Manchester studio’s Rodrigo O’Malley asks if our current housing crisis is, in many aspects, a reflection of our professional failure to critically engage with space and society. In an era of ecological crisis and technological revolution, is it time to imagine new urbanism paradigms from the inside out and urbanising from the living room?
Ikea's advertising campaigns vividly portray the unfolding of rich spatial narratives in ways that are seldom reflected in the strategies and visions of today's 'industry of urbanism'. With its recent design for a flat pack refugee house, the Swedish company has created an intriguing relationship between the global furnishing of homes and a contemporary geopolitical crisis. Domestic interiors linked to the geography of displacement through the double meaning of comfort.
This seamless shift of scales is unsurprising and, after all, implied in the contrasting definitions of the verb to dwell. In fact, it illustrates how the creation of meaningful habitats has to be based on a relevant relationship between the intimacy of interior spaces and the expansive nature of open landscapes. The city can then be read as the interface between house and territory.
©Inter IKEA Systems B.V 2016
The refugee shelter, ©better shelter
From this perspective, models of urbanisation where the home ceases to be at the heart of cities irremediably lead to unsustainable and dislocated urban environments. Our current housing crisis is, in many aspects, symptomatic of this, and a reflection of our professional failure to critically engage with space and society. In an era of ecological crisis and technological revolution, isn't it time to imagine new urbanism paradigms from the inside out? Urbanising from the living room!
…Change Begins at Home. The time for Domestic Reform is Now! Assemble Yourself. Home is the Most Important Place in the World.*
* Slogans for Ikea advertising campaigns, present and past.