Despite being one of the least affordable cities in the world, Rome’s political instability has ushered in trash-filled streets, crumbling infrastructure and an excess of abandoned building stock. To capitalize on these building vacancies, this proposal seeks to revitalize, through an interior