Innovation Grant from the Humanities Institute at UIC awarded for the research and conference “At Home with the Collective,” 2021-2022.
While the research is ongoing since 2019, a conference is planned for Fall 2022. It centers on the topic of collective housing in the US through a historical, architectural, and urban lens. The urgency of the topic manifests in the current housing crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the global pandemic. After all, the lack of affordable housing in the US is the main reason for homelessness (currently approximated at 580,000), half of all renters are cost-burdened, and nearly 2/3 of people cannot afford to buy a home. Today, the US lacks about 6.8 million apartments, which it would need to combat current housing needs and replace homes that were destroyed during disasters intensified by environmental crises. Reasons for this shortfall of homes are multifold but key components include: restrictive regulation that center on single-family homes, lot-size limitations, parking requirements, and spatial layouts that no longer conform to current needs. While this clearly implicates architecture and urbanism, the notion of simply building more housing has made no difference in the past ten years. A historical and multi-disciplinary understanding of collective housing is needed in order to test new theories and methodologies, foster public engagements, and expose alternatives to the current crisis in housing. This conference, therefore, includes a roster of ten speakers from very different fields (from historians, architects, and planners to the mayor’s office of LA and the director of the National Public Housing Museum). Each panelist will present a thirty-minute lecture on collective housing with topics ranging from historical analysis of worker’s union involvement in social housing in Chicago and New York, to efforts in low-cost housing in the San Francisco (the city with the highest overall construction cost in the world), to architectural inquiries of historical and contemporary rethinkings of home, and to typologies of dwelling that adopt to non-domestic acts that might even accommodate the collective in the confines of home.