How to House

In Sociology, Housing is not just materialistically manifested, it is understood as product and producer of social relations. It is embedded into society, its discourses, practices, imaginings and negotiations. Thus, Housing is not self-contained but embedded into historical processes, materialities and developments.

In the twentieth century, Housing formed an opposite to the exhausting wage labour – serving a space of privacy and intimacy for resting and recovery. Therefore, the ideal type of the modern dwelling exists in relation to the constitution of work, dwelling represents the regenerating, private space opposite to the public and society (see Hannemann 2010 & 2014).

The core of this conception is the so-called nuclear family, which wouldn’t be imaginable before the second world war. Its composition is the initial point or the necessity for today’s widespread single-family homes and apartments. Also, preconceptions about gender and the constellation and functionality of families are embedded into the architecture of the passed 20th century (see Ripley 2018).

Working conditions, economic situation, growing cities and the living unit “nuclear-family” produced a housing typology, which is now widespread available on the housing market. This historical formed typology can be understood as a dispositive, in Foucault’s words: „an heterogenous ensemble, comprising discourses, institutions, architectural arrangements, regulating decisions, laws, administrative provisions, scientific statements as well as philosophical, moral and philanthrophic theorems, in short: the said and the un-said“ (Foucault 1978: 119, transl. KM).

Bildquelle: KD Busch

The whole City is shaped by these formations of Housing which proposed a solution for the questions of certain living conditions. Now these shapes of Housing lead to new questions:

From Barcelona to Berlin, people and politics are worried about rising rents (the widespread way in cities to maintain a housing), and propose different solutions: whether expropriating empty flats or appropriating a five year rent freeze (see: In France as well, new solutions are attempted by the low- and medium-income population: mutual housing represents a third way to private or public housing and is expected to open new modes of financing, building or experiencing.

But not just the prices rise new questions, the size of living space and its content is renegotiated in new forms of housing: as working conditions change and single households get more common, shared flats or smaller apartments are highly demanded. Mobility and Sharing are ”re”-invented, ideas such as the tiny house become contemporary desires (see: If they propose a sustainable solution is questionable.

Sources/ Additional Readings:

Menu, Flavien 2018: New Commons for Europe. Leipzig, Spektor

Teige, Karel 2002: The Minimum Dwelling. Cambridge, MIT

Schmitt, Gisela; Ginsky, Sarah; Koller, Barbara 2012: IBA Berlin 2020. Kurzüberblick/Projektrecherche „Besondere Wohnformen“. Aachen, RTWH

Hannemann, Christine 2010: Heimischsein, Übernachten und Residieren – wie das Wohnen die Stadt verändert, in: APuZ 17/2010 (

Hannemann, Christine 2014: Zum Wandel des Wohnens, in APuZ 20-21/2014 (

Ripley, Colin 2018: Strategies for living in houses, in Gorny, R. & van den Heuvel, D. (Eds.), Trans-Bodies / Queering Spaces [Special issue]. Footprint ,21.

Foucault, Michel 1978: Dispositive der Macht. Berlin, Merve

Circular Nr. 3 2018: 4-9 (


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