Strategies for Living in Houses


  • Colin Ripley Ryerson University, Toronto



The problem of queer housing can never go away because it is a central component of queerness. Queer housing is a contradiction in terms: not even a queer architect can design a queer house. But where does this leave us, as queer people living in a straight hegemony? Where does it leave us as humans with bodies, craving shelter and safety and a place to live that is in accordance with our experience of self and of living in the world? In this article the author proposes eight architectural strategies for re-occupying the Levittown Cape Cod house from 1947 for queer bodies, minds and hearts. These strategies offer modes by which the key programmatic formal and material components of the Cape Cod House can be attacked, made invalid, or détourned for queer uses, to make of the Cape Cod House a site for our pain, our longing, our anger.

Author Biography

Colin Ripley, Ryerson University, Toronto

Colin Ripley is a Professor in and Past Chair of the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. He is also a director of RVTR ( RVTR operates simultaneously as a professional architectural practice and as an academic research platform with studios in Toronto and Ann Arbor, Michigan. RVTR has been extensively published about and is the winner of a number of major awards, including the 2009 Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture. Colin Ripley holds a Bachelor of Engineering from McMaster University, a Master of Science in theoretical physics from the University of Toronto and a Master of Architecture from Princeton University, and is currently working on a doctorate in Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought at the European Graduate School. He is the author or editor of several books about architecture as well as journal papers on a wide range of topics, including megaregional urbanism, responsive envelope systems, sonic architecture, Canadian modern architecture, and the modern concept of the house as understood through the writings of Jean Genet.


International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). Yogyakarta Principles - Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, March 2007. Available online at:

McCarthy, Timothy Patrick, and John Campbell McMillian (eds.). The Radical Reader: A documentary history of the American radical tradition. New York: The New Press, 2003.