Housing as Intervention: Architecture towards Social Equity

In the face of persistent social inequities worldwide, how can architects make a meaningful contribution? A discussion at the RCA


06:00pm, Thursday, 18 October 2018


09:00pm, Thursday, 18 October 2018

18 October 2018
6.30 – 8pm

School of Architecture
Lecture Theatre 1
Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU


This is a past event

Housing’s primary position in our lives, economies and the built environment makes it a natural site of intervention in the complex fight against systemic injustices. Bringing together contemporary international and London examples, this program examines how housing projects, and the design processes behind them, can be interventions towards greater social equity. The event also marks the launch of a volume of Architectural Design (AD) of the same title, edited by Karen Kubey. 



Karen Kubey, Guest-Editor, Housing as Intervention, Architecture towards Social Equity, Architectural Design / Wiley; Visiting Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Paul Karakusevic, Partner, Karakusevic Carson Architects

Pooja Agrawal, Co-founder, Public Practice

Dr. Tarsha Finney, Programme Lead, City Design, Royal College of Art



6.30 Doors
6.45 Intro I: Dr. Tarsha Finney
Karen Kubey – “Housing for the Common Good”
Paul Karakusevic – “A New Era for Social Housing: Architecture as the Basis for Change”
Pooja Agrawal – Discussion
Moderated by Tarsha Finney

Across the world, the housing crisis is escalating. Mass migration 
to cities has led to rapid urbanisation on an unprecedented scale, while the withdrawal of public funding from social housing provision in Western countries, and widening income inequality, have further compounded the situation. In prosperous US and European cities, middle- and low-income residents are being pushed out of housing markets increasingly dominated by luxury investors. The average London tenant, for example, now pays an unaffordable 49 per cent of his or her pre-tax income in rent. Parts of the developing world and areas of forced migration are experiencing insufficient affordable housing stock coupled with rapidly shifting ways of life.

In response to this context, forward-thinking architects are taking the lead with a collaborative approach. By partnering with allied fields, working with residents, developing new forms of housing, and leveraging new funding systems and policies, they are providing strategic leadership for what many consider to be our cities’ most pressing crisis. Amidst growing economic and health disparities, this issue of AD asks how housing projects, and the design processes behind them, might be interventions towards greater social equity, and how collaborative work in housing might reposition the architectural profession at large.

Karen Kubey is an urbanist and architectural educator specializing in housing and health. She co-founded the Architecture for Humanity New York chapter (now Open Architecture / New York) and New Housing New York, and was the first executive director of the Institute for Public Architecture. Karen guest-edited the current volume of Architectural Design (AD), Housing as Intervention Architecture towards Social Equity and has recently collaborated with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York City Housing Authority. Trained as an architect at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University, Karen began her career in affordable housing design. She is a visiting associate professor at Pratt Institute and has received support from the New York State Council on the Arts and The MacDowell Colony.


Contributors: Cynthia Barton, Deborah Gans, and Rosamund Palmer; Neeraj Bhatia and Antje Steinmuller; Dana Cuff; Fatou Dieye; Robert Fishman; Na Fu; Paul Karakusevic; Kaja Kühl and Julie Behrens; Matthew Gordon Lasner; Meir Lobaton Corona; Marc Norman; Julia Park; Brian Phillips and Deb Katz; Pollyanna Rhee; Emily Schmidt and Rosalie Genevro.

Featured architects: 5468796 Architecture, Architects for Social Housing, Shigeru Ban Architects, Tatiana Bilbao ESTUDIO, Casagrande Laboratory, cityLAB, Frédéric Druot Architecture, Duvall Decker Architects, Einszueins Architektur, ERA Architects, GANS studio, Garrison Architects, Sagi Golan and Peterson Rich Office (PRO), HOWOGE, Christophe Hutin Architecture, ifau / HEIDE & VON BECKERATH, Interface Studio Architects, Karakusevic Carson Architects, Lacaton & Vassal, Light Earth Designs, NHDM, Gray Organschi Architecture, PYATOK architecture + urban design, TAX / Alberto Kalach, Urbanus, and Urban Works Agency