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A House Is Not Just a House

A House Is Not Just a House: Projects on Housing
Tatiana Bilbao
Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, October 2018

Paperback | 5 x 7-1/2 inches | 160 pages | # illustrations | Languages | ISBN: 978-1941332436 | $23.00

Publisher Description:
A House Is Not Just a House argues precisely this. The book traces Tatiana Bilbao’s diverse work on housing ranging from large-scale social projects to single-family luxury homes. Regardless of type, her work advances an argument on housing that is simultaneously expansive and minimal, inseparable from the broader environment outside of it and predicated on the fundamental requirements of living. The projects presented here offer a way of thinking about the limits of housing: where it begins and where it ends. Working within the complex and unstable history of social housing in Mexico, Bilbao argues for participating even when circumstances are less than ideal—and from this participation she is able to propose specific strategies for producing housing elsewhere.

The book includes a recent lecture by Bilbao at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, as well as reflections from fellow practitioners and scholars, including Amale Andraos, Gabriela Etchegaray, Hilary Sample, and Ivonne Santoyo-Orozco.
dDAB Commentary:

A Multi-Layered House Becomes a Landscape of its Own in Dense Osaka

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

When cities are so dense and plots of land so small it seems like you don’t have room for a yard, maybe it’s time to reconsider what a yard can look like. Presented with the challenge of designing a sunny and spacious residence in a cramped Osaka neighborhood, Japanese firm Tomohiro Hata Architect and Associates went back in time for a solution, imagining what the area looked like before it was developed and aiming to reinvent it for this new purpose.

The architects looked to the nearby mountains and imagined the lush vegetation that once would have flowed down from them into the valleys, using this image as the genesis of their “micro-topography” concept. A series of stacked concrete slabs echoes the stratification of the Earth while providing airy open platforms that support a range of ordinary domestic functions and interplay with nature.

Japan is Selling Dilapidated Homes for Extremely Low Prices to Alleviate its Housing Crisis

via Flickr. Image © Bo Nielsen via Flickr. Image © Bo Nielsen

Today, many individuals, both young and old, desire to buy property, redesign, and refurbish an existing house into their dream home. Umbrellaed under terms like “fixer-upper” and “adaptive reuse,” these projects begin with the skeletons of old structures and the building’s history. Many architects around the globe have utilized abandoned structures and transformed them into architectural marvels for both civic and domestic purposes.

Japan, in particular, has implemented a system to help alleviate the country’s current housing crisis. Despite rising urban real estate prices and limited space, over 8 million properties across Japan are unoccupied - according to a government report in 2013. It is believed that around 2 million of these structures are abandoned and deserted. Following the current trends, these numbers continue to grow each year. It is estimated that 21 million homes will be unoccupied by 2033.

A Step by step Guide to the Home Building process

The idea of building your own home has become increasing popular. This has been partly fuelled by the high price of existing property and partly as a result of the desire to build something unique and environmentally friendly.

Once you’ve decided that you want to build your own home then you need to familiarize yourself with the process.


The first step is locating the land that you wish to build on. It will need to have planning permission or you’ll need to be prepared to apply for it.

Before you apply it is important to be aware of the local planning rules and have a blueprint of your intended build drawn up. You’ll find it useful to enlist the help of an architect at this stage.

Of course you can choose to buy a home off plan but this may not give you the uniqueness you desire.


Holiday House on Prophet Ilias Mountain / Kapsimalis Architects

© Giorgos Sfakianakis © Giorgos Sfakianakis
© Giorgos Sfakianakis © Giorgos Sfakianakis

Text description provided by the architects. The holiday house is located on the highest point of Santorini Island, on ‘Prophet Ilias’ mountainside. The building faces to the southwest and has a view of the Aegean Sea and the volcanic landscape. The residence consists of a living room, a dining area, a kitchen, a main bedroom and two bathrooms oriented towards to the view.

Shape-Shifting Chinese Smart Home Uses Open-Source Building Technology

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

Set in a traditional Beijing hutong, this cozy futuristic house has a shape-changing layout and employs construction techniques available for download on WikiHouse, an open-source architecture platform.

Dot Architects developed the Baitasi House to accommodate the changing roles of living spaces, which many now also use as home offices, as well as the spatial limitations of urban housing. Per the designers, “the boundary between home and society is blurred by the rise of the sharing economy, nomad workers and technology.”

Though there is some outdoor space as well, the footprint of the home itself is just over 300 feet, making it tiny even by most city-dwelling standards. The existing structure was stripped of its sagging roof and interior partitions then retrofitted with a modular system of moving walls and folding furniture.

House on Ancaster Creek / Williamson Williamson

© Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc. © Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.
  • Architects: Williamson Williamson
  • Location: Hamilton, Canada
  • Project Team: Betsy Williamson, Shane Williamson, Chris Routley, Paul Harrison, Dimitra Papantonis, Lucas Boyd, Eric Tse, Donald Chong (Project initiated under Williamson Chong Architects)
  • Area: 3800.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2016
  • Photographs: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

Why Designing a Person's Home is the Most Challenging, Thrilling Task an Architect Can Face

<a href=''>Caring Wood / James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell</a>. Image © James Morris <a href=''>Caring Wood / James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell</a>. Image © James Morris

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Why Homes Are the Original Architecture."

Homes may be the most powerful projection of architectural value. Because shelter is essential for all of us, the home is architecture’s universal function. We’re all experts on what our own home must be, to us.

But architects often have a different view of home. Twenty years ago—during the recession before the last recession—I remember hearing an architect declare that he could earn a living designing houses until “real work came along.” Another architectural meme is the classic first job: designing a house for your parents.

Sharing Your Home with Strangers: What Does the Future Hold for the Co-Living Craze?

© Danist Sey Peng © Danist Sey Peng

What if your apartment was more than just a place to live? What if it was a catalyst for social interactions? Or what if it removed the everyday tedious tasks of cleaning, paying bills, and buying furnishings? Co-living, a modern form of housing where residents share living spaces, is aiming to do just that.

Co-living is growing in popularity in major cities such as London and New York, where increasing housing prices are forcing residents to look at new and adaptive ways to rent in the city. When we discussed the ambitions and inspirations behind the co-living movement in 2016, it was still a concept that was in its relatively experimental stages. Today, co-living is more focused in its mission, and has found success by pushing people together through a collection of common themes: a yearning for social connection, participation in an increasingly shared economy, and the affordability of a convenient housing solution.

Don’t Leave it to the Experts—Be Part of Designing Your Dream Home

It will be one of the most exciting projects of your life: Creating your dream home. But let’s be honest. It won’t be easy.

I found it daunting even before I met the architect, decorator and construction team. What if they don’t replicate what I see in my mind’s eye? I considered asking an online paper writer to help put my ideas into words. But contractors don’t have time to read that, simply to understand me better.

I actually needed to understand them better and be an active partner through the entire process. So I did my research and now I can share these tips with you.

Understand the Process


What do the contractors need from you? You don’t want to overwhelm them with unnecessary information all the time, because they may miss important details you want them to attend to.

Learn about the process they will follow. Now you can provide information and feedback at the suitable time. The process usually follows these guidelines: