detrimental to personal fulfilment.5 Giving the user control through participation in public-sector housing may cost more in the short term, but in the long 4
6. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.19
term, by creating an environment in which people can be satisfied in their day to day lives, they will be willing to stay put for longer which has a less impact on the economy than having to demolish or retrofit housing after 20 or 30 years, as has been the case with many quickly erected, product driven, modernist, post-war housing schemes such as Kelvin in Sheffield and Pruitt-Igoe in San Louis, Missouri among many others around the world. Historically, the majority of local authorities have not looked beyond the short term, and coupled with political pressure to be as ostensibly efficient as possible, they usually opted out of participatory design processes. Ward, throughout his career, therefore advocated self-build as a solution to this problem and a shortcut to achieving housing fulfilment by bypassing local authorities altogether. If the state cannot respond to the needs of the individual, then the individual should liberate himself by becoming the designer. The result is a dwelling which is an â€œexpression of the individual himself, and will be the highest standard to which he can aspire.â€?6
figures 1.3 & 1.4 - Pruitt Igoe, San Louis, Missouri, entirely demolished within 20 years of completion
WHY SELF-BUILD? 7. Turner, J F C and Fichter R (1972); Freedom To Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process, New York, Macmillan, pp.11 8. Ibid. pp.10 9. Wheat, S (Feb.2001), A Home Of One’s Own, Geographical, Circle Publishing Ltd, http://findarticles.com/p/ articles/mi_hb3120/is_2_73/ai_n28822486, online journal 10. Ballesteros, M (2008), Verb Crisis, Barcelona, Actar, pp.158 11. Wheat, S (Feb.2001), A Home Of One’s Own, Geographical, Circle Publishing Ltd, online journal
12. Turner, J F C and Fichter R (1972); Freedom To Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process, New York, Macmillan, pp.19 13. Ibid. pp.20 14. Wheat, S (Feb.2001), A Home Of One’s Own, Geographical, Circle Publishing Ltd, online journal 15. O’Connor, R (Nov.2009), http://business.timesonline. co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/construction_and_ property/article6922311.ece, last accessed 28/2/2011, News Article 16. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own
“The owner builder [...] is an expert--the expert--in determining his mix of needs, resources, and priorities. He can do what no one can do for him: he can call on his time, energy, and talent and a network of friends and contacts to create for himself a living environment which is both feasible and desirable.”7 The quality of self-build is often as high as contractor-built housing, because although the self-builder is inexperienced, they often compensate with due care and attention. In developed countries self-builds often resemble conventional houses as the majority of self-builders prefer to stand by traditional construction methods as they aspire to own a salable dwelling to eventually ascend the property ladder. In the time-money-quality triangle, if quality remains constant and cost decreases it is time that must augment. One study in the US shows that labour hours per unit area only increased 25% with respect to contractor-built housing.8 A major saving occurs in administration and management, as there is less bureaucracy involved. This is unfortunately becoming less and less true nowadays due to ever increasing layers of legislation and administration. Finding land, either privately, or through a housing association or local council, can be the hardest part of the process and attaining planning permission for anything that doesn’t follow conventional building techniques is near impossible as planning departments are reluctant to do the extra work required to establish whether an experimental proposal is feasible.9 Obtaining the necessary funds is another hurdle. Although the government supports selfbuild, it hasn’t prioritised it or allocated funds, which is somewhat short-sighted given the personal, community and environmental benefits associated with previous schemes. In the UK, for the unemployed or those on low income, the best option is to get the housing association on your side.They can provide land and construction materials and sometimes pay for sub-contractors for the more specialist or challenging aspects of the build. Charities such as Habitat for Humanity also have reserves for those in greatest need. Teddy Cruz asserts, “The ultimate incentive for participation and involvement is the possibility of ownership, a concept absent from “social housing” schemes in the US.”10 In the UK, however, self-builders are sometimes allowed to buy or obtain a mortgage on their properties following completion, or hold a contract for shared ownership -- established according to the labour input often referred to as `sweat equity’, or otherwise through an agreed reduced rent.11
Self-building can be as much about building communities as about building houses, something that will later become evident from the case studies. Self-builders often act as a “nodal point in an informal network of supply and information”12 Skills are shared and traded and by the end of the build the self-builder will have obtained a comprehensive education in housing as he becomes ever more deeply integrated into the network.13 “For many self-builders, having the opportunity to live in an eco-friendly house is also a major consideration. ‘Normal developers aren’t doing low-energy designs in any significant way, but house owners are increasingly interested in it,’ says John Broome of Architype.”14 figure 1.5 - Hanham Hall, Barrat Eco-Village
figure 1.6 - The Plotlands
This is less true nowadays as even the largest, most commercially minded developers are experimenting with environmental technology to satisfy demand, safeguard their hold on the future market, and improve public relations. Barratt homes for example built a 200-house eco-village at Hanham Hall, with the hope of creating an archetype for future new-build properties, which must all be carbon zero by 2016. Facilities include allotments and greenhouses, a farm shop selling locally sourced groceries and an on-site biomass boiler.15 This is only a recent development. In the 1970s and early ‘80s environmental building was only undertaken by those with a particular interest in sustainability, often with the resources to carry out a new build on their own terms.16 The movement lost momentum in the following decades until the 21st Century where diminishing natural resources are now necessitating a sustainable approach to building.
“Two traditions, in particular, can be discerned – the one, ‘pastoralism’ with its call back to an image of lost rural bliss and to an affinity with Nature, the other, ‘agrarianism’, with its ideal of peasant proprietorship and reclaiming land which had been wrongly appropriated in times past. Though diverse in its origin, the two traditions can be seen to coalesce in twentieth-century plotlands.” Ward, C (1984), Arcadia For All, Oxford, Alexandrine Press, pp.13
Another perspective on self-build is that it is an expression of freedom and identity. This is best characterised by the early 20th Century Plotlands, a ‘guerrilla building’ movement that allowed many to migrate from the polluted and increasingly overpopulated cities of the industrial revolution to the countryside, transforming redundant Victorian railway carriages and timber sheds into homes or holiday retreats using any materials they could find. These chaotically organised clusters of rural retreats were essentially countryside squats. As a consequence they lacked the infrastructure and amenities of a wholesome community such as schools and shops, however, the spirit of the plotlanders can be readily identified in the self-build movement that was to follow the social-housing crisis.
WHERE DOES THE ARCHITECT FIT IN TO THE EQUATION? 17. Ward, C (1984), Housing: An Anarchist Approach, London, Freedom Press, pp.71 18. Ibid. pp.68 19. Ibid. pp.71 20. Ibid. pp.38 21. Ibid. pp.40
In the early 1970s the National Building Association [NBA], published a self-build manual due to increasing interest and uptake of self-build projects in the UK. Due to the official capacity of the NBA, the guide had to be thorough and strongly recommended using an architect, engineer, qualified accountant, solicitor and even a quantity surveyor, which some would argue is far from the most efficient model for delivering a self-build. Despite the recommendation of an architect, for some it was a confusing period in which they had to re-evaluate traditional architect-client relationships.17 One architect, Fello Atkinson, said in a radio interview: “It is a sign of the fearful complication of our times that building one’s own house should seem like a good idea... The idea is certainly not new but it is only unusual in modern, highly industrialised communities where each of us, except possibly farmers and sailors, tend to specialise in ever-narrowing fields to the exclusion and even ignorance of all others.”18 Architects at the time agreed that a full service to self-build groups at rates recommended by the RIBA fee scale seemed grossly uneconomic from the architects’ perspective and grossly excessive from the client’s. The NBA, however, argued that an architect “can be extremely helpful in making the best of a site and ensuring compliance with official building standards and technical requirements”19
figure 1.7 - Le Corbusier’s housing in Pessac. The inhabitants have ‘attacked’ the house, exercising a kind of ‘bricolage’, filling the spaces between pilotis, replacing ‘fenêtres en longeur’ with conventional narrow windows and adding pitched roofs and decoration. In doing so they completely underminded the architects modernist principles of ‘primary aesthetic’, but took ownership of the building in order to express their own values.
Architects were also beginning to re-evaluate their role in the design of mass socialhousing. Giancarlo De Carlo, having completed a housing project in Sesto San Giovanni, Italy, sat down in a café opposite during the first day of occupation and watched the occupants ‘violently attack’ the building, appropriating it as they wished. Washing was hung from the south-facing, secluded balconies which lay otherwise deserted, and people congregated on the north-facing access decks, where chairs were hung out and children played. The inhabitants valued above all community and the ability to interact with one another so the architect’s intended use was ignored and amended. De Carlo realised his mistake and acknowledged there was a lesson to be learnt; that architecture should become a platform for such attacks in order generate a healthy environment.20 Ward summarised, “The architect’s task is both ubiquitous and humble; he has to use his skill to transform the environment in order that people may attack it to make it theirs.”21 8
22. Ibid. pp.40
Even earlier than Ward, Walter Gropius understood, “[the architect] has to find common language of architecture and its individual variations, a humanised standard, fitting the whole of our community, but simultaneously satisfying also, but its modifications, the different desires of individuals...”22 This ‘common language’, which Gropius mentions, though he may not have intended it as a platform for self-build, was later manifested in the London borough of Lewisham through the architecture of the Austrian architect, Walter Segal. Segal conceived a selfbuild method that eliminated wet-trades therefore removing the need for skilled labourers in the construction process, allowing the novice builder to construct their own house in entirety, with the occasional help of other unskilled labourers, for a relatively modest sum of money.The method was based on a modular timber-framed system that was inherently flexible in nature, facilitating modification to the design both pre and post completion.This system allowed each house to be designed and tailored to the needs of each family, whilst employing an architectural language in which all involved could easily become fluent.
