The (Existez-) minimum dwelling

Ioannidou, Ersi (2007) The (Existez-) minimum dwelling. (PhD thesis), UCL, .


This thesis is an exploration into the modern meaning of the minimum dwelling. It discusses how this meaning gradually became disengaged from the minimum house. It proposes a new definition of the minimum dwelling based on the minimum social unit, that is, the individual. At the beginning of the 20th century, the term Existenzminimum dwelling proposed a new way of living. This modernist definition of the minimum dwelling was based on a reproducible expendable minimum house. This thesis argues that this definition is no longer valid; yet, any present definition of the minimum dwelling is still informed by it. The reconfiguration of the minimum house as an expendable object disempowered the house as a tool for the experience of the home. This dissociation of the house and the home is a condition that has gradually diminished the role of the house in everyday life and redefined the experience of the home. The meaning of the home is now invested in a multiplicity of locations, experiences and objects. This thesis defines the minimum home as a core of personally meaningful possessions, the spatial configurations they create and recreate and the information they carry. This thesis’s definition of the minimum dwelling is based on this minimum home. This argument is pursued through two modes of inquiry. On the one hand with a critical analysis of texts, buildings, architectural projects and works of art. On the other hand by the development of a series of projects. These two investigations are parallel and overlapping. In this document, they are organised in a linear way. This structure assists the progress of the argument and reveals the gradual development of this thesis from an interest to develop a truly individual minimum house to the realisation that the minimum dwelling is a personal project.

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