How does the 99% live? World Histories of Housing


Kenny Cupers

Course Description:

During the twentieth century, the world’s population increased more than in any other period in history, from about 1.6 billion in 1900 to over 6 billion in 2000. It seems impossible to fathom where all those people came to live—if and how they came to house themselves, or come to be housed. This block course explores the dreams and realities of dwelling in the past century—a period of unprecedented urbanization, globalization, and technological development, but also of world war, humanitarian crisis, and deep poverty. From war-damaged Europe to suburban California and from apartheid Johannesburg to high-rise Singapore, the course surveys the major types of housing that have accommodated the world’s unprecedented population growth and in doing so, have shaped the vast expansion of our urbanized world in the past century. We will explore not only the radical dreams of architects and planners and the money-making schemes of developers, but also the complex involvement of governments, experts, home-buyers, and those simply needing a place to live. The course draws from the history of architecture and urbanism as well as social and political histories of urbanization and development.

Format and Learning Objectives:

This course familiarizes students with foundational concepts in housing studies. It trains students to understand housing as the product of particular historical forces— such as the transformations of capitalism or the politics of socialism. By looking at how new kinds of housing and new ways of dwelling emerge and transform as they travel across the globe, the course problematizes oppositions between modern and traditional, between North and South, and between canonical architecture and vernacular building.



Type:  Lecture
Semester:  Fall
Credit Points:  3 CP
Language of instruction:  English
Scale:  Pass/Fail