23. Ibid. pp.72
24. Ibid. pp.71
Ward saw that a new profession was emerging, that of a facilitator, or fixer, for self build associations, giving invaluable help and encouragement to the layman. In contrast to the NBA’s manual, which gives no advice on ‘cutting corners’ by appropriating and reusing second hand materials or of other approaches like the Segal method.23 Such approaches, however exciting and successful the result, made loan and mortgage applications more difficult. “A great gulf exists between the existing theory and practice of self-build, and the imaginative architect’s idea of what it could be, not to mention all those bright ideas floating around in the schools of architecture and in those innumerable ‘underground’ manuals on homes, houses and shelter. The gap is there, because without any specific intention to do so, an absolute veto on innovation and experiment has been imposed by the sources of land, finance and permission to build: in other words by public authorities and institutional lenders.”24 This seems to be the biggest contributing factor to the failure of self-build to take-off 9
25. Kapp, S, Baltazar, A P, Morado, D (2008), Architecture as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alternative Practices, Field Journal (www.field-journal.org), vol.2 (1), pp.20
in the UK after the success of the ‘70s and ‘80s with projects such as Lewisham’s Segal Method housing, which were the only streets in London to be named in honour of the architect who designed them. Self-build gathered pace in provincial cities such as Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol and Sheffield in the 1990s with co-operatives using the Segal method among others, but since, self-build, or documentation of it least, has gradually petered out. Nonetheless, in developing countries, self-build has become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon. Rural to urban migration is a major contributing factor, which occurs as a result of economic developments, conflicts, natural disasters, population increases, domestic policy and rural poverty. As population density increases, property prices are forced up due to increased demand leaving housing out of reach of the poor. In the cities of developing nations some have little choice but to erect temporary accommodation and so the formation of slums ensues. In many of these cities, Lagos, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, for example, these slums have formed so quickly that the government doesn’t acknowledge their presence in time to lay proper infrastructure, resulting in a lack of sewers, roads and even fresh water.
figures 1.8 & 1.9 - Dharavi, Mumbai
“In favelas people usually tackle only the immediate need of the dwelling unit, cutting out sanitation pipes just outside the house, or building in places with no vehicle access. Communities grow too fast to allow spontaneous negotiation and development of infrastructure. The usual institutional response to this situation is something between the radical extermination of the whole settlement or their urbanisation by means of an abstract plan. In all cases this is carried out from the top-down, being heteronomous, formal and normative.”25 These slum cities cannot always be defined only by what they lack as places such as Dharavi in Mumbai are extremely successful in a social and economic sense. The dilemma is how architects can intervene in the creation of self-built temporary settlements in a way which valorises self-build skills, ensuring the integration of basic amenities but without disturbing the social cohesion achieved via autonomy. MOM (Morar de Outras Maneiras), outline some interesting methods in their paper, 10
“Architecture as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alternative Practices”, defining architecture as a process rather than a product. They view the self-build of a dwelling not as separate stages of design, construction and inhabitation but as an entity in which the three can take place simultaneously each influencing one another as part the process, resulting in a richer architecture.
26. Ibid. pp.9
27. Ibid. pp.10
“[Architecture is] the transformation of space by human work. The term stands for a process, not a product; it neither depends on size, scale or function, nor on the presence of a design or previous plan; and it emphatically includes everyday spaces, such as dwellings or unpretentious public facilities, which are the focus of our research to date.”26 MOM have explored the idea of event-based architecture in communities in South America. They intend this event-based architecture to and open process in the sense that it is available to adapt to the needs of the individual constantly self-amending and improving as it occurs.They have explored three ways in which the architect can involve himself in autonomous production, each of which will be explored in more detail in chapter two. They advocate a ‘constant and incisive’ exercise of critique, the production of systems or ‘interfaces’ for helping all self-builders to realise their own critical actions on space and thus any mediation required between the self-builders and said interfaces. These practices are not intended to replace those that already exist but to sit alongside them as alternative choice for architects. MOM state that they are attempts to “overcome the production of space as ‘reproduction of the social relations of production.’ ”27 In other words, to challenge and remodel the conventional relationships of the skilled and the unskilled rather than the physical product of architecture.
citizen control delegated power partnership placation
ROLES OF THE ARCHITECT IN SELF-BUILD Sherry Arnstein’s ‘Ladder of Participation’1 has long been a benchmark for the level of citizen participation in architecture. Logically, self-build would fall at the top of the ladder, but some of the following roles require the user to pass a degree of control to the architect, or, if the user is not the initiator as is sometimes the case, the architect must engage the user at some level if the process is to legitimately be one of self-build. The outcomes of these different roles and approaches will be discussed in terms of the case studies in chapter three. Secondly, if self-build is a discipline that relies successfully upon informal relationships between an efficient and extensive network of people. Could formalising these relationships through the intervention of an architect be detrimental to the very nature of self-build as an autonomous means to production?
consultation informing therapy manipulation
figure 2.1 – Arnstein’s ladder of participation
1. Arnstein, Sherry R.(1969) ‘A Ladder Of Citizen Participation’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216 — 224
MACRO | EV
| A C T I VA
| D I ATO R
IC | CRIT
D I ATO R
O N | AC
L I TATO R
A ER | F
T E R F AC E
D I ATO R
CHN I C AL
S I S TA N C E
S I S TA N C E
IT I C | CR
D I ATO R
|I NT E E R F AC
T I V AT I O
|C RITIC |
L I TATO R
|F I X E R | FA
AT I O N |
PHYSICAL ROLES SOCIO-POLITICAL ROLES 13
FACILITATOR/FIXER “Everybody at one time or another was waiting on seomeone else in a great circle: self-builders, architect, quantity surveyor, Borough Architect, DoE officials, Borough Engineer and Surveyor, GLC Fire Precention, District Surveyor, Fire Brigade, Borough Valuer, Borough Solicitor, Borough Treasurer, Council Committee... This was a pretty wretched period for everybody and it went of for a long time – long enough for Brian’s Beard to turn grey...” Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.60
Lewisham’s Segal Method housing was facilitated by Brian Richardson, borough architect’s assistant.. 2. Ward, C (1984), Housing: An Anarchist Approach, City, Revisionist Press, pp.72
The architect helps the user navigate through the many layers of bureaucracy in order to achieve their self-build aspirations. This help is given at a micro level, i.e. at the scale of a single dwelling or a small estate. This role often only exists in developed countries that have strict planning controls, such as the UK. It often takes previous experience to know how to negotiate the bureaucratic system. In well established cities such as London, these controls are even stricter, often differ borough to borough and are controlled by multiple departments that have little interest in working together to hurry a design through, particularly if such a scheme is pioneering in nature. These obstacles might include the Department of Estates, engineers, surveyors, fire prevention, valuation, solicitors, as well as treasurers and council committees when it comes to social housing, and the list goes on. The architect is suitable for this role has he or she has an intimate knowledge of the design and the ability to liaise with both client and official bodies. Ward states that the architects entry into this field was “justified by the invaluable help and encouragement [it has] given to others, but it does point to one of the most worrying things about our tangle of legislative restrictions, the built in preference of the authorities for doing deals with large scale developers while holding at bay a small and insignificant group who simply want to house themselves.”2 In developing countries planning laws are often more relaxed, particularly in areas of high rural to urban migration where the sheer volume of immigrants makes planning policy impossible to implement. Administrative processes are often bypassed altogether or tackled retrospectively, thus a facilitator is not required.
figure 2.2 - A section of house type 3 by Cederic Green for the Netherspring self-build co-operative
Again at the micro level, this is a more passive role that often occurs in developed countries with wealthier, mortgage worthy clients. The client has a strong design vision and employs the architect to turn this into an achievable reality. Often this vision leans in the direction of sustainability and environmental design. There is a sliding scale of participation from the delegation of power, where the client might even have attempted plans and sections, to a partnership whereby the client may hand the architect a comprehensive brief and exercise criticism of the architectâ€™s proposal.The architect must work with the clientâ€™s vision to turn the building in to something that is an achievable reality, suggesting materiality, structural systems and detailing. An architect is arguably overqualified for simply drawing up plans without offering any input; a job that can often be delegated to somebody with good draughtsmanship skills. The architect is acting as a technical consultant, leaving spatial arrangements and qualities in the clientâ€™s domain.
figure 2.3 - Walter Segal giving technical assis-
CRITIC [EVENT-BASED ARCHITECTURE] 3. Kapp, S, Baltazar, A P, Morado, D (2008), Architecture as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alternative Practices, Field Journal (www.field-journal.org), vol.2 (1), pp.14 4. Ibid. pp.13
figures 2.4 & 2.5 - Examples from Patrick Bouchinans projects of how a site might be activatied
The average layman would find self-designing and self-building on a given site, with little or no experience and no sounding board for their ideas, a daunting task. Whilst the notion of complete creative control for the user is quite exciting, it is beneficial to establish systems to challenge or constrain ideas. This can manifest as a set of physical rules in the form of an interface such as the Segal Method, or it could be some kind of temporal, event-based form of collaboration or critique. Lefebvre argued that the capitalist means of production of space, which has established itself so firmly in our society, is what has created the very notion of ‘the user’. As already discussed, the architects of mass, post-war housing schemes generally perceived the needs of the user as universal.The ‘user’ was often a projection of their ill-founded, classbased preconceptions that failed to take into account the individual needs of residents. In light of the failures of many of these schemes, the current system has given way to empiricism in which specific communities are taken into account and then a conception of ‘user’ is generated from research based analysis. Any user participation is often at the lower end of Arnstein’s Participatory Ladder. MOM argue, “as long as we work with the idea of having users, we are still operating within the same logic.”3 “Even if participation is part of public policy, the whole process of the production of space turns out to be bureaucratic, far from the understanding of most people, and dominated by so-called ‘technical’ decisions.”4 To overcome this, new participatory methods must be established which aim to engage the user at a level they can relate to. One such medium is event-based architecture, in which architecture is not seen as a product but a process, with client and architect designing in parallel. This has long been practiced by Patrick Bouchain, a French architect who experiments with the use of theatre and performance in projects, though these projects are more often in the realm of communal facilities than housing. He begins by establishing networks of local people including residents, government officials and community-based organisations, before ‘activating the site’ in advance of any permanent manifestation.This is achieved through the erection of a temporary multifunctional communal facility that serves as a restaurant, site office and consultation area. The aim is to engage passers by through performance, film or discourse in order to generate an excitement about the project in the hope of transcending ‘normal’ levels of participation by galvanizing local people into action. By 16
