Housing Norms and Standards: The Design of Everyday Life
Housing design is greatly informed by social and cultural norms or expectations around home use and everyday life. This thematic issue examines the interrelationships between social norms, cultural expectations, home use, everyday life, and lived experiences to technical housing standards and design outcomes. It is interested in how a socio-technical discourse can produce new insights, evidence, or analytical frameworks for housing and design research studies.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the use and space of homes were extensively studied, with analysis frequently combining design research, qualitative, and statistical methods. These studies became formative to technical standards, design companions, and typical design solutions that determined the way housing is designed and delivered. For example, graphical and dimensional methods of assessing plan layouts based on furniture and movement requirements are still in use today as part of space standards to regulate minimum dwelling sizes, dimensions, and functionality.
Interactions between norms and standards are contextual to different periods, regions, and cultures. How domestic practices and uses become normative and translated into technical standards can thus greatly vary. While housing priorities and lifestyles continuously change, significant historical events have often acted as a catalyst to long-term transformations in housing policy, design, and expectations. The COVID-19 pandemic and its lived experience at home is such an event, which has profoundly challenged existing notions of domesticity and dwelling functionality or usability. World War II and post-war public housing programmes or the fall of communism and the rise of housing marketisation are other historical examples.
This issue invites papers that can advance a new socio-technical discourse through a study of technical housing standards and the lived experience or changes in socio-cultural norms that challenge them.