What is do-it-yourself architecture?
Self-building is a challenge not only in terms of material, economic, regulatory and bureaucratic difficulties, it is a challenge to oneself. It requires the desire and the ability to recognize one's own limits, to overcome one's own prejudices, to put aside one's own ego in favour of the ability to listen to the needs of others.
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Does architecture have to obey, deny, or subvert the logic of the housing market?
Countless architects and architectural theorists have tried to answer this question since soon after the Second World War. A seemingly simple question, but one that goes beyond the boundaries of the professional role of architects – challenging practices, habits and the establishment.
What is do-it-yourself architecture? Is it an isolated phenomenon, autonomous and disconnected from the usual practice of the profession? Is it mainly related to experiments and research, or to developing countries and to small buildings? Is the recent proliferation of examples of self-building in the international scene a phenomenon related to the economic crisis, to the difficulties of youth in entering the job market, or to the desire for autonomy and freedom of many professionals?
From do-it-yourself to do-it-together architectures, self-building has widely developed theoretical basis and constitutes a very common practice. Self-building is the field of research which was founded, in the Fifties and Sixties, the modern theories concerning collective habitat, participatory design approaches and co-housing.
Every year more than 200,000 people around the world construct their homes with self-building strategies. In 2014 the UK Government announced that it would invest over 150 million pounds “to promote self-building in the private housing sector in 2014 as a part of plans to help solve the housing crisis”.
Do-it-yourself architecture covers different disciplines that are very diverse from one another: from assisted self-building, to that which is spontaneous and self-managed, to the use of local construction techniques – traditional or vernacular –, from contemporary and cutting-edge technologies, or from the completion of a house or a shelter to a school or a community building, or even to collective forms of co-housing.
With projects and researches by: Al Borde, Alan Willett and Steve Gaarder, Archintorno, BC Architects, Beyond Architecture Group, Collettivo Ark, Cristina Cerulli, FAREstudio_Riccardo Vannucci, Fundación Escuela para la Vida, Giovanni Jalla, Ian Hall, Karine Labrousse, Jorge Dantas, Kikuma Watanabe, Luca Sampò, Marco Aresta, Giulia Scialpi, Ecohacer, Nathaniel Corum, Paolo Mestriner, Paolo Robazza, Paulo Alfonso, Marta Maccaglia, Rural Studio, Elena Barthel, Sara Capurro, VIVIAMOLAq
Boundaries is a quarterly magazine on sustainable, socially engaged and humanitarian architecture. Each issue is monographic, with full texts in English and Italian (facing), and all articles are accompanied by notes and a bibliography for further reading. ISSN 2239-0332.