5. Patrick Bouchain http://www.spatialagency.net/database/why/ecological/ bouchain Accessed 29/04/11
mediating architecture through channels with which people can readily identify, a more equable relationship is established and a platform for collaboration is sprung. The architect and user have interchangeable roles and the fundamental activities of designing, building and using, which are so often separated into a linear process, can be carried out simultaneously.5
6. Kapp, S, Baltazar, A P, Morado, D (2008), Architecture as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alternative Practices, Field Journal (www.field-journal.org), vol.2 (1) pp.14
“Instead of basing design on a prescription of events, on foresight, on previous experience, or on careful observation, our question is how to provide instruments or interfaces that allow people to communicate their desires: to simultaneously design, build and use their spaces. Such instruments would be like alphabets and words, with maybe some glimpses of grammatical rules, but surely no texts. Architecture would be part of the action, not its background and neither its well-defined outline.”6
7. Segal, W (1983) Walter Segal: Learning From The Self-Builders PAV 8301 London, Pidgeon Audio Visual (cassette with slides)
Criticism might be seen as a negative input to a self-build but it is in fact the opposite. It initially allows complete creative freedom for the self-builder as the architect is not directly engaged in design, but is on hand to question or criticise in order to establish a form of discourse to ultimately improve the product. It is an interesting approach in that reverses a fundamental part of the traditional architect-client relationship. Normally, the architect does the drawings and the client acts as critic. This role reversal may not seem natural to either party and is rarely implemented in its raw form, but often combined with some kind of design interface; a set of more physical rules defined by the architect as will be discussed in the next section. It is also notable that the client might be an expert in defining his or her needs but many intrinsically ‘architectural’ qualities are often absent due to lack of specialised knowledge. Segal noticed this during the first phase Lewisham project; “none of these people talked or said anything about the about the character of the building, about proportions, about façades, about all the things that are the token trade of the architect.The more I am becoming aware of this the more I think that there is a gulf that separates them from us and we have to learn to see where the essential priorities in this field of housing lie. We have to learn how to enable people to figure things out for themselves and we shall have to learn more, not only in the matter of explaining simple techniques but in the handling and dealing with people.”7 It seems that Segal hoped to bridge a gap that many architects perceive as the defining characteristic of their profession. 17
INTERFACE DEVELOPER A most exciting form of architect engagement is conception of interfaces, around which the user can design. MOMâ€™s definition of an interface is looser than the physical variety that will be discussed here, but they raise an interesting point about the possibilities of such a tool,
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figure 2.6 - MOM - â€˜interface of spatialityâ€™
â€œMediation [â€Ś] engenders a kind of dependency, since it assumes the presence of the architect in the event. A further step to increase autonomy would be the production of interfaces that could enable all actors involved to realise their own critical actions on space. Such interfaces can be concrete or abstract, already existing or invented, informational or operational, physical or digital, or any hybrid combination of these possibilities. But they are to be used without the presence of the designer.â€?8
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figure 2.7 - Segal Method interface type one
-)&/.#)(-.#-/(+/-.#)(&.".-*."/-,"#../,#-,/#&.) -)#&*,.#-", ),,"#../,-")/&#-/----)#)
)()'##--/(().--)&/.#)(.)#''#.*,)&'-1"#", &13-7(3."0,3-')(.2.."./--."' (#&&/-.,.#02'*&) ")1*,)&'-)&0#(!1),%-#-."#(.,0(.#)( ) .",4#&#((.#)(&"&." 8. Kapp, S, Baltazar, A P,)/(.#)(/(-#((.#0,4#&#( Morado, D (2008), Architecture
as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alternative Practices, Field Journal (www.field-journal.org), vol.2 (1), ,"#../,-,#.#&2,#- MOM pp.23
With regard to physical interfaces, there are nominally two types, but both have commonality in material economy, flexibility, low technology and ease of use. The first type, predominant in developed countries and exemplified by the Segal Method, is designed primarily for the use of off-the-shelf prefabricated materials. The system aims to incorporate as many of these components as possible in their standard sizes, to minimise waste and the need for cutting or sawing. It also works to establish a kind of modular rhythm in the construction process, so once the self-builder has completed one section, the rest should follow rapidly and without complication. The second type is prevalent in less developed countries where self-builders are recycling waste materials as building components as their economic situation leaves no other option. The bricolage nature of such informal settlements spawns a multiplicity of structural and material systems. Whilst the â€˜patchwork cityâ€™ engendered by such an approach can have social, spatial and material complexities that transcend those of developer housing, structural instability and poor weatherproofing are rife due to lack of official regulations and the incompatibility of different reclaimed materials. Basic infrastructure such as sewers, water supply and electricity supply are often entirely omitted or brought in retrospectively, which sooner or later precipitates an environment hazardous to the health of the inhabitants. Some self-builders in these situations have the creative skills to fabricate a successful dwelling, and the sophisticated social networks that exist in such places facilitate the transfer of such skills and knowledge from builder to builder, but the 18
lack of resources, tools, time and the endless variety of materials used often results in a sprawling and precarious settlement. The architect’s role in such a situation is to design a component, framework or system that allows the interconnection of different reclaimed material around a basic infrastructure. The timeframe for implementation is small, as immigrants don’t have the luxury to wait around – they will work to settle and attain shelter immediately. An interface is not something that can easily be ‘designed-in’ to an informal settlement retrospectively, but must be made available to new settlers at the beginning, and should be either affordable or subsidised.
figure 2.8 - ETC - Manufactured Sites interface type two
9. Ibid. pp.25
Both types of interface are a means of aiding innovation and self-design by devising a system to restrain possibility. Vilém Flusser argues that “objects of use are always designed with the purpose of removing an obstacle, of turning something that was impossible into the possible. Paradoxically, in order to remove obstacles we design objects which are themselves obstacles. Therefore, and considering that an object of use is also a mediation between the designer and other people, designing means not only opening up communication and action but also restraining possibilities. The question then is how to make objects that create the least obstruction for those following us; or ultimately, to design objects that are not objective.”9 In formalising some kind of system, creativity can be allowed to flourish, but within a set of rules or constraints. An interface forces a certain rigour and compatibility to embed itself in the dwelling, and potentially allows physical connections with adjacent dwellings through standardisation of dimensions and connections to create a larger structural framework. This framework should permit all the positive characteristics of a slum: individuality, hierarchy and spatial complexity, without lacking infrastructure, sanitation or structural integrity.
MEDIATOR 10. Cruz, T (2008) Border translations: urbanism beyond the property line, Praxis, p. 92-99, Issue no.10, 2008
“As architects we can be responsible for imagining counter-spatial procedures – political and economic structures that produce new modes of interaction.”10 Teddy Cruz asserts that the architect should go beyond their traditional role and politically engage with human agendas. Why should design solely be a physical manifestation if the problem is rooted deeper than the immediate physical environment? “Architectural practice needs to engage in the reorganisation of urban development systems, challenging the political and economic frameworks that benefit homogeneous, large scale, private, mega-block development.”10 He discredits practitioners who flock off to economic powers such as Dubai, instead believing that architecture is about the unearthing of socio-political, territorial and economic injustices that surround us. Mediation is a tool the politically minded architect can use to rebalance such injustices, however, the individual voice is small and often it takes the engagement of an NGO to gather the necessary momentum to take on governmental bodies. NGOs can empower the poor through the establishment of a common voice.Tactics such as these have been used in extensively in slums such as Dharavi, Mumbai to prevent the sort of mass slum clearances that have happened in China and other non-democratic states in the 20th Century. An NGO called SPARC in Mumbai has helped mediate between the people and government bodies by primarily sharing the interests of the people, whilst being fluent in the language of official bodies to help the people achieve what they cannot achieve alone. They achieve this without unbalancing a major strength of slum’s inhabitants, their complex autonomous systems and organisational networks.
11. Saxena, A (2009) Spatial appropriation as a means to ‘citizenship’, MArch dissertation, University of Sheffield.
“We [SPARC] don’t see the NGO as the driver of the process. We see the communitybased organisations as the main drivers of change. We see the NGO as a support, as a back-up, as an agency to do things that people’s organisations are not capable of doing.”11 Mediation is in some respects similar to the role of facilitator but engagement is at a macro level.The architect is straying far from the physical realm and engaging with local politicians, business and communities. The modern architectural education places us in a very good position to analyse such factors and propose a solution, whether spatial or strategic. 20
Figure 2.9 Practice Ethos of Estudio Teddy Cruz This diagram captures the essence of the role of mediation in architecture. The architect is constantly liasing with conflicting parties and using skills of arbitration, reconciliation, and intercession; ofsetting the economic, spatial and organisational needs of each party against one another, ultimately exposing conflict as an â€˜operational toolâ€™, and a means to change.
figure 2.10 â€“ incremental housing in India
By considering carefully the economic situation of the poorest, the socially minded architect can think of means, whether architectural, political or economical, by which an individual or family can use self-build to improve their financial position. The dwelling can either be built from scratch using subsidised or loaned materials, which are partially repaid in labour hours; or the self-builder can be given a very low-cost, subsidised framework of a house. This can be immediately inhabited and there is no timeframe in which the user must decorate or expand the house beyond the confines of the framework. The dwelling appreciates in value as it is improved. This may happen over many years with additions and improvements being made incrementally, as the self-builder can afford it. The basic provision of structure activates the process of selfdesign and self-build, which coexist with habitation. The initial input may be a subsidy, micro-finance scheme, box of components, basic physical structure or even as little as access to a knowledge pool. The architect cannot provide the financial resources necessary for such a project and must engage with various organisations, governmental and non-governmental to facilitate a platform for social mobility. Another means of activation, often following co-operative self-build efforts, is through the acquisition of skills with which the user can move into the construction industry. This transfer of skills is not always facilitated directly by the architect but can occur through self-organisation of the self-builders.
3. Walter Segal; John Broome; Brian Richardson; Colin Ward Cedric Green [University of Sheffield] Teddy Cruz [Estudio Teddy Cruz] Alejandro Aravena [Elemental] Filipe Balestra & Sara Gรถransson
CASE STUDIES 1 Segal Method Housing, Lewisham, UK
2 Netherspring Solar Housing Co-operative, Sheffield, UK
3 Manufactured Sites, Tijuana, Mexico
4 Quinta Monroy Incremental Housing, Iquique, Chile
Incremental Housing Stretegy, Pune, India
21 3 5
figure 3.1 - Although all houses have been built on the same principles, the individuality of the houses on Walterâ€™s Way is very apparent and the way the system has been adapted, improved and modernised over time has resulted in a colourful and diverse range of dwellings.
