Javier Arpa will deliver a Loebl Lecture on Collective Housing, "Density and Desire," on Fri., Feb. 24 @ 2 p.m. in S. R. Crown Hall.
Density and Desire: We know that density is the best ally of sustainable development. We know that a dense city consumes less land, which optimizes the cost of infrastructure, transport and public facilities. This in turn reduces the cost of construction and maintenance. It is the most efficient because any detached house in the countryside, however efficient it is, needs a road and, most likely, a private car to reach it. For its part, the dense city also facilitates sharing and encourages the interactions with others.
But the construction of the dense city must not forget that every dwelling (type) should be a (unique) home, and that each home should be full of reasons for its future residents to want to live there.
How to make each house the home we wish to inhabit?
If we were to ask ourselves what the desired house really was, most of us would recognize that we have an ideal photo in mind. It would be even more embarrassing if we were to ask ourselves where we live at present, in which type of house, in which part of the city and what plans we have for the future. Suddenly, density ceases to be a concept, something vital for the planet, a ratio for judging plans. Suddenly, density becomes an uncomfortable subject which deeply affects our decisions.
We know that the dense city has to be built, but while building the city, we cannot forget the home: the home for the user who will put their name on the letterbox. As we need to live in dense cities to save resources, this need must be converted into desire, and we will achieve this by turning housing into home and each home into our home.
Javier Arpa is an architecture and urbanism author, curator, researcher and lecturer. Javier holds a Master of Science in Architecture degree from the Delft University of Technology, and specializes in the dissemination of architectural and urban design practice.
He is the Research and Education Coordinator of The Why Factory, a global think-tank and research institute, run by MVRDV and Delft University of Technology and led by professor Winy Maas. He currently teaches at the Delft University of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, and has taught at Harvard University, Columbia University, Belleville and Versailles in Paris and at the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid.
He is the curator of the exhibitions Paris Habitat and Paysages Habités, held in 2015 at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris, and is the author of the monograph Paris Habitat: One Hundred Years of City, One Hundred Years of Life. Both the exhibition and the accompanying monograph underline the contribution of public housing to city-making, as well as the capacity of historical architectural precedents to respond to contemporary concerns.
Javier was Senior Editor for a+t research group, one of Europe’s leading publishers in architecture and urban design. His expertise in housing is manifested in the publications of a+t’s Density series, which he coauthored. His passion for the city as the essential format capable for promoting the resolution of competing urban uses is reflected in the Hybrids and Civilities series, which he also co-authored. In addition, Javier’s ability to analyze urban landscapes and public spaces from an editorially distinct perspective is visible in the In Common series, The Public Chance volume, and the Strategy series, all of which he co-authored.
In 2013, he co-organized the conference "The City That Never Was," in cooperation with the Architectural League of New York. This event used the current economic and urban crisis in Spain as a lens through which to consider future global patterns of urbanization and settlement.
He worked for a number of architecture firms in Argentina, The Netherlands, Spain, and France, and led several urban planning projects in China. As a consultant, he provides independent advice to the different stakeholders involved in the development of a variety of urban design projects in France.