Homework: Elements of Transformation, a catalog of transformable spaces that accommodate work in the confines of home, 2021.

This research was conducted as part of a seminar at UIC Architecture in Spring of 2021. It examines spatial paradigms that accommodate work and other non-domestic acts. As the health crisis has radically repositioned the spatial parameters of urban life, the home has reemerged as an all-encompassing territory. While many have adapted (at least in a makeshift fashion) to work, study, recreate, and live from home; for many others, work cannot be accommodated in the confines of their apartments or houses, which further exacerbates social, economic, and racial inequalities. But, not working from home is a rather recent phenomenon, associated with the divisions of labor and the industrialization of production. Pre-19th century, most production took place at or in the proximity of home. From the medieval longhouse to the Chinese Tulou and Japanese Machiya, the home was more often than not associated with work. In the West, the advent of factories would shift these traditional parameters by the 18th century, when production processes began to be streamlined and buildings and towns were constructed around it. By the end of the 19th century, industrialized processes, specializations, and mechanizations had all but divorced living from work. And, the notion of the “functional city” that was crafted by the CIAM conferences, accounted for the distance between the factory and the home. Yet, simultaneously, we also witness speculations on “minimum dwelling” where adjustable elements accommodate multiple programs through mechanisms such as sliding walls, hidden rooms, drapes, screens, terraces, and bridges, which are able to instantaneously and dramatically adjust space. While today many of these solutions are forgotten, the research seeks to unearth, take stock, evaluate, and catalog these inventions in an attempt to ask how some of these innovations might help us with our current predicaments to work where we live and live where we work.

For research elaborations on the topic of domestic work, see “Homework: Elements of Housing.”

Research Catalog:

Research Team: Brendon Abuya, Averie Allen, Sean Conway, Jeremy Gould, Pengming Guo, Marjorie Hoxie, Wanqi Li, Marc Rosenfeld, Joseph Rosso, Sofia Siavichay, Melania Sitko, David Zuccarelli

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