SEGAL METHOD HOUSING The physical interface itself originated from a design for temporary accommodation in Segal’s back garden whilst his brick house was being rebuilt. It was a cheap, practical and lightweight structure that used modular system of dimensions based on conventional sizes of readily available materials, to avoid the need for sawing to size and to reduce waste. This also meant that the system is flexible and the house can easily be extended, walls were not load bearing so could be unbolted and moved in a matter of hours. He developed detailing that meant that there would be little water ingress, and any that did occur could easily drain out the bottom and allow the timber frame to dry out. Word of the temporary house was far reaching and private clients commissioned Segal to design them larger versions, which were initially constructed by carpenters until a schoolteacher realised that the work his carpenter was doing didn’t look beyond his capabilities. Segal had realised the potential of his system and set about looking for a project such as this.1 1. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.171 2. Ibid. pp.57 3. McKean, J (1989), Learning from Segal, Basel, Birkenhauser Verlag, pp.10 4. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.58
The year was 1974. Following the housing crisis there were many people on the Lewisham Borough Council waiting list, waiting for the chance to move out of their existing council accommodation to somewhere they hoped would offer a higher standard of living. The housing officer longed for housing that people would want to stay put in and that didn’t ostensibly fall within budget and then wildly overrun during construction. Moreover, the new minister for housing at the time, Reg Freeson, wanted to make a marked improvement during his term so invited local authorities to innovate. This came to the attention of Colin Ward, who was hoping to put his anarchist theories of ‘dweller control’ into action. He was introduced to Walter Segal having addressed a National Housing Conference presided over by Freeson, and the two got talking about setting up a pioneering self-build scheme.2 Segal was brought up among the European modernist movement, as his father, Arthur Segal, was an artist in circles that included Tzara, Arp, Oud, Mies Van der Rohe, Klee and Kandisky and was later in regular contact with architects Gropius, Taut and Mendelsohn. Surrounded by such ideology from an early age, it just so happened that later in life he had grown tired of modernist rhetoric and decided to focus solely on the disadvantaged to develop an ideology he branded ‘self-help housing’. He took time to conceive a self-build method, effectively a design interface, that eliminated wet trades, therefore removing the need for skilled labourers in the construction process, allowing the novice builder to construct their own house in entirety. All this could be achieved for a relatively modest sum of money.The method was based on a modular timber-framed system that was inherently flexible in nature, facilitating modification to the design both pre and post completion.3 Brian Richardson who was the borough architect’s assistant at the time, was well acquainted with anarchist circles and shared Ward’s principle of “‘Anarchy in Action’ -- that is - that anarchy is not just an attainable utopia waiting for the day everyone turns good, but the best way of organising social affairs now.”4 Ward spoke of Segal as anarchist architect. Out of this marriage of alternative viewpoints, Lewisham Self-Build Housing Association was born. The borough architect, however, was not initially convinced, but allowed Richardson to develop the idea for committee consideration, provided he did it in his own time. Here he principally took on the role of facilitator and fixer. 25
figure 3.2 â€˜The Segal method is not a system of building but an â€œattitude of mind based on the rigorous simplification of the whole building process, including design and documentation as well as the actual processes on site. [..,] The notion of a way of building based upon using mass produced building products which is yet simple so that ordinary people can design and then build their own houses suggest a vernacular form of building appropriate for our times.â€?5
There are intrinsically many advantages of the Segal method; the construction process requires just the mastery of a few basic carpentry skills; foundations costs are much lower as the building sits on stilts which extend as piles into holes dug in the ground and infilled with concrete, eliminating the need for landscaping the site and minimising encroachment on trees adjacent to the structure. The off-the-shelf incorporation of many of the building components also means that the timescale of the build is reduced.6 The primary structural frame is assembled on the ground. The only part of the construction that requires more than two people is the raising of the frame, an event which evokes the community spirit of Amish barn raisings. The raising of each house is a milestone which creates a real sense of unity. 5. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.173 6. Ibid. pp.174 7. Ibid. pp.58
figure 3.3 - Segal Method stairs
The proposals were eventually submitted for council review under borough architect’s name. They were initially interested but had doubts over the timber frame’s “sturdiness, insurability, durability, and fire resistance.”7 The help of other council departments had to be enlisted by Richardson, including the borough treasurer, borough solicitor, borough valuer and housing officer. The period followed a time of boom whereby the council bought up all available land including steeply sloping land that they could not afford to build upon when the market levelled again. Segal’s system capitalised upon this as the houses were designed to rest upon stilts, therefore it was agreed the self-builders could use this land, but only following persuasion by the borough architect that it was unsuitable for any ordinary scheme. Preceding the build, while the labyrinth of bureaucracy that lasted five years was being painstakingly unravelled by Richardson, Segal took on the responsibility of activating the group through education. He led a series of classes explaining structural principles and demonstrated typical jointing through practical exercises. He also enlisted other specialists to explain plumbing, electrical wiring, and so on, so the self-builders would be primed when the time came for construction to begin. An initial meeting with potential residents determined that a majority favoured a shared equity scheme. Nobody would build for free. It was agreed the council would own freehold of the land but the dwelling would be part-owned, part-rented, with the tenants free to purchase a greater share in the future with a view to eventually owning the property. A steering group emerged from the meeting that went on to stipulate their own terms for the build. A flexible financial package with the options of lower equity and higher rent meant that those with little capital could opt into the ballot to participate the scheme and regardless of age, sex or marital status. The self-builders registered their form of housing association. They elected to reject the ‘model rules’ issued by National federation of housing associations for the self-build groups, due to the fact that these we’re chiefly aimed at groups of skilled tradesmen, working in sequence on all houses, with logged hours, a penal system, and most alarmingly, women and children barred from site or ‘relegated to making tea’. It was decided by the residents themselves there would be no rules, apart 27
8. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.62 9. Ibid. pp.64
figure 3.4 - critique in the guise of encouragement
from “regular payment of a nominal subscription that would build up a fund for buying some essential tools”.8 As the Segal method completely eliminates the need for specialist trades, each house could be completed by its future occupant. The hours worked were the prerogative of each. This had a number of advantages, including involving the females and any children that were old enough in the building process. Furthermore, there was no friction between different families on the build as each was accountable for only their own house, and the amount of voluntary mutual help given was very high. The DoE regional architect had to make sure all schemes conformed to all design and Parker-Morris standards and the District Surveyors who administered the London building act demanded full details of the timber frame to comply with fire regulations. For this, the houses had to be designed quickly in detail. Throughout his architectural career, Segal had long preferred to employ hack draughtsmen rather than architects assistants and had developed a method of drawing plans very quickly on squared paper, an interface which enabled the layman to easily engage with architectural design. He encouraged each family to design the floor plan of their dwelling using this method. Carefully considering these he came up with a range of plans, some bungalows, some houses, with two, three and four bedrooms. Each family then met with him to discuss the plans and make any amendments before he drew them up in detail. The sequence in which the houses are built, foundations, frame and then roof, defines the physical volume of the house and creates a shelter for the self-builders to work under. While the self-builders were living in the Deptford area during the build, they were effectively appropriating the volume from this point onwards and engaging in a process of simultaneous building, designing and living, overseen by Segal who was exercising a critique of each dwelling in the guise of ‘encouragement’.9 Broome, who was also one of the self-builders, has since been offering technical assistance to all the Lewisham self-builders who require it for extensions or alterations, including those who have moved in subsequently. Some of the later extensions have made very adventurous use of materials and have deviated far from the original system. The strong community spirit that followed the build has been upheld ever since. The 28
figure 3.5 - volume of inhabitation defined by roof figure 3.6 - communal raising of the frame
figure 3.7 range of plans for Walterâ€™s Way
communal road and services are private so there is still a formal yearly residents meeting, as well as many informal gatherings. A resident of Walter’s Way, who was not an original self-builder but has been a long term resident explained to me, “When we moved in all the kids were playing in the street and there was a yearly street party. Those kids have all grown up and become teenagers or moved out and some have had their own kids who are also now playing in the street. In summer all the doors are open, people are moving in and out of each other’s houses. […] We also have a harvest festival afternoon; people come up with lots of ideas. Life revolves around people in the street. We’re very grateful for it. Kids can go out in the Street and play just like that – as streets used to be – which is quite unusual in London nowadays. It’s a very important thing and why people want to come and live here and be here and be part of that community.” 10 This is evident even from an outsider’s perspective. Upon my first visit in October 2010 there was a lot of activity in the street, children running around, people coming and going from houses.There was even a large barbecue standing proudly at the bottom of the cul-de-sac. In my opinion there is nothing that better reflects the success of the scheme.
10. see appendix B
figure 3.8 – framing infil made of recycled plastic bags
figure 3.9 – a porthole style window is slotted into cladding panel and bolted back to frame, to see who is approaching the house.
figure 3.10 – glazing ordered for Heathrow Terminal 5 was of the wrong specification so was appropriated by a self-builder who was working there as a contractor, and fitted to the front of his Segal Method house! 30
SEGAL IN THE 21st CENTURY The technology behind most of the houses on Walters Way has been updated to alternative systems. Many have replaced the Warmcell insulation with a modern substitute by simply unbolting the wall panels and fitting the new material. Others have embraced the spirit of the Segal Method even further by using alternative faĂ§ade materials and detailing that hides the timber structure to further improve U-values and to express individualism
figure 3.11 â€“ alternative cladding, Walters Way
NETHERSPRING SOLAR HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE Netherspring is a Sheffield self-build that began life in quite the opposite way to Lewisham. It was a grass-roots effort initiated in 1982 by a group of friends with an enthusiasm for sustainability and alternative technology. They started the Sheffield Solar Housing Co-operative with the Industrial Co-Ownership Movement, paying a deposit of £250 each. There were two ‘key players’ in the scheme, introduced by a councillor at an alternative technology fair in Weston Park.11 One was already studying environmental technologies at Mount Pleasant College, the other was an architect at the University of Sheffield, Cedric Green, who was researching environmental design and had devised an award-winning sustainable housing prototype named SHED (Solar Heated Experimental Dwelling), which had been tested using a computerised three-dimensional thermal modelling system called SCRIBE. The idea was planted and Sheffield City Council were approached for support.
figure 3.12 & 3.13 – Gleadless Valley Estate and threshold to Paxton Court
11. see appendix A
The council offered the co-operative five different plots. The Gleadless valley site was chosen because of its southwest orientation, proximity to the centre of Sheffield and accessibility by road and public transport. It is located in the top corner of a sprawling 1960s housing estate, built on the principles of the picturesque painting movement as a reaction to the brutalism of projects such as Park Hill. It is a sink estate that nonetheless is well maintained and has a pleasant atmosphere. However, the material quality and the level maintenance and pride that exists in Paxton Court is a great deal higher than on the rest of the estate. Upon entering the cul-de-sac for the first time, having travelled all the way up through Gleadless Valley, the difference is quite astonishing. The organisation of the co-operative was fixed by this leading group, which grew in number through the recruitment of friends. The rest of the co-operative were also either friends, or responded to an advert in the local paper, following which they were interviewed. Those with construction skills were favoured. The build was originally only meant to take eighteen months but in the end took twice as long due to an unforeseen lack of skilled labour owing to some last-minute dropouts. It was decided the dwellings would be built house-by-house rather than trade-by-trade and members worked on all houses one by one. A performance bond of £2000 was stipulated to ensure people didn’t reduce the pace of building as their house was completed, but never had to be enforced. Accounts were set up with building contractors and suppliers who would be 32
figure 3.14 - Paxton Court is a private cul-de-sac. The houses and gardens are well maintained and a strong sense of pride is evident. 33
Green, to allow for rapid construction and flexibility of interior layout, initially specified a timber frame structure. The houses were also designed on a grid to the dimensions of a standard pane of horticultural glazing. Four glazing panels equated to the width of a structural bay of the timber frame, and in some of the houses extra bays or half bays were added during construction. The interior stud-walls are not load bearing, therefore their position could be altered as the house was under construction, resulting in variations within the same structural shell. These have not been altered again since the original build was completed, as has been the case in Lewisham. The southeast and southwest walls comprise of a cheap timber-framed conservatory allowing maximum solar gain. Insulated cavity brickwork was used for northeast and northwest walls with minimal window openings for high thermal mass. The brick walls were not specified in the original design to allow all members to partake in the construction, but were integrated following discussions with the co-op, two of whom were bricklayers by trade. Additionally, statistics from SHED and SCRIBE suggested a higher thermal mass was required.
figure 3.15 â€“ illustration of solar principles â€“ adaptable scheme for seasonal variation in climate.
paid off as each family moved into their own house and obtained a mortgage. Different plots cost different amounts depending on their size, ranging from £3000 for a starter home to £5000 for a bungalow and working hours also varied accord to size of house ranging from 18 to 22 per week in summer and 11 to 13 in winter. The architect’s role in the build was to give technical assistance. Green had a high level of control over the design, but his involvement was deeper than just consultancy as he was also acting as a client and member of the co-operative. The project was also the fruition of his long-term research project, SHED, which had been awarded second prize in the 1980 First European Passive Solar Housing Competition. He logged hours on site along with the rest of the co-op, obtained a mortgage and moved in for a short period of time when the build was completed, although it is speculated that this was only due to pressure from other members.12 Gordon Wordsworth, a professional bricklayer, member of the co-operative and qualified clerk of works, took on the role of activator giving training to those without construction skills. Others took on various accounting and organisational roles. Following the build, some used these newly acquired skills to enter the construction industry and another keeping accounts obtained a job as a secretary.
