Tarsha Finney presented research work to the MArch Urban Design Program at the Bartlett, UCL in February 2013.

The Regularity of the Plan: Carnality, Dynamism and the Status of the Line.

A series of new publications examining multi-residential housing have been released over the last 10 years that call for the return of the housing project as ‘generator of the city.’  Common to many of these is a critique of the spatial performance of the plan of the single family dwelling. Referencing Robin Evans seminal 1978 essay Figures Doors and Passages, each publication makes a call for either a return to an ‘ambiguity’ in the plan following Evans, such that it can accommodate many ways of dwelling and in so doing slipping out from under what is claimed to be the ‘functionalist’ burden of housing. Or, there is an argument made for an intensified specificity in the plan’s spatial performance and response to shifting need. Based on life stage and cycle, this second argument asks that the inhabitant move from house to house as circumstances change, putting an end to the ideal of a family house for life.

What is predicating each argument though is a call for a new dynamism: either in the subject of the domestic, or in the spatial performance of the plan.

Leaving aside Evans’ emphasis on carnality, and taking instead his insight into the graphic realm of architecture’s material practice and the plan itself, since the late 19th century and with the insertion of the new scale of the domestic into the urban fabric of the city, it is the regularity of the plan of the single family dwelling that is striking.

 

Evans “we have not yet the courage to confront the ordinary……”*

* R. (1978). Figures, Doors and Passages. Translations From Drawing to Building and other Essays. R. Evans. London, Architectural Association.