Dear FuturArc Readers,
It might be mind-boggling to imagine now, but we might be cohabitating with sea creatures like sharks in the near future.
The picture in my mind is a particularly fascinating drawing of a shark-like contraption created by one of the children at Toyo Ito’s school (see FuturArc Interview). At least the children in his school have already visualised that scenario when asked to design a house that floats on water—alluding to the increasingly real possibility that humans would have to live on or under water as a result of climate change, which was what spurred the world’s largest prototype for a floating city to be built in South Korea (see Happenings).
What is a house? What is a living space? These same questions world-renowned architect Toyo Ito raised with his students that he shared during his conversation with us are the same key pointers that laid the foundation when building this issue.
To Ana Malia Falemaka, a youth activist from Tonga who spoke at the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum, a home is “an essential space for children to grow; our homes must first of all be safe and healthy for them to live in”. That means it is not enough just to have the bare bones of a roof over one’s head to call a house a home. In Asia, the question of having enough or sufficient housing is still a mammoth work-in-progress task to address—it is about closing the gap. Main Feature contributor Luis Noda, Habitat for Humanity’s Vice President for Asia-Pacific, calls for greater private-public collaboration to ensure that the most vulnerable of social groups has access to this basic human right in an ethical, sustainable way.
In Vietnam, Dr Le Thi Hong Na and Nguyen Viet Hien examine in detail ways to adapt the beloved traditional street house to modern high-rise apartments without losing the core principles of spatial flexibility and environmental responsiveness that reside in the heart of the street house. Such familiarity in local culture is an important part of what makes a home in Vietnamese cities. And that significance is reflected in the variety of housing offered across different social groups represented in this edition—from leveraging modular methods and offering flexible affordable apartment options to prioritising blue-green ecosystem services in an ‘eco-city’ complex and a vertical haven of air, light and greenery housing three generations.
If one is comfortable in one’s living environment, one might call it their habitat. It is also the namesake of one of the world’s most famous residences that has redefined the high-rise apartment typology. Like the definition, Habitat ’67 was designed to give greater comfort to residents by bringing more air and light into the living space. Bhawna Jaimini reviews the iconic project and the latter modifications birthed from the original idea; she also spoke to Charu Kokate, Partner at Safdie Architects, to glean insights on the back story of Habitat ’67 and its recent adaptations by the firm, as well as the housing crisis amidst the current climate.
My favourite takeaway from this issue is Eko Prawoto’s philosophy of living and life in general. He shared how amused he gets from city folks’ curiosity about his humbly sufficient way of life: “I am sometimes asked, ‘If you live in a village, are there snakes? Are there mosquitoes?’ Sure, there are. There are also termites, all kinds of critters—and so what? This is their home—I’m simply a boarder; I live alongside them.”
In his own way, he may have found a solution to most of modern world’s problems today of insufficiency—if we learn to live within our means with decency and respect, without encroaching on others and Nature due to greed or selfishness, we could be well on our way to enabling more to have access to the basic human right of housing.