figure 3.16 – passive solar heating system 12. see appendix A
13. Green, C, Paxton Court, http://www. greenart.info/Paxton%20Court/Paxton%20 Court%20Sheffield.html accessed 29/04/11
The houses employ an integrated passive environmental heating system. Solar energy enters the house through the south facing glazing and heats a glass fronted spandrel panel solar collector, located on the wall in the top part of the conservatory. Heat is captured and used to supplement the domestic hot water system via a ‘bread box’ heater, a black-painted water cylinder. Heated air in the spandrel panel is sucked down through a duct by a fan to an area beneath the suspended concrete floor slab, which acts on the principle of a hypocaust, slowly heating the interior living spaces in winter.13 Shutters that swing up horizontally to reduce excess heat gain in the hot summer months by shading the conservatory were specified by the architect. It doesn’t seem that these were ever constructed by some of the residents, who seem to have no knowledge of their existence. Perhaps this is a consequential of the fact the houses were only co-operatively finished to a ‘structural shell’, leaving the interior wholly up to each 35
of the residents to complete. It also probably owes to the fact that the Sheffield climate is fairly equable from season to season and most people prefer the ‘light and airy’ nature of a full height conservatory in summer, and can increase ventilation in the summer months by opening windows to mitigate excessive heat gain. Some of the residents even neglected to fit the electric fan to draw heat from the spandrel panel, but assert that the solar aspects of the house still functions to a very satisfactory level.14 It is stated in the contract that no alterations were to be made that affect the solar performance of the house but it seems some residents have done so regardless. Additionally, the folding ‘French doors’ specified by green to fully open the partition wall between conservatory and heated living space were replaced with sliding patio doors to utilise the space where the door swing would have been. Whilst Green might not have been too happy about these alterations, John Broome advocates that this is a “fascinating example of how, given the opportunity, people jump and the chance to tailor their built environment to their own needs. One idea breeds another, inventiveness abounds.”15 figure 3.17 – conservatory 14. See appendix A 15. Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.91 16. See appendix A
figure 3.18 – group construction
Wordsworth took to the spirit of the project and drastically redesigned the interior spaces of the house, removing partitions and glazed screens in places, incorporating loft bedrooms and keeping the shutter in the horizontal position year round and removing the division between conservatory and internal rooms. Many of the self-builders have also retrospectively converted the loft space specified for storage into another bedroom and constructed another set of stairs. Externally the houses are more uniform than Lewisham as they were built one by one as a collective effort. SHED, which was transported to site and used as a tool store during the construction period was originally going to be converted to a communal facility/ social space with allotments and an orchard nearby, however, by the end of a build which was double the estimated length, people just wanted a break.16 There still seems to be a strong sense of community on the street, although there was less commitment to staying put after the project, as house prices in Sheffield are not as high as in London and the properties proved easy to sell on. Some, Wordsworth and Green included, moved in order to self-build again. Nowadays, only one original family remains. 36
figure 3.19 - southwest facing consevatory captures solar radiation, heating a black painted spandrel panel from which heat is drawn by an electric fan to a hypocaust beneath the living area. 37
MANUFACTURED SITES As already discussed, rural to urban migration in the developing world and gravitation towards centres of economic power is a major cause of slum formation; sprawling masses of self-built temporary dwellings on appropriated land.Teddy Cruz works across the closed border between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, California. “At no other international juncture in the world can one find such expensive real estate in such close proximity to poor settlements.” The border fence runs the entire length of the country and is patrolled by US Homeland Security, but that is not to say it isn’t highly permeable. There is a complex network of ‘trans-migrational’ flows both legal and illegal that comprises of manufactured goods, waste, drugs and even people.17 As is often the case where there is an extreme rich-poor divide, their economies are entwined and are simultaneously supportive and reliant upon one another, with rich often exploiting poor.The North American Free Trade Agreement is the basis upon which Maquiladoras (foreign-owned factories) locate in Tijuana to take advantage of the vast supply of immigrants willing to work for relatively little. Manufactured goods are then transported across the border to San Diego where they are sold at inflated prices for enormous profit. Maquiladoras currently have no legal obligation to provide any kind of infrastructure or amenities for the informal settlements that grow around them.
above: figure 3.20 – US/Mexican border figure 3.21 – house in Tijuana figure 3.22 – ‘McMansion’ in San Diego 17. Cruz, T (2008) Border translations: urbanism beyond the property line, Praxis, p. 92-99, Issue no.10, 2008 18. Ballesteros, M (2008), Verb Crisis, Barcelona, Actar, pp.270
Dwellings are constructed from the waste materials of San Diego. Tyres are stripped, looped, interwoven and filled with earth to create sturdy retaining walls. Garages, refrigerator doors, factory pallets and more are erected to create basic shelter. Whole post-war prefab houses that are due for scrap in San Diego are transported across the border by enterprising individuals and sold in Tijuana to be often placed atop a steel frame, erected among existing dwellings in urban districts, below which a commercial outlet or workshop is established. Anything that can be reused, the residents will find a way to incorporate. The entire affair has a highly sophisticated ‘social choreography’ run by what Cruz asserts are community activists or land speculators branded ‘urban pirates’, who manage development with mobile phones.18 The most basic of amenities, water and electricity are often delivered retrospectively by the municipality after uncontrollable ‘explosions’ of development owing to social emergency. 38
figure 3.23 - The Maquiladoras locate in Tijuana to capitalise on a supply of cheap labour to maximise profits. Supply of work is guaranteed as the local economy is not very buoyant, and the mass relocation of workers to informal settlements surrounding the factory often ensues. 39
figure 3.24 - The maquiladora made components that comprise the structural framework facilitate the integration of many different material systems, and in this case the self-build adjoineds an elevated house salvaged from the redundant stock of San Diego.
Manufactured sites is a project which aims to bring some kind of rigour and formality to what is essentially slum formation, without disturbing the participatory nature of construction and creative solutions Tijuana’s immigrants have naturally implemented. A network-orientated mode of architectural collaboration must evolve, which transcends the traditional roles and relationships of architect and client.
19. Waldorf, C, In Conversation with Teddy Cruz http://canopycanopycanopy.com/7/learning_from_ tijuana, accessed 29/04/11
“As artists and architects, we can contribute to the rethinking of urbanism by designing and conceptualizing political and economic processes. But without an understanding of the conditions that produced this crisis—which can themselves be thought of as the architect’s material—we will just be making public art or decorating the failings of misguided planning and selfish economics. This is what I consider to be the political in art or architecture: not the production of political architecture, but the construction of the political itself, towards an architecture of social relevance.This begins by asking questions: Who owns the resources? Whose territory is this? In other words: the exposition of an institution’s mechanisms in order to show how it operates. My aim is to open up institutions, turning its mechanisms into material to be reconfigured.”19
below, left to right figure 3.26 – rertaining tyre wall figure 3.27 – factory pallets provide shade/shelter figure 3.28 – elevated house with workshop below
Manufactured Sites is a framework or ‘scaffold’ with which recycled and reclaimed materials can be easily integrated. Cruz describes it as a “hinge mechanism mediating between different recycled materials and systems”. In practice it is a lightweight, low-tech, prefabricated frame that offers all the benefits of structural stability, flexibility and amenity without preventing the utilisation of readily available waste materials that enter Tijuana continually.The framework is designed to integrate with the existing rubber tyre
figure 3.25 – transporting housing materials
retaining-wall system as a sturdy foundation.
figure 3.29 â€“ delivery of manufactured components
Estudio Teddy Cruz proposed the Maquiladoras should be actively involved in providing this framework as a surplus to current production. Exploitation of free economic zones to benefit so greatly from the cheap labour whilst giving nothing in return to the communities that evolve around them is a contentious question of morality. These belts of informal housing may have sophisticated networks of social cohesion but they are precarious and unsustainable. There is currently no political mechanism to ensure the Maquiladoras provide anything for the people of Tijuana. As a vehicle for change Estudio Teddy Cruz engaged a San Diego based NGO, Casa Familiar with the Municipal Planning Institute of Tijuana. This has created a momentum and change current policy and devise methods of funding to ensure a more equable relationship between the factories and the communities they rely on for their operation.
figure 3.30 â€“ components assembled by community
figure 3.31 â€“ maquiladora-made components
figure 3.32 - A further example of the possibility of the structural framework. Here being used as access to the house above.
QUINTA MONROY, IQUIQUE, CHILE
The existing labyrinthine agglomeration of precarious informal settlements in Quinta Monroy commanded a very central location. The authority found it difficult to police and plans were made to raze the entire settlement and rebuild it out of town. There 21. Ballesteros, M (2008), Verb Crisis, Barcelona, Actar, e in the market and in our best scenario, just 60 families were able to a resounding objection from the residents at the prospect being displaced so the was pp.271 d not just provoke a social conflict for 40 families (and the government local had to reconsider to the proposal. National Director for infrastructure of nt that we had to spend all the money in buying the land, with no the Neighbourhood Chile program commissioned Elemental, the architect, to explore al built space. alternatives in housing for the existing site. It was their first commission but the principal architect, Alejandro Aravena Figure 4: Quinta Monroy location and aerial view before project had spent time researching housing alternatives at Harvard University and the Catholic University of Chile, looking in particular at partial autoThe subsidy for each family We tested all the typologies available inconstruction. the market and in our allocated best scenario, just 60 families were able towas $7500. 100 families had to be be re-settled in the site; this would not just provoke a social conflict 40 families local accommodated on the smallforsite, as part(and of the a program called ‘Housing without Debt’. democratic authorities), but it meant that we had to spend all the money in buying the land, with no Each family was to own their own unit outright, so the building cost had to be extraorresources left for an acceptable initial built space. dinarily low. Typical social housing design would only accommodate 60 of 100 families.20 20. http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/ dlygad2_quintamonroy Monroy location and aerial view before project accessed 29/4/11
Figure 4: Quinta Monroy location and aerial view before project In standard
social housing, the cost ratio of structure to finishes is around 70/30, so there wasn’t much room for economising on structure. Therefore the most feasible solution row house, building, does not ted all the typologies available in themulti-storey market and in our best scenario, 60 familiesonly werehalf able of to the house. In order to fit 100 houses into such a small site was just to provide allow crowding expansions overcrowding ettled in the site; this would not just provoke a social conflict for 40 families (and the local without building a high-rise atic authorities), but it meant that we had to spend all the money in buying the land, with no apartment block with which there lay a stigma among existing residents, they were going to have to reinvent existing social housing typologies.21 es left for an acceptable initial built space. Figure 5
750.000 100 (families)
The architects involved the existing community of settlers in the design process in orFigure 5 der to establish which living requirements are absolutely fundamental and which can be n, shifting our mindset from the scale of the best possible US $7,500 isolated house, row house, multi-storey building, does not o the scale of the best possible US $750.000 building capable of tacked on later when the family establish enough funds. inefficient land use allow crowding expansions overcrowding 1 house = 1 lot
There are two dwelling types, a ground floor apartment and a duplex gs block expansions. That is true, with the exception of the ground what tofloors, do? vertically into the air. n expand horizontally andSo, those on top upper floor. The ground floor apartment has a floor area 36m2 with a building that had just the ground and the top floor. US$ 7,500 X 100 (families) US$ 750.000 100 (families) 2 2
apartment on the the option to extend in the future to 72m and the duplex apartment 25m , with the option to extend 2 1 house = 1 lot fi gure 3.33 in the our future to from 75mthe , the size of best a middle-income Chilean family home. g", having a house in a lotWe andstarted then an of it. shifting byapartment reframingon thetop question, mindset scale of the possible US $7,500
Figure 5 d the efficiency of land use, into housthe design. detatched and semi-detached andgoing terraced unit before to be even multiplied 100 times, to theThis scale of the best possible US $750.000 building capable of isolated house, row multi-storey building, does not e all the 100 families, pay for thedensities land,house, and therefore, totheir keep the ing didn’t have necessary to accommoaccommodating 100 families and expansions. inefficient land use allow crowding expansions The architect’s role then is primarily one of activation. Conventional social housing is overcrowding 2 hat was the first condition expect date 100 to families on an the upgrade 5000m in sitetheir living oftenexpansions. unable toThat grow in value, thethehome We knew though, that high buildings block is true, with thetherefore, exception of groundis not perceived as an asset in the and top floor; ground floor units can expand horizontally and those on top floors, vertically into the financial sense. Having no perceived value other air. than that of the shelter often leads to there is a stigma associated with high rise aparthat to do? What we did then, was to conceive a building that had just the ground and the top floor. ment blocks mistreated and poorly maintained housing. Creating a house that people can decorate 500 X 100 (families) US$ 750.000 100 (families) Or in other words, "Parallel Building", having a house in a lot and then an apartment on top of it. rted by reframing the question, the scale of the bestofpossible USbefore $7,500even going into the design. This With 2shifting familiesour permindset lot, wefrom doubled the efficiency land use, 44 be multiplied 100 times, to theallowed scale of best possible all USthe $750.000 building density us the to accommodate 100 families, paycapable for theofland, and therefore, to keep the modating 100 families and their and expansions. social economical network that was the first condition to expect an upgrade in their living
social and economical network that was the first condition to expect an upgrade in their living conditions.
