The House Gone Missing

The Digital Turn and the Architecture of Dwelling




The digital turn in architecture seems to have displaced the house as a paradigm for architectural theory. Omitting the house, and with it, housing and dwelling as key sites for the reconstitution of the discipline, recent theorisations of the digital in architecture have almost exclusively focused on new methods of production and notions of materiality alongside profound changes to the urban and social dimensions of the built environment. The Covid-19 pandemic has unveiled the multifaceted dimensions of the impact of the new digital technologies on dwelling as private houses transformed into online workspaces. It calls for a reflection on the question of dwelling as formulated by Martin Heidegger in 1951, when he suggested that answers won’t be found in technology and quantitative approaches to the pressing housing urgency of the time, but rather in a rethinking of culture through existentialist philosophy. The question of dwelling after the digital turn leads to scrutiny of the history of the digitisation of the house and the shifting nature of domesticity, and to an exploration of involved motivations and values, oscillating between a techno-utopianism to a techno-capitalism. While the boundaries between real and virtual realms are blurred, the house and dwelling find a reconceptualisation in ecological and relational terms, thereby dissolving the house as a discrete object or entity. Privacy, autonomy, and physicality are in need of a rebalancing.

Author Biographies

Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft University of Technology

Dirk van den Heuvel is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built environment of TU Delft, where he leads the group Architecture Archives of the Future. He is also the director of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam. His expertise lies in postwar modern architecture, planning, architecture theory and history, cultural studies, and discourse analysis. Notable book publications include 'Habitat: Ecology Thinking in Architecture' (2020), 'Jaap Bakema and the Open Society' (2018), and 'Architecture and the Welfare State' (2015). Van den Heuvel has curated exhibitions, including the Dutch national pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2014. He is an editor for DASH and an editorial board member for VLC Arquitectura. His favorite piece of architecture is the Sir John Soane's Museum in London.

Nelson Mota, Delft University of Technology

Nelson Mota is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built environment of TU Delft, where he leads the group Global Housing. He earned his doctoral degree from TU Delft in 2014 with the dissertation "An Archaeology of the Ordinary: Rethinking the Architecture of Dwelling from CIAM to Siza". Nelson is author of the book A Arquitectura do Quotidiano (edarq, 2010), co-editor of Global Housing: Dwelling in Addis Ababa (JapSam Books, 2020), and co-editor of the academic journal issues Footprint 17 (2015), Joelho 8 (2017), and Footprint 24 (2019). At the TU Delft, Nelson is co-leader of the Global Urban Lab programme at Delft Global Initiative. He is editor and member of the editorial board of the academic journal Footprint and the book series DASH- Delft Architectural Studies on Housing.


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