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Robert Stuart-Smith Studio
Assistants: Tyson Hosmer

Michael Barraclough (Australia)
Matthew Le Grice (New Zealand)
Jose Pareja (Mexico)
Daniel Ovalle Costal (Spain)

Protean Pattern

The research addresses a housing crisis being caused by rapid urbanisation. This process, which is primarily due to population growth and rural migration, is predicted to double urban populations over the next 50 years. Due to this, the amount building stock required over the next 50 years will equal that of which has been constructed throughout the entire history of civilisation. To accommodate these unprecedented rates of growth, existing housing solutions need to be rethought and reformulated. Our proposed design system does this by coupling a series of housing genotypes in seemingly contradictory relationships, and in so doing, attempts to appropriate their attributes while overcoming their shortfalls.
The project challenges the inexpensive but socially damaging urban sprawl and the expensive but land-use proficient urban extrusion by proposing a system that is low-rise, high-density and woven into the under-utilised gaps of dense existing cities. This allows for the reduction of construction and operational costs and the maximisation of interaction between inhabitants by making use of existing infrastructure while optimising the use of scarce urban land. In contrast to typical in-situ and prefabricated construction techniques that are generic yet time-efficient, our system harnesses readily available technologies in order to propose a construction process that is prefabricated and bespoke. This allows the project to be built at rates that can compete with other high-speed development models, while at the same time respond to the intricacies of particular places, lifestyles and environmental features. Beyond standard hard and soft material conditions, which create spaces that are either fixed but long lasting or malleable but transient our system establishes varying gradients between these two conditions. This allows it to fluctuate in scale and configuration over time in accordance with changes in density, lifestyle and season while enabling the materials to be replaced incrementally in alignment with their various life-cycles. This is achieved through a patterning technique that transforms flat metal sheets into dimensionally variable, volumetric surfaces.