A HOUSE IN LUANDA
with: Luca Bono, Stefano Tropea


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A housing scheme built on the most powerful and precious material: trust.

Trust as social capital in a community based on interdependence, an invisible force that holds economical and political life together. There's need of reliable laws that guarantee even to the poorest inhabitants secure legal title to their piece of land, the only asset that can be used as a collateral security.

Trust as self-confidence. Guided self-construction processes allow unskilled and unemployed people of both genders to be trained, while being involved in the making of their everyday environment and gradually improving their personal skills. The house, made by a microcosm of structurally independent pavilions, could be built and improved easily at different steps, following the varying pattern of economic disposal, increasing building skills and number of family members.

Trust in experimentation. Many sub-Saharian cultures traditionally perceive home as a wide environment, as a place defined more by rituals and social practices than by a compact volume. While Western urban culture strongly characterized public space, African and traditional Chinese cities share a certain indifference towards a highly specialized urban environment. Contemporary low density African cities could experiment the implantation and manipulation of a foreign high-density typology: the Chinese courtyard house. This model, on a regional base, already shares some relevant aspects with the sub-Saharan housing: a marked homogeneity of types, while variation relies on variation in scale and in the quality and decoration of materials, and the definition through a fence of a microcosm where families run their daily life. These inner spaces are usually specialized and rigidly comparted in their use, while there's a progressive and blurred distinction between indoors and outdoors, thanks also to a mild climate.The pattern of the fence could allow different degrees of privacy, eventually disappearing when the relationships between neighbors grow.

Trust as pooling of risk.
A large-scale housing policy financed through microbanking. Small scale banking has consistently supported development worldwide, boosting job creation and raising living standards. The joint liability of a group of borrowers reduces the risk of lending to the poorest, inducing responsible attitude between citizens.

Trust in space and experience sharing
. While nowadays there's often a close and univocal bond between a house and a family, the ever-increasing degree of proximity and density induced by inurbation in modern African cities could induce the proliferation of new practices and lifestyles, driven by social or economical needs. By instance, families could break their isolation towards foreign people and open part of their daily private environment to other inhabitants: each house could have a part that can be rented so that the rent pays the bond for the house, or contributes in raising the family living standards and increasing the confidence and trust towards fellow citizens.

 

01

1. Hard /soft
A house as a microcosm of materic elements within a soft edge: while the individual space (rooms) is determined by a hard boundary (walls), the family space (house) is defined by a soft edge (fence).

2.Outer / inner rooms
The mild Angolan climate allows having a progressive and blurred distinction between indoors and outdoors: the house can be seen as a sequence covered/uncovered of rooms, each of the rooms devoted to a certain activity.

3.In-between

The division between street/house, public/private is not always determined by a recognizable threshold: in-between spaces are spaces belonging to either the public or private domain and are equally accessible to both sides.

 




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