figure 3.34 â€“ new housing typology invented by playing with the geometry of blocks. figure 3.35 â€“ from the existing settlement, to the basic provided to the Figure 6: framework, parallel building extended self-built dwellings after a few years of occupation
and eventually expand, can increase the dwellings value and its long term maintenance due to the degree of environmental control given to the user means it will appreciate, to the point where the owner can eventually move up the property ladder. It is interesting that a study 18 months after the build found that some families were actually bringing in contractors to extend the house, and only a quarter were reusing materials, in order to achieve a higher quality finish. On one level Quinta Monroy can be seen to have some of the positive aspects of a slum settlement, such as individualism, dweller control, and sub communities formed around courtyards, without the negative ones associated with lack of infrastructure, although it could also be argued that by compartmentalising the residents into their own defined â€˜unitâ€™, the architect has subverted the community that previously existed. 22. The Incremental House, Chile, Quinta Monroy http://incrementalhouse.blogspot.com/2008/10/chilequinta-monroy.html accessed 29/4/11
Interestingly, some residents have constructed outbuildings adjacent to their properties which they run or rent out as shops to generate extra income. Most houses have been painted in bright colours and the act of cladding and colouring is not just restricted to the extended components but has migrated to the existing structure. Individual identity is outwardly expressed in the community through material variations, without compromising on an overall formality.22 For the scheme, Aravena was awarded the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Architect in the International Exhibition at the Venice architecture biennale. Since 2004, ELEMENTAL has built another 1,000 units and designed an additional 2,000 around Central and South America.
figure 3.36 - The interior space is fitted out to a basic shell standard, with nothing spent on finishes. The self-builder appropriates the space and begins the processes of living, designing and building simulatneously, with complete control over their environment. After a while, maybe weeks, months or even years of decorating and extending they will have extended to the limits of the expansion bays, but the process of aesthetic improvement has no definative end.
INCREMENTAL HOUSING STRATEGY IN INDIA The work of Fillipe Balestra and Sara Göransson in India is the culmination of many of the roles discussed. They were invited by Sheela Patel and Jockin Arputham of the NGO SPARC to develop a universal Incremental Housing Strategy for slum settlements. The architects were in an interesting position collaborate on such a project as Balestra had previously designed a school in a Brazilian favela and Göransson was involved in city scale urban strategizing in Stockholm.
figure 3.37 - existing slum conditions 23. http://www.styleofdesign.com/2009/05/incrementalhousing-strategy-in-india-filipe-balestra-sara-goransson/ accessed 29/04/11
Their strategy leaves social infrastructure intact by exploiting existing urban patterns. Most importantly, “neighbours will remains neighbours, local remains local”23 Similar to Quinta Monroy, a subsidy is provided by the government of €4500, but the the families must contribute 10%, either directly or via ‘sweat equity’. They have developed a number of variations on the incremental housing typology using participatory methods to engage the existing slum inhabitants in the design process. Each variation exploits verticality as a means to overcome space shortages in the slum, having two enclosed stories and one initially left open for later expansion.The pilot project is in Pune, but both architects and NGO are now working together to implement the scheme in other countries with slum populations including Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, The Philippines and more. Families may choose one of three variations, each with an initial area of 25m2, stipulated
figure 3.38 - participatory approach
figure 3.39 House A: a 2 story house structured as a 3 story house, allowing the owner to extend the house vertically without structural risks in the future.
figure 3.40 House B: a 2 story house on pilots, allowing for the owner to either leave the space open for parking or to increment it as a shop or an extra bedroom.
figure 3.41 House C: a 3 story house with a void in the middle. This void can be used like a veranda, living or working space, and the family can close it in order to create a new bedroom in the future.
by the government. Additionally, each house will have a kitchen and toilet, amenities absent from existing dwellings, and infrastructure will be provided by the government. Like Quinta Monroy the house is just the skeleton of a building which can then be inhabited, decorated and expanded into the free bay, allowing incremental additions and an appreciation in value, although to a lesser extent.
figure 3.42 - facade composition showing expansion bays
It is interesting how this case study brings the roles previously discussed in full circle.The NGO acted as mediator negotiating subsidies from the government and also as fixer, inviting the architect to explore design solutions. Finally, residents were engaged through even-based participatory processes from which three prototypes for activation were established.
figure 3.43 - involvement of existing inhabitants
figure 3.44 - use of existing slum foorprint, avoiding â€˜Haussmannisationâ€™ of slum
figure 3.45 â€“ The vision of the architect, following Elemental, is one of colour and variation. The facades from the street express individuality, but with a strong definition of ownership due the standardisation of footprint, a characteristic that is absent from the slum. 51
4. refer to figures 4.1 & 4.2 overleaf
critic [event-based architecture]
CONCLUSIONS The roles undertaken in each of the case studies are defined in the table overleaf [figure 4.1], along with the means by which each project is intiated and funded. Whilst this seems to quite comprehensively link the theory to the case studies, the reality is rarely as simple as ‘this architect is fulfilling this specific role in this case study’, as often these roles are overlapping and being fulfilled simultaneously, or disproportionate amounts of time are devoted to one role over others.The defining role of each case study has been highlighted, but it is nevertheless useful to include a complementary diagram [figure 4.2] linking the case studies to the theory in a manner which is perhaps more empirical and less rigourous, but arguably more telling than a table. Analogically speaking, as a political party could be defined as left or right rather than by their individual policies, figure 4.2 is an extension of the diagram at the start of chapter two, and aims to define the architect’s role on a spectrum, ranging from macro to micro in one direction and in terms of the level of user participation they encourage in the other. It is possible to discern from figure 4.2 how the architects role has migrated from the micro, or the specific in the earlier UK-based case studies, to the macro, or increasingly universal in the 21st Century Case studies in developing countries. As stated in the introduction, although the five case studies are very different in nature, they were all intended to be prototypes or test-beds to be carried forward into larger scale production, and have seen various levels of success, although the latest two are on-going and are yet to yield significant results. It seems that ostensibly, the projects that profited the most were those that incorporated the most roles. Segal Method housing involved a team of four architects fulfilling roles across the spectrum, Segal defining the interface with ambitions for a universal solution to the housing problem; Ward, tending more toward urbanist than architect, aspired to activate the individual, promoting dweller control; Richardson, the borough architect’s assistant did a lot of the bureaucratic legwork for the specific dwellings and estates and John Broome has overseen the technical assistance of all those wishing extend or improve their houses since. Whilst the interface may not have proliferated to the extent Segal had hoped, Hundreds of Segal Method houses have been built in the UK as well as around the globe, and the communities that followed the Lewisham selfbuilds are tellingly strong. 52
C ASA FAMILA R
I ATO R |
F AC E
Cedric Green’s solar housing archetype has been implemented elsewhere on a singleunit scale, and whilst the project was a success, limited design participation was permitted. The effects have not been as far reaching as with the Segal Method housing of a similar period as users were only able to alter the interior of their house following the communal completion of the building shell. Few alterations have been made since, leaving some of the users to move on and restart the self-build process using the experience and skills they acquired.
I V AT I O
T IC | CRI
X E R | F AC
TATO R |
TATO R |
ITIC | C
SS I S TA C E | N
C | RI TI C
T | A C T I VA
I ATO R |
I ATO R |
| |C RITIC
E R | F AC
I ATO R |
I N | AC T
R F AC E D
I ELOPER |
ELO ER | P
Similarly, Elemental’s project under Aravena fulfilled the roles of activation and interface design simultaneously whilst interestingly, mediation was carried out by members of slum themselves, negotiating the subsidy and preventing their displacement. The project has been a tremendous success, earning Aravena the Silver Lion award at the Venice Bienale, but more importantly, helping thousands of families out of poverty through the design and construction of schemes following the same typology across the continent.
