Year: 2016
Type: Research; #ongoing
Collaborators: Cem Kayatekin, Jane A. Dier; Team: Anna Pikovska, Olga Senchurova;


With the appearance of the internet and new media we have the technological means to engage in a much richer discourse concerning the act of dwelling and the architecture that supports it. Real estate, however, has always been slow to react to change – we still heavily rely on modernist, top-down method of thinking in the way residential architecture is being produced today. Statistics-based development of some set typologies has been the best way to tailor the built environment for the needs of the society of Pre-Information Age, yet nowadays we seem to have more powerful tools.


As a result of this project the method of describing housing was developed. The proposed method is based on decomposed, primitive variables such as activities and public-to-private gradients. The developed language could help describe housing and enrich the discourse about a residential space.

The set of residential spaces were examined in this study. The spaces were looked at from the perspective of a user – the focus was on real life dwelling scenarios that were happening at those places. During this study, we gradually developed the vocabulary to talk about life at a certain residential space. Following are the components of this vocabulary – the set of concepts that we uncovered while searching for the essence of the process of dwelling.



Activities were found to be a cornerstone to describe life in a certain space. Clear and easy to talk about, activities are in the essence of the need for a residential space. «I mostly use my place to sleep» or «I need a private room to be alone and work» – these types of statements indicate how activities might be a robust, instinctive method to describe life at a certain space. The activities, as they would be happening, were documented and mapped on corresponding plans.


It was found essential to introduce the dichotomy of private and public to better describe the activities. The dichotomy is presented in the form of a gradient, which allows one to talk about shades of public / private instead of a binary division (which would be not enough to describe the feeling one has while enjoying the sun in a public square or a courtyard, sitting on a balcony, reading at a kitchen or playing guitar in a bedroom).


In terms of definitions of those extremes, we call activities 100% private when they involve only one person; and activities in which uncountable numbers of individuals take part in, we call 100% public. Having activities mapped, and knowing how public/private they were according to suggested definitions made it possible to paint plans with the gradients – the darker the color gets the more private space is.


Used as a traditional way to represent the physical structure of a space, floorplans are supplemented with charts – public-to-private gradient with activities on it, as a vehicle of telling a story about scenarios of life at a certain place.



While further examining the six-floor plans with corresponding charts, it was noted that each place has from two to three major thresholds – places where the different indicators of private and public come together and are separated by something e.g., a door or a screen. The thresholds define zones with relatively monotonous indicators of public/private.


In the end, with a help of such concepts as activities, private-to-public gradients, charts and thresholds we produced a set of case studies. Each case study narrates a story about life at a certain place and consists of a plan painted with gradients, a chart, a zones diagram and short information about the context.