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Domesticity and Attachment: A Study of House, Home, Family and Object in an Age of Social Alienation

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Eleanor Wells
Oxford Brookes University Oxford UK
British Housing is amongst some of the most dilapidated in Western Europe (Keiller, 2000) and contemporary architectural interest has been directed more towards large scale buildings, with the domestic being neglected. Our patterns of living have changed drastically over the last 50 years but our houses have stayed relatively the same. Arguably there are social, ethical and physical reasons why the houses that we have, and are building now, are not suitable for contemporary and future living.

This is a study of people and their homes, of the everyday and the domestic. Much of this research has emerged from Patrick Keiller’s film The Dilapidated Dwelling (2000), Daniel Miller’s studies into people’s relationships with objects (2008) and Akiko Busch’s writing about the realms of home (1992). There is a complexity, originality and personality to people’s homes that architects cannot force or mimic.

The line of enquiry of this dissertation is followed through the medium of layered collages, or Developed Surface Drawings, which depict and investigate primary research and information gathered. They become a reflexive research tool in themselves. Conclusions are drawn and dispersed amongst the images as they are identified, so that the methodology becomes a discursive process.

The design proposal is for a collaged architecture, which builds over time. Conclusions drawn from research are translated into modest infill strategies for an existing 1970s housing estate. ‘Collage’ refers to the action of cutting and pasting into the site, reflective of the method of research, using actions of cutting, casting, tracing and erasing. This is applied right through to the design detailing and the dissertation has the same approach.

Issues of community, society and control pervade this paper, together with ideas of human creativity and of the physical and the virtual. Consumer Society has been taught the value of the large and iconographic, the quantifiable, but perhaps it is just as, if not more important appreciate the small-scale, individuals and relationships and the humanity of attachment.

References: Miller, D. (2008). The Comfort of Things. Cambridge : Polity Press
Busch, A. (1992). Geography of Home: writings on where we live. New York, NY : Princeton Architectural Press
The Dilapidated Dwelling (2000) [DVD] Patrick Keiller. UK : Illuminations for Channel4

Eleanor Wells

Ms Tonia Carless
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