Manufactured Sites has been ongoing for a many years and the successes are either yet to be documented or quite thin on the ground. This may be due to the fact Cruz is predominantly involved at the far end of the spectrum, mediating between poor and government bodies with the help of an NGO, ultimately trying to gain support of the private sector where it is notoriously difficult to yield benevolence. Real change will have to be enforced by the government, a slow and difficult process in an economy reliant upon the Maquiladoras. Incremental Housing in India is an exciting project as although it is a very recent development, roles across the spectrum are being fulfilled by architects with backgrounds in both macro and micro, along with the backing of an NGO as mediator. Event-based participatory processes have strongly influenced the design process and the proposed interface is being marketed to other countries with slum populations. A most interesting point to conclude is that whilst these six roles have been outlined as means to architect engagement, not all of them need to be fulfilled by a qualified architect, as has been illustrated in figure 4.1. In many cases, these roles have been carried out by NGOs, social activists and politicians, but above all the self-builders themselves. 53
1974 anarchist movement
1984 bottom up [laymen]
2003 top down [govt]
90% local govt 10% user
critic [event-based architecture]
Cruz <> NGO
| A C T I VA
D I ATO R
IC | CRIT
L I TATO R
A ER | F
D I ATO R
CHN I C AL
S I S TA N C E
D I ATO R
O N | AC
T E R F AC E
S I S TA N C E
IT I C | CR
|I NT E E R F AC
D I ATO R
T I V AT I O
|C RITIC |
L I TATO R
|F I X E R | FA
AT I O N |
KEY SEGAL METHOD HOUSING NETHERSPRING SOLAR HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE MANUFACTURED SITES QUINTA MONROY INCREMENTAL HOUSING INCREMENTAL HOUSING STRETEGY, INDIA PHYSICAL ROLES SOCIO-POLITICAL ROLES 55
1. Segal, W (1983) Walter Segal: Learning From The Self-Builders PAV 8301 London, Pidgeon Audio Visual (cassette with slides)
2. Ballesteros, M (2008), Verb Crisis, Barcelona, Actar, pp.277
Most projects have seen active, even assertive user participation in the domain of selforganisation and financing, though more often than not, the users are content to leave typically ‘architectural’ elements, such as materiality, structural systems, and detailing to the expert architect. However, when it comes to the layout of their homes they are generally quick again to take matters of design into their own hands, and the most successful projects have facilitated this both during and after initial completion. Segal stated nearly thirty years ago that architect has to go further than this and “learn how to enable people to figure things out for themselves. And we shall have to learn more, not only in the matter of explaining simple techniques but in the handling and dealing with people.”1 It has been made clear that architects can bring many benefits to self-build, particularly where the poorest and least empowered are concerned. As is evident from figure 4.1, many of the projects have not been initiated by users themselves, but top down by government bodies, NGOs or even the architect. Teddy Cruz argues, “If architects are to intervene in the informal, we must focus on incremental interventions and think in terms of urban acupunctures, micro-urbanisms and organisational tactics instead of the usual monumental redevelopment project.”2 This stresses the argument that the implementation of multiple roles in self-build is beneficial, particularly if they are being fulfilled by different people, each gently pushing the project from different directions but towards a common goal. It seems the architect’s role is about ascertaining the level of control they must take in a self-build to facilitate and excite ordinary people into becoming designers of their own environment. Of particular emphasis should be that the resultant dwelling is a selfconceived product in which the user can naturally take pride, not necessarily an imagining of the architect. So this returns us to the second question: Self-build is a discipline that relies successfully upon informal relationships between an efficient and extensive network of people. Could formalising these relationships through the intervention of an architect be detrimental to the very nature of self-build as an autonomous means to production? It is evident from certain case studies that architect involvement has catalysed the estab56
lishment of autonomous networks.To this day residents of Walterâ€™s way in Lewisham are making creative use of local, reclaimed materials to improve their houses with technical assistance from the the architect, John Broome, for example, the man who incorporated ill-specified glass from Heathrow Terminal 5 to create a large consevatory. Teddy Cruzâ€™s Manufactured Sites to an even greater extent promotes autonomy in this manner, whilst it is arguable that Elementalâ€™s Quinta Monroy does the opposite as it the structral framework compartmentalises its inahabitants. Whilst communal courtyard spaces between units are provided, they are not permitted to evolve in the organic way that less rigourous frameworks, or even a completely autonomous settlement, would allow. Ultimately, it seems the architect must examine the context to determine case by case which roles they must fulfil to bring out the best in a self-build, being prepared stretch their competence well beyond conventional realms of design.
appendix a Mr and Mrs Baggley are the last remaining original self-builders of the Netherspring Solar Housing Co-operative in Sheffield. They were introduced to the scheme by a friend and were among the last to move into their house, a lovely three-bedroom semi at the top of the estate.
Interview with Mr and Mrs Baggley of Paxton Court Why did you decide to self-build in the first place? Well it all revolved around two leading players who went to an alternative technology fair in Weston Park. One, who was a friend of mine, was in alternative technology studying windmills and things at Mount Pleasant. At the same fair there was an architect from Sheffield, Cedric Green. He was doing a model building using a solar technique. A councillor introduced the two and they got talking and it went from there.
Interview recorded on the 30/03/11 And how did the co-operative gain momentum? Cedric and Derek and another, Mike Clarkson, went to the council and got everything set up. The council offered us about five different plots. This one was on a slope facing southwest. The council let us have the land to build on and let us set up accounts with building contractors and suppliers who which would be paid off once everybody had moved into their own house. The first house that was finished got his mortgage, and paid off the suppliers with that money, and the cost of land, and so on. The land cost depended on the size of the plot. Ours cost £3500 at the time but some of the bungalows were more. The hours you had to work were calculated per size of plot. I worked 21 hours but the most was 27. The least was 18. Who trained everyone and what was the proportion of skilled to unskilled labourers? It was about 50-50. Some were selected specifically for their skills. There were two bricklayers, a plumber and then some general labourers. Some did admin. There were quite a few general handymen. There were lots of labouring jobs that didn’t take a lot of skill. Drains etc, groundwork, shifting things about. Cedric was the architect. Cedric didn’t visit the site often but he’d turn up Sunday afternoon with his video camera - caused a bit of friction with some but he was a smashing bloke. I was a good handyman but you pick jobs up as you go along. I worked in the steelworks at the time but and had never built a house but I did most of the roofs, fetched deliveries and odd caddying. Working a bit with bricklayers. Once you picked up certain skills you don’t want to do general labouring jobs anymore because you think you’re above it! There was never a major bust-up in two and a half years. We had disagreements obviously, especially because of a series of problems regarding springs in the ground everywhere. There were coal seams also. The footings at the back of my house are really deep because of this. It was absolutely horrendous! Did anyone change any of the original architects plans? I read the wall dividing the conservatory and the living room was meant to fold up in summer to prevent excess heat gain but nobody seems to have heard of it? No we don’t know anything about that. There was also supposed to be a fan system that sucked the heat collected by the solar collector under through a duct and under the living room floor but we never installed it. Cedric also wanted French doors to open into the conservatory but most people used a
sliding patio door instead because they wanted to save space and they were easy to fit. The house itself, with a big wooden frame means that all the interior walls aren’t load bearing so all walls can be moved around but nobody has really altered them since, although many people added stairs and converted the loft to another bedroom. We had two daughters, it would have been ideal but it was just the expense it at the time. We regret it now though. All work since has been done by the self-builders. Any interior work once the shell was constructed had to be done by you, the kitchen etc… Was there a greater sense of community following the build? Oh yes, we all knew each other and when each house was finished we had a party. It was three years all in all. We were one of the last moving in in ’85, having started in ‘82. There was also talk of having allotments and a communal facility but enthusiasm fizzled out after all the hard work of building the houses. It would have been a washhouse and communal building and there were plans for orchards etc… People just weren’t bothered about it after three years hard work. Did anyone use acquired skills from the process of building? One was an engineer, he took a course in bricklaying and ended up in the building trade and has built his own house since. Gordon was a general builder afterwards and did quite well for himself. He moved to Hathersage afterwards and built a smashing house for himself out there. He benefitted a lot. Women used to work on a voluntary basis. Someone was doing bookwork, realized she liked it and got a job as a secretary afterwards. My wife did staining and timekeeping. Kept a check on everybody’s hours. How come people moved away? Some of them just wanted to do it for the sake of doing it. Cedric for example was pressured into moving in temporarily before he moved away to France. Some of them wanted to move away from the estate. Was it quite hard holding down a job whilst labouring on site? Did you work seven days a week? It was physically very hard. We didn’t work all seven days because we had to fit in with when the bricklayers wanted to work. And finally, how did you make group decisions? We had weekly meetings and called a meeting if anything cropped up. It was very diplomatic really. The whole time we were here there was only ever one vote. Other than that we just got on with it.
appendix b Ian White is not one of the original Lewisham self-builders but is a long term resident of Walters Way and has adapted and extended his house using the Segal Method, with technical assistance from John Broome. He is a Segal Method enthusiast and participated in the 2010 London Open House. Interview was recorded on 13/04/11
Interview with Ian White of Walters Way I understand you aren’t one of the original self-builder’s of Walter’s Way. When did you move here and why, and who lived here before you? All the original self-builders were on the Deptford council waiting list and were offered a piece of land to self-build. The people who lived in our house before us had lived in London all their life, and wanted to move out of London and move on. They were in their late forties, early fifties. I saw a Segal house in the Centre For Alternative Technology and thought – oh that’s really nice – but thought nothing of it until we decided to move and were looking for houses whilst living in New Cross. We went to the open house of John Broome and saw in the window that this house was for sale! Other people I know moved here because they are reliable houses and the street is well known and the locality is known for having a strong community so it is a desirable street to move to. Is that reflected in the price of the houses? I don’t think these houses are any more expensive than other houses in the area of similar size that are brick built for example but many years ago estate agents wouldn’t touch them because they didn’t know what they were, but these days with the housing market as it is they still have to turn a profit. Were the family here before you of a similar size? No they were a couple. So as it was designed specifically for them, by them, did you have to make alterations when you moved in? Well there were already three bedrooms. We’ve extended the living room about two meters out into the garden. We used the same system and got John Broome to draw up the plans. Everything is in keeping as you can see but some materials were upgraded. Rather than using cement board panels on the exterior we used resin board as cement board was prone to cracking, and we also upgraded the windows to prefabricated timber framed windows rather than the original system in which the entire thing was hand made using two panes of glass set into a frame that slide past each other to open which was very draughty. They also took so long to make that the council decided to eventually change the system to pre-fab aluminium framed ones. None of the houses still have original windows now – they have all been replaced. Because the insulation standards were so much lower when they were built, do you have any problems with cold? Have you had to make any alterations to deal with it? The insulation is sandwiched between the panels. I have deemed it better than some other houses I’ve lived in. it’s no longer up to building regs. though so we haven’t been able to use any of it in the extension. We have used other newer types such as Kingspan and in some of the original walls such as the
north facing ones we’ve unbolted the cement board from the frame and replaced the insulation, which was only two, or three days work. It’s must be great how you can make these sorts of changes to your house so easily. Yes, the rooms upstairs you can move the partition walls easily in a couple of hours. Downstairs we’ve moved a few walls around and added a porch. Hardly takes any time at all, whilst in a brick built house you’d have to get a sledgehammer, demolish the wall, rebuild it and re-plaster it. Have you ever had to get anyone in to do any work or have you done it all yourself? Well for our large extension at the front we got contractors in as we have small children and it would have just taken too much time to build. I did self build the lobby using the Segal method. John Broome gave me a simple outline plan of the skeleton...”you need something this size for weight loading but you can work out where you want windows and doors.” I don’t need architects finite drawings to tell me that sort of thing. Did you need to get planning permission for that because I read that for the second Lewisham phase, for anything up to 10% increase you could just extend without planning permission? Yes, as this was likely over 10% we didn’t want to spend all the money on it and find out it was over 10%. There was one family that built a decking area, and because of the orientation of the housing and the fact they’re all juxtaposed, the planning officer thought the area was too large and was overlooking another house. John Broome had to dig out the extract of the original file saying anything up to 10% could be added on and when the inspector returned after an appeal he just said, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, this is a unique scheme”. Is there constantly a lot of building activity on the street? Yes there are always bits and pieces going on and people are doing much of it themselves. Anyone with some skill can do these sorts of things, especially with power tools these days. What about plumbing and wiring? Well I’ve re-plumbed half the house with the plastic screw fix systems. It’s straightforward – under the floor and between the walls. Do you think there is a greater sense of community cohesion on the street than on an ordinary estate? There are only four original self-builders on the street and some of them are getting quite old, but be-
cause everyone worked together and because the road is private it has to be maintained by the estate so there is a yearly meeting. When we moved in all the kids were playing in the street and there was a yearly street party. Those kids have all grown and become teenagers or moved out and some have had their own kids who are also now playing in the street. In summer all the doors are open, people are moving in and out of each others houses...odd tinny in the street for the adults! I noticed there is a barbecue at the bottom of the road! Yes, we also have a harvest festival afternoon; people come up with lots of ideas. Life revolves around people in the street. We’re very grateful for it. Kids can go out in the Street and play just like that as streets used to be which is quite unusual in London nowadays. It’s a very important thing and why people want to come and live here and be here and be part of that community. Do you know if anyone used acquired skills to go away and build other Segal houses or enter the construction industry? Yeah the guy next door works as a building contractor on Segal houses and other-out-of-the-ordinary buildings. He’s done quite a lot of them including some featured on grand designs and one in Clapham that was feat in the guardian. And our other neighbour has done some consultancy on self-build. So yeah, people have gone on to do other things. It’s a small market but they’ve benefitted. I’ve used the skills myself to build a compost toilet building on the allotments using the Segal system. Just bolted together a frame and filled it in with corrugated iron...job done. It’s a simple concept that anyone can take on and other people on the allotments thought oh that’s a nice building we’ll use that design as well. Where are your allotments? Are they street amenity? They are just over the other side of the main road. No, they are a Lewisham area thing, but there are four families from the street who own one. At the start it was an equity-sharing scheme where people owned a percentage depending on how many hours they put in? Do you know what the situation is now? Each house is a freehold. There is other self builds where they rent but these are freehold.
