Architects Negotiating Domesticity

Dr. Cathelijne Nuijsink


Cross-Cultural Explorations of “House” and “Home”

This project studies the paradox inherent in the custom-designed house. A precise translation of the specific domestic arrangements of one particular family, ‘architect-designed house’ is often inscribed into wider socio-historical public discourse on modes of domesticity and family life. This research project thus investigates the architect-designed house, which both gives form to intense theoretical examination and is the product of this discourse. The project focuses on ‘nodes’ (publications, exhibitions, lectures, competitions, writings, and meetings) in a large network of international architectural encounters, where architects, clients and builders hold intense discussions on what makes a good house at a particular time and place. The project examines how these discussions have impacted the design of actual houses.


The methodological approach adopted for this project relies on tracing the role of particular houses in architectural discussions, and demonstrates the generative role that the case study houses played in the discursive space of the housing debate, where house design triggers an interchange of words between multiple participants. Although the house design may be the work of a single architecture firm, a progressive design for a single house can become a driver for a much broader debate. Also, discursive space signifies a body of opinion from one architecture firm, compressed in this case into a (single) act of building. Studying how the fundamental notions of ‘house’ and ‘home’ have been continuously redefined in response to sociopolitical and cultural changes, across time and place, this project not only reveals how the ‘house’ has plays a pivotal role in the international exchange of architectural ideas, but also investigates the possibilities of domestic space, in global terms.

Cover of Toshi Jūtaku, April 1970 © Shinkenchiku-sha

This research has been funded by the Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Cecilia Segawa Seigle Grants