Housing for empowerment : more than just a place to eat, sleep, and watch TV

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Krenzke, Shaun R.
Dotson, Olon F.
Swartz, Andrea M.
Cruz, German T.
Woodfin, C. Daniel
Issue Date
Thesis (M. Arch.)
Department of Architecture
Other Identifiers

I began this investigation by asking a question. What is a possible design solutionthat can enable people who live-in or seek-out affordable housing to inhabit a structure that is more than a shelter, but a place they are proud to return to, bring friends to, and live in?The first portion of this thesis documents the need for affordable housing in the United States. Franklin Roosevelt, in 1944 before United States Congress, listed one of the economic rights of every citizen to be, "the right of every family to a decent home." Less money is being spent building new affordable housing or maintaining existing housing than at any other time in our history. The need for affordable housing continues to grow while the amount of available units continues to decline. There will always be a need for affordable housing in the United States. Some people will move out, but there will be new people with a need. I believe housing should be more than merely shelter. The rundown big box affordable housing we are all familiar with does not empower the people who occupy it to live their lives or easily better themselves. They are isolated in location and by negative connotation. There are a growing number of architects who have taken on the challenge to help people to better themselves, when they are unable to themselves. The four architectural precedents that are documented in the second portion of this thesis have dedicated their lives and abilities to creating better affordable housing that aids in allowing citizens, reguardless of race, ethnicity, or income (economic status), to benefit from their physical environment. Examples of each architectural firm's work are presented. I examine the design and participatory processes that enabled the architects to empower the people who live in their well-designed affordable housing.The final portion of this thesis focuses on stating and justifying seventeen design principles to enable people to create decent affordable housing based on the research and interviews. These principles investigate the ideas of being human, giving the sense of ownership to the people who live in affordable housing, being contextually respectful to one's neighborhood and community, being environmentally friendly, being modifiable or changeable for the different people who live in it over time, and respecting each family's specific story and enabling them to express their life and lifestyle. This thesis expresses the design principles of housing for empowerment.