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Stuff and space in the home: How can an understanding of material possessions help to inform spatial storage design in UK housing?

Marco-Burguete, Elena

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Abstract

In the field of architecture, there has been little research on how the accumulation of material possessions is impacting on space for living in the home. There has been little understanding of what households own, collect, store and dispose of, nor the implications this might have for domestic space design, especially that for storage. The ‘stuff’ that inhabitants own is largely overlooked in current debates on housing policy and design. Yet, householders can have their quality of life, well-being and happiness negatively affected by material possessions, the ‘stuff’ they keep in their homes.
This study presents the evolution of a seven-year critical, exploratory and reflective enquiry into the relationship between material possessions and housing design. By better understanding the nature of ‘stuff’ and space in UK houses, they can be better designed. The enquiry is articulated through five peer-reviewed outputs, which together answer the overall research question, “How can an understanding of material possessions help to inform spatial storage design in UK housing?”. The research outputs presented in this study vary in terms of their housing focus, with the first three Outputs being wide ranging, and final two Outputs narrowing down the object of study to enable a clear focus for engagement. Throughout the enquiry, an explorative and reflective multi-methodological approach is followed, combining design research with a visual / sensory ethnography, which is augmented with architectural visual probes, leading to ‘a visual ethnography of a design process’.
The findings from Output #1 present a unique graphical exploration of how the design of domestic space has changed over the last 200 years and identifies the role that material possessions have played in this change. Output #1 takes the form of a series of graphical timelines and an interactive website. This is followed by an innovative participatory exhibition (Output #2) that captures the intellectual agenda of the house as a ‘container’ and the household contents, the ‘stuff’, as the ‘contained’. This exhibition presents a new perspective on the ordinary, by showing how everyday possessions impact the way the inhabitants occupy their homes. The past and present qualities of the domestic space are then captured in a 3D architectural model. The model, along with a peer-reviewed journal article exploring its use in the research, form Output #3. Then follows the theoretical development of a new conceptual framework of material possessions that identifies universal characteristics and categories to be used in housing design, which also includes a set of room- and house-specific strategies for storage. This is presented as Output #4, a peer- reviewed journal article. Finally, the framework is tested in a storage-focused design intervention with practising architects, and proposes innovative housing design solutions for the standardised house type in the UK. This is also in the form of a peer- reviewed journal article (Output #5).
The study concludes that the design of future homes could better support inhabitants’ quality of life and well-being if space for storage was better understood. The study argues for a more informed approach to housing design, where storage is valued and the space provided is flexible, so the reality of inhabitants' 'stuff’, and its associated well-being implications, are considered.

Citation

Marco-Burguete, E. Stuff and space in the home: How can an understanding of material possessions help to inform spatial storage design in UK housing?. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/6980748

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jan 11, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2021
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/6980748

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