Date of Award
Master of Architecture (MArch)
Housing insecurity is arguably the most pressing issue in our society. In the United States, home/land ownership has been the primary source to generate wealth. Yet, so many people are disproportionately affected and denied access due to this system. Historically, it has also been difficult for people of color to own their own property and receive adequate housing in viable neighborhoods. A person’s ability to obtain quality housing affects other areas of their lives; it affects their ability to attend school in a certain district, and their proximity to work, healthcare, and entertainment. Interventions from both the public and private sectors over the past several decades have yielded (at best) mixed results. Continued privatization of land contributes to skyrocketing rent prices and is making it more onerous to find quality housing, let alone own property. What does the future of housing entail moving forward? What alternatives can be imagined and what role do architects play in imagining and creating a better, more sustainable outcome?
Architects are more than designers, so the profession bears a responsibility to transform the outdated and ineffective approach to housing. With the amount of capital, land, and underutilized built space that is available, no one should be unhoused. No one should have to struggle to search for an affordable place to live, and no one should feel underrepresented in the home they live in.
The subject of housing is a critical part of architectural discourse because it is one of the most common elements the general public associates with architecture. Before architecture became an institutionalized profession, humans built their homes using the environmental resources around them. Housing is one of the fundamental pillars of architecture that impacts everyone regardless of their relation to the profession. Given the current housing crisis in the U.S. and around the world, architects should be involved in the solution; it is not a time for architects to cower behind the rhetoric that “architecture is not political.” Architects are responsible for the well-being of the public, and part of that well-being is having access to appropriate, affordable housing.
Therefore, my thesis explores the limitations of the architecture profession and pushes those limitations so the profession extends beyond the current capital driven designer-client.
Olowa, Uthman, "The De-centering of Architecture" (2023). Masters Theses. 1053.
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