Courtesy of the Spitzer School of Architecture/City College
From March 21 until May 17, 2023, The Spitzer School of Architecture/City College presents the exhibition Mass Support: Flexibility and Resident Agency in Housing, which explores the legacy and contemporary relevance of the Stichting Architecten Research (SAR), an architectural think tank active in the Netherlands between 1964 and 1990 that proposed a radical new way of thinking about mass housing. Initially led by John Habraken, the SAR suggested new functions for the construction industry, for households, and, crucially, for architects.
An online symposium, a companion to the exhibition, will be held Wednesday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The symposium focuses on flexibility, resident input, and modular building in contemporary architecture, exposing participants to the under-examined interface of robust community engagement and innovative construction technology. A Zoom link will be made available at ssa.ccny.cuny.edu.
Around the world, cities are experiencing a profound, international housing emergency. While we need many new ideas to address the condition, availability, and attainability of shelter globally, we also need to examine the promise and pitfalls of overlooked knowledge from the recent past. After premiering at Eindhoven Technical University (TU/e) in the summer 2022, an updated version of this exhibition will travel to the Spitzer School of Architecture at City College, City University of New York (CCNY) in the spring of 2023. An international, virtual symposium on flexibility, resident input, and modular building in contemporary, residential architecture will complement and extend the exhibition’s themes, exposing students, academics, and practitioners to the under-examined interface of robust community engagement and innovative construction technology.
The first iteration of Mass Support presented a wealth of archival material to survey both the context and the outputs of the SAR. A selection of drawings, models, project photos, and texts tell the story of this bold experiment to reshape housing production and, eventually, to reimagine architecture and industrial construction more broadly.
The second iteration will complement this material by bringing together a diverse range of contemporary built projects, design proposals, and provocative research and advocacy efforts that demonstrate the contemporary relevance of the SAR’s pathbreaking work: innovative strategies of resident consultation, the rehabilitation of social housing, and the underexplored interface between community engagement and prefabricated, modular construction.
Models, plans, posters, photographs, and video will illuminate how the significance of these projects go beyond showcasing advances in construction technology to reveal how newly appreciated synergies between robust resident consultation and incremental approaches to residential architecture can help address the overlapping crises of housing and the climate.
The exhibition and symposium are the products of a unique collaboration between the Spitzer School of Architecture at CCNY, the Architectural League of New York, and the Curatorial Research Collective of the TU/e.