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THE PLAN Journal (TPJ) intends to disseminate and promote innovative, thought-provoking and relevant research, studies and criticism in architecture and urbanism. The criteria for selecting contributions will be innovation, clarity of purpose and method, and potential transformational impact on disciplinary fields or the broader socio-cultural context. The ultimate purpose of the TPJ is to enrich the dialog between research and professional fields, in order to encourage both applicable new knowledge and intellectually driven modes of practice. (Maurizio Sabini)

Latest Articles

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Essay

The Right to Housing: Architectural Composition as a Solution

by: Claudio Meninno VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 20 published: 2023-01-25

Housing is one of the main themes related to the creation of the city and plays a central role in the definition about how people live together. The development of new living strategies face many different fields of interest: urban planning, economy, social sciences, ecology, sustainability, technology. Architectural composition plays a central role in the definition of how all these matters can coexist and how it is possible to increase urban density and people’s quality of life. The analysis of Louis Sauer’s work on low-rise high-density houses outlines a solution useful for a variety of situations. Higher urban density makes it possible to increase real estate income from investments and, consequently, to increase the architectural quality of the buildings as well as the urban landscape. It gives a tangible answer to many aspects related to urban sustainability making the city more compact, reusing brownfields instead of greenfields, facilitating pedestrian cycle mobility or the use of public transport instead of private cars, and thus helping to reduce urban pollution and the use of natural resources.

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Article

Five Esthetics of the Global Development Industry: Building Low-Cost Housing in Rwanda

by: Yutaka Sho VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 26 published: 2023-01-25

This paper argued that, in parallel to financial feasibility, the esthetics play a powerful role in swaying the donation and investments away from low-cost housing projects in the development context. The paper analyzes the development industry’s structure and its players and asks how architects could ally with the End Users by understanding their self-building practices. The architect in the global development industry works with at least five clients. They are the Funders (often from the global North), the Local Government (often in the global South), the Architectural Disciplines in the funder nations, the Local Building Sector, and the End Users. Our survey of 370 self-build homes in Rwanda attests that not all actors represent their values equally, and the End Users, the actor with little resource and leverage, may be rendered silent in this process although they have the most at stake. While the global development industry tries to eradicate self-building activities, the End Users continue to claim the built environment by tapping into their social capital, and share labor, materials, and knowledge. Their architecture simultaneously protests and participates in development.

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Article

Incremental Development Manual: Toward a Cooperative Model of Housing in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)

by: Joshua Bolchover , Jersey Poon VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 25 published: 2023-01-20

The population of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, has increased by 197% in the last twenty years, resulting in the creation of sprawling districts with no basic infrastructure that house over 60% of the city’s population. Current development plans are proving ineffective as they require huge investments toward land-owner compensation and infrastructure, and rely on developers for implementation. As an alternative, we have developed a strategic framework for sustainable and affordable district upgrading for these sites as an Incremental Development Manual. The manual offers a strategy for in situ development that accommodates incremental growth and collective improvements to residents’ shared plots. It operates on a small scale, working on the mutual benefits of four households working together as the basic unit for all further transformation. This paper will demonstrate how this strategy reflects the diversity of housing needs and incomes of ger district inhabitants, and discusses potential financial tools for housing and infrastructure provision, including the potential for cooperative development. 

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Article

Listening as a Methodology, Longevity as a Goal: London’s Tustin Estate Master Plan as a Case Study for Community-Led Design Development

by: Judith Stichtenoth , Ann Dingli VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 24 published: 2023-01-13

This essay explores the relationship between a group of design professionals, a community of residents, and a local council in the early stages of the Tustin Estate renewal project – a Master Plan and Phase One Regeneration for a south-east London post-war housing estate. In 2021, the estate’s residents voted in favor of demolishing and rebuilding its low-rise buildings in a residents’ ballot. This essay positions Tustin Estate’s engagement phase as a notable case study for community-led design, providing an overview of London’s introduction of resident ballots in estate development, leading onto the example of Tustin Estate’s ballot, which initiated its engagement strategy. Interviews with key members of the engagement process form the central research to this essay, which explores the role of ballots in estate regeneration; approaches to building authentic engagement; the importance of community ownership; and how listening enables knowledge transfer and creates a blueprint for longevity. The essay defines longevity as the culmination of design and build solutions based on principles drawn directly from residents’ needs, each of which being robust enough to avoid demolition for the long-term.