Ballesteros, M (2008), Verb Crisis, Barcelona, Actar, pp. Blundell-Jones P., Petrescu, D. and Till, J. (ed), Architecture and Participation, London, Spon Press, 2005 Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp. Hughes, J and Sadler, S (2000), Non Plan: essays on freedom participation and change in modern architecture and urbanism, City, Architectural Press, pp. Saxena, A (2009), Spatial appropriation as a means to ‘citizenship’, MArch dissertation, University of Sheffield Segal, W (1983), Walter Segal: Learning From The Self-Builders, PAV 8301, London, Pidgeon Audio Visual (cassette with slides) Turner, J F C and Fichter R (1972); Freedom To Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process, New York, Macmillan Ward, C (1984), Arcadia For All, Oxford, Alexandrine Press Ward, C (1984), Housing: An Anarchist Approach, London, Freedom Press
Arnstein, Sherry R.(1969) ‘A Ladder Of Citizen Participation’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216 — 224 Cruz, T (2008), Border translations: urbanism beyond the property line, Praxis, p. 92-99, Issue no.10, 2008 Kapp, S, Baltazar, A P, Morado, D (2008), Architecture as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alternative Practices, Field Journal (www.field-journal.org), vol.2 (1) McKean, J (1989), Learning from Segal, Basel, Birkenhauser Verlag Wheat, S (Feb.2001), A Home Of One’s Own, Geographical, Circle Publishing Ltd
Cruz, T, Border Cities: Tactics of Encroachment (2008)UCTV, University of California Television recorded, lecture, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0saEe0caJ8&feature=youtube_gdata.%3C%2Fa%3E%3C%2Fp%3E, accessed 29/04/11 Green, C, Paxton Court, http://www.greenart.info/Paxton%20Court/Paxton%20Court%20Sheffield.html accessed 29/04/11 Oâ€™Connor, R (Nov.2009), http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/construction_ and_property/article6922311.ece, accessed 28/2/2011, News Article The Incremental House, Chile, Quinta Monroy, http://incrementalhouse.blogspot.com/2008/10/chilequinta-monroy.html, accessed 29/4/11 Incremental Housing In India, http://www.styleofdesign.com/2009/05/incremental-housing-strategy-inindia-filipe-balestra-sara-goransson/accessed 29/04/11 MOMA, Small Scale Big Change, http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/smallscalebigchange/ accessed 29/04/11 Quinta Monroy Incremental Housing, http://openarchitecturenetwork.org/projects/dlygad2_quintamonroy, accessed 29/4/11 Spatial Agency, Patrick Bouchain, http://www.spatialagency.net/database/why/ecological/bouchain, accessed 29/04/11 Waldorf, C, In Conversation with Teddy Cruz, http://canopycanopycanopy.com/7/learning_from_tijuana, accessed 29/04/11
Image Sources & Credits chapter 1
figure 1.1 figure 1.2 figure 1.3 figure 1.4 figure 1.5 figure 1.6 figure 1.7 figure 1.8
Alan Baggley http://www.open2.net/modernity/jpgs/parkhill1_lrg.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pruitt-igoe_collapse-series.jpg http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/Pruitt-igoeUSGS02.jpg http://www.housingnews.co.uk/enews/images/Barratt_HCA_Hanham%20Hall.jpg http://www.spatialagency.net/database/the.plotlanders Blundell-Jones P., Petrescu, D. and Till, J. (ed), Architecture and Participation, London, Spon Press, 2005, pp.133 http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Uy30uQo4WGU/SjfXeyuqyiI/AAAAAAAAAPQ/nWmuaI0r6LA/s400/Dharavi_Aerial.JPG http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dharavi_Slum_in_Mumbai.jpg
figure 1.9 chapter 2
figure 2.1 figure 2.2 figure 2.3 figure 2.4 figure 2.5 figure 2.6 figure 2.7 figure 2.8 figure 2.9 figure 2.10
figure 3.1 figure 3.2 figure 3.3 figure 3.4 figure 3.5 figure 3.6 figure 3.7 figure 3.8 figure 3.9 figure 3.10 figure 3.11 figure 3.12 figure 3.13
Arnstein, Sherry R.(1969) ‘A Ladder Of Citizen Participation’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216 — 224 Alan Baggley Blundell-Jones P., Petrescu, D. and Till, J. (ed), Architecture and Participation, London, Spon Press, 2005, pp.131 http://www.legrandensemble.com/albums.html http://www.legrandensemble.com/albums.html Kapp, S, Baltazar, A P, Morado, D (2008), Architecture as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alternative Practices, Field Journal (www.field-journal.org), vol.2 (1), pp.28 The Segal method [timber-frame construction, The Architects’ Journal, 45/1986, , J. Broome. http://hemi.nyu.edu/hemi/images/e-misferica/7.1_images/e71_lg_Cruz_11.jpg http://hemi.nyu.edu/hemi/images/e-misferica/7.1_images/e71_lg_Cruz_01.jpg http://www.archdaily.com/21465/incremental-housing-strategy-in-india-filipe-balestra-sara-goransson/ Adam Roberts Adam Roberts Adam Roberts http://www.segalselfbuild.co.uk/about_files/walter-ken.jpg Broome, J and Richardson, R (1996), The Self-Build Book: how to enjoy designing and building your own home, Devon, Green Earth Books, pp.199 Ibid. pp. 195 Ibid. pp. 67 Adam Roberts Adam Roberts Adam Roberts Adam Roberts Adam Roberts Adam Roberts
Image Sources & Credits chapter 3 [cont.]
figure 3.14 figure 3.15 figure 3.16 figure 3.17 figure 3.18 figure 3.19 figure 3.20 figure 3.21 figure 3.22 figure 3.23 figure 3.24 figure 3.25 figure 3.26 figure 3.27 figure 3.28 figure 3.29 figure 3.30 figure 3.31 figure 3.32 figure 3.33 figure 3.34 figure 3.35
figure 3.36 figure 3.37 - 3.45 chapter 4
figure 4.1 figure 4.2
Adam Roberts Alan Baggley [Image by Cedric Green] Alan Baggley [Image by Cedric Green] Adam Roberts Alan Baggley Adam Roberts http://bombsite.com/images/attachments/0002/0076/Davis_02_body.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSWepTJ5I/AAAAAAAAAmU/Rf9LaNS2vRE/s1600-h/Bgarage-door-house.jpg http://blog.redfin.com/losangeles/files/2008/05/mcmansion.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maquiladora.JPG http://hemi.nyu.edu/hemi/images/e-misferica/7.1_images/e71_lg_Cruz_11.jpg http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSWfGhwaYI/AAAAAAAAAmc/EVF6Jy9wRbU/s1600-h/ Bgarage-door-truck.jpg http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSbuEWi4bI/AAAAAAAAAn0/PYLwmDdfTgM/s1600-h/ Btire-wall.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSXNgXv9vI/AAAAAAAAAnE/C14YYBuLKCA/s1600-h/ Bpallet-house.jpg http://thefunambulistdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/teddycruz.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSXNhNPmLI/AAAAAAAAAm8/LJVJJcdgZ58/s1600-h/ Bmaterials-arrive.jpg http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSZtGU_OzI/AAAAAAAAAns/Lu7oJY-D8nE/s1600-h/Bsetting-up.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSfCGmRSLI/AAAAAAAAAn8/2rJtvc7NtLU/s1600-h/Bthepiece.jpg http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_tEwpA8nFTxw/SSSZs89RzWI/AAAAAAAAAnk/SMqFGtrlYIs/s1600-h/Bsetup-houses.jpg http://ebookbrowse.com/f07-wk-norm-iacobelli02-pdf-d79878504 http://ebookbrowse.com/f07-wk-norm-iacobelli02-pdf-d79878504 before http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_czteD57iy60/SPjlZNKlTAI/AAAAAAAAAzo/D3Py58ei8iQ/s1600 -h/060725_elevacion+calle+galvarino_1er+tramo.jpg during http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_czteD57iy60/SPjmAPkemsI/AAAAAAAAA0g/CPGFnbtKacY/s1600 h/galvarinosteetnewsm.jpg after http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_czteD57iy60/SPjptBi0HXI/AAAAAAAAA1g/0Cf4LNCSEgk/s1600 h/PedroPradoELEVsm.jpg http://www.elementalchile.cl/viviendas/quinta-monroy/quinta-monroy/# http://www.archdaily.com/21465/incremental-housing-strategy-in-india-filipe-balestra-sara-goransson/ Adam Roberts Adam Roberts
A Special Study written by Adam Roberts while studing for a BA in Architecture at the University of Sheffield.
Published on May 24, 2011
A Special Study written by Adam Roberts while studing for a BA in Architecture at the University of Sheffield.