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AR July/August 2019 on AR House + Social housing

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General Design Co | Collectif Encore | David Leech Architects | AZL Architects | MORQ | Kochi Architect’s Studio | Lacaton & Vassal | Balkrishna Doshi | Instituto Balear de la Vivienda | Alberto Kalach + TAX | Comunal | Rozana Montiel | Peter Barber Architects | Lacol | Rogelio Salmona | Minnette De Silva | Typology: Palace

Click here to get a copy of our AR House + Social housing issue

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The house is architecture’s test bed, ‘constantly pushing against the boundaries of how we live’. This double issue features the results of this year’s AR House awards – the winning project, General Design Co’s house in Kamitomii, Japan, challenges the country’s tendency to always build anew. The winner is joined by Collectif Encore’s Hamra Studio residence in Gotland, and David Leech Architects’ Hollybrook Grove in Dublin, which were both highly commended, while an additional three projects are commended: Cloister House in Perth by Australian architects MORQ, Song House in Shanghai by AZL Architects and – returning to Japan – Strip House in Aichi by Kochi Architect’s Studio. Find out more about the prize winners here and view the full shortlist of 15 dwellings here.

But when houses – or in the case of this month’s Typology on palaces by Tom Wilkinson – are seen as status symbols and repositories of capital, the fetishisation of dream homes can feel like a distraction from the plight of providing adequate housing for all. ‘As long as there are houses, house porn will always be,’ Cath Slessor ruminates in this month’s excoriating Outrage column, ‘But cities continue to be hollowed out by a lack of affordable housing.’

In the second half of the issue, we build a picture of social housing around the world with seven case studies, both new and old, from the UK, France, Spain, Mexico, Colombia and India. We look back at the work of Lacaton & Vassal – winners of this year’s Mies van der Rohe award – and London-based practice Peter Barber Architects, and investigate what lessons might be learned from Rogelio Salmona’s Nueva Santa Fe in Bogotá and Balkrishna Doshi’s Aranya low-cost housing in Indore. In our Reputations feature, we look to Sri Lankan architect Minnette de Silva whose career traversed the typologies of home-making: from small villas to the sprawling and ambitious 1958 public housing scheme in Kandy which went on to be the model for housing schemes in Sri Lanka.

While unlikely that a single solution will provide the answers, the key could be in the trialling of various prototypes. Rafael Gómez-Moriana investigates the low-carbon construction of a prototype of 14 social housing units on the Spanish island of Formentera by civil-servant architects IBAVI, while Juan Carlos Cano surveys social housing in Mexico following the devastation of large earthquakes in 1985 and again in 2017. Designing the spaces where we live has always been a challenge for both the civic and social imagination, and it is more and more urgently felt today as the plethora of projects featured in this issue attest. The full table of contents is available here.