 Open Access
Article

Experimenting with Mass-Housing Regeneration: Two Pioneer Actions in Bolzano (Italy) as Part of the SINFONIA Project

by: Fabio Lepratto VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 24 published: 2023-01-19

The public housing sector in Italy faces a generalized crisis, which does not spare the issue of architectural and urban quality, both in the (relatively few) new buildings realized over the last three decades, and in increasingly frequent regeneration actions. The latter – the subject of this essay – generally do not go beyond conventional maintenance and are typically limited to applying essential technical solutions for energy efficiency. They miss the opportunity to update the building stock to address current housing needs. Against this backdrop, the case of SINFONIA – a five-year project financed by the European Union – represents a relevant exception. The paper presents two recent housing renovation actions developed within SINFONIA and conceived by AREA Architetti after winning two design competitions. Both actions interpret conversion in the most inventive ways, demonstrating an aptitude for a real aesthetic rethinking that changed the appearance of the buildings experimenting with two profoundly different design approaches: reinterpretation and metamorphosis. In presenting the two actions, this essay reflects on the procedure and design lessons to be learned from this experience for transfer to other situations. 

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Article

Surplus Land: How Architecture Can Transform Underutilized Public Properties into Affordable Housing

by: Lorcan O’Herlihy VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 7 published: 2023-01-13

As the cost of land becomes increasingly expensive, cities are posed to establish new ways of finding sites to encourage affordable housing and housing for people experiencing homelessness. Cities in California and across the US are looking to surplus land, or underutilized publicly owned land, as a resource to develop new housing. One of the obstacles with this effort is the inconsistency of the surplus land parcels. Challenges these sites might be facing can include a lack of zoning, contamination, and a lack of connection to residential or pedestrian-friendly zones. With surplus land presenting a viable option for developing new affordable housing, Architects will be a key component to reimaging these sites to contend with the challenges they face and to integrate this new land use into neighborhood contexts.

 Open Access
Position Paper

A Right to Housing: A Compelling Idea and an Elusive Reality

by: Rachel G. Bratt VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 11 published: 2023-01-10
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Article

The Watershed House: A Water Harvesting Prototype for Vulnerable Communities

by: Dahlia Nduom , Martín Paddack VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 17 published: 2023-01-17

A potential answer to the call for a human right to sustainable and equitable housing, water access, and environmental justice may be found in the wings of a desert beetle. This paper presents a housing prototype integrating various water harvesting strategies and biomimetic solutions derived from the Namib beetle. An exploration of issues at the intersection of water access and equitable housing is presented through a literature review that demonstrates how housing conditions, access, and affordability are linked to a lack of infrastructural services, including water, which has subsequent health implications. The paper reviews both passive and active water harvesting opportunities for architectural integration. The paper concludes with a description of the prototype through a case study addressing the housing and water access needs of colonias communities in Texas, and sheds light on water access and housing affordability challenges, proposing architectural and policy strategies to address these issues. The speculative housing prototype integrates water harvesting solutions using a prefabricated kit of parts approach allowing for flexibility and adaptability across various communities where centralized infrastructure is technically or economically not feasible.  

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Article

Central State Infill: Middle Housing Solutions in Oklahoma City, USA

by: Francesco Cianfarani VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 22 published: 2023-01-11

The essay discusses the urban form problem in contemporary American mid-size cities, and the relationships between urban growth and residential models, in the light of ongoing demographic, economic, and environmental phenomena. Rediscussing typical urban growth models in American cities is key for the sustainable future of these communities. In a time of significant climatic transformation, traditional city models must be updated to generate renewed climate-resilient urban forms. That means reducing waste heat and greenhouse gas emissions through compact neighborhoods that integrate energy efficiency with transit and walkability. The first part of the essay introduces the topic of urban growth in the United States. Ongoing urbanization is considered in relationship to emerging climate phenomena, change in demographics, and housing market trends. The second part discusses the current planning debate in Oklahoma City (OKC), one of the largest and most populated cities in Central United States. In addition, the essay presents a selection of recent infill housing developments for OKC’s urban core, discussing how they are contributing to the debate on sustainable urban growth in the city. 

