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ArgumentNo. 11/2019

The equation of the house. Habitable Atmospheres

  • / Department of Projects, Theory and Technique of Design and Architecture, Cardenal Herrera University-CEU, CEU Universities, Valencia, Spain


In the twenties of the 20th century, architects experimented with the dilemma of what housing should be for modern life. The issue was discussed in The Modern Architecture Congresses and especially in 1929 in the second edition of CIAM held in Frankfurt, with the title existenzminimum that explored the possibilities of minimal housing, proposing new models of living. Later, after the destruction of the Second World War, the problem was located in the optimization of the domestic space and the standardised construction that would solve the lack of housing.

The Modern Movement defined the foundations of this domestic restlessness by transgressing ancient habits, exploring abstraction, and eliminating the superfluous, which contrasts with the habit of the users of adding alien elements to the architectural space. We could explain the design of the home as an equation formed by the addition of parameters such as; the house, the furniture, the users and their belongings. The architect has mastery over the design of the house and as much about the furniture. The defence of Adolf Loos of the "complete design" that prevented the inhabitant from introducing anything without the supervision of the architect seems utopian and excessive. The resistance and the obstruction of the user is an interference impossible to eliminate.

Some architects have developed archetypes of new ways of life in their design of houses. This text raises a thought about this equation where the architect tries to minimize the elements that distort the perception of the domestic space exploring a particular experimental concept.