 Open Access
Position Paper

The Right to Housing: A Holistic Perspective. From Concept to Advocacy, Policy, and Practice

by: Ron Shiffman VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 2 [The Right to Housing], Pages: 1 - 18 published: 2023-01-10

Featured Articles

 Open Access
Position Paper

Human Time as a Resource: Twelve Strategies for Re-thinking Urban Materiality

by: Anupama Kundoo VOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 2 [The Good Material], Pages: 305 - 322 published: 2021-11-30
 Open Access
CROSS-DISCIPLINARY STUDIES
Opinion

Baukultur in a Cybernetic Age: A Conversation

by: Michael A. Arbib , Meredith Banasiak , Bob Condia , Colin Ellard , Jonathan Enns , Melissa Farling , Robert Lamb Hart , Richard Hassell , Eduardo Macagno , Harry Mallgrave , Fred Marks , Juhani Pallasmaa , Sarah Robinson VOLUME 6/2021 - Issue 1 , Pages: 7 - 28 published: 2021-05-14

We received and we gladly publish this conversation among distinguished theorists and scholars on an important topic, also aligned with the cross-disciplinary mission of our journal. [MS]

 

ABSTRACT - The article offers a multi-author conversation charting the future of architecture in light of the apparent tension between Baukultur, which combines the culture of building and the building of this culture, and the rapid changes brought about by digital technology, embracing cybernetics and artificial intelligence. The article builds on a discussion of Baukultur to debate in what sense buildings are “machines for living in,” then examines neuromorphic architecture wherein cybernetic mechanisms help buildings sense the needs of their occupants. It closes with an example of a building complex, Kampung Admiralty, that combines cybernetic opportunities with a pioneering approach to building “community and biophilia” into our cities. This article interleaves an abridged version of Michael Arbib’s (2019) article “Baukultur in a Cybernetic Age,” 1 with extensive comments by the co-authors.

 Open Access
Position Paper

Gender Matters. The Grand Architectural Revolution

by: Dörte Kuhlmann, Guest-Editor VOLUME 4/2019 - Issue 2 [GENDER MATTERS], Pages: 273 - 279 published: 2020-02-07
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CRITICISM
Essay

Japanese Architecture Returns to Nature: Sou Fujimoto in Context

by: Botond Bognar VOLUME 7/2022 - Issue 1 , Pages: 7 - 36 published: 2022-05-16

We received and we gladly publish a contribution by distinguished author Prof. Botond Bognar. [MS]

 

ABSTRACT - The essay introduces the development of Sou Fujimoto’s architecture as it has been influenced by various sources and experiences leading to his recently completed and highly recognized major project, the  House of Hungarian Music in Budapest. Among these influences the contemporary economic and political conditions in Japan and beyond, as well as the nature-inspired work of prominent Japanese designers are discussed. Touching upon the seminal work by Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito, the essay also highlights the contrasts and occasional similarities between the so-called “White School” and “Red School” in contemporary Japanese architecture, in referencing nature as the primary source of their designs. Today, these “schools” are best represented, respectively, by the activities of SANAA and Kengo Kuma. Although Fujimoto’s architecture is clearly derivative and part of the radically minimalist White School, the House of Hungarian Music reveals an intimacy and richness 

in articulating its relationship to the surrounding natural environment, which quality, if perhaps momentarily, points beyond the minimalism of the “Whites.”

 Open Access
Opinion

Public Health Themes in Survival Through Design: A Son’s Appreciation

by: Raymond Richard Neutra VOLUME 5/2020 - Issue 2 [HEALTHY URBANISM], Pages: 289 - 295 published: 2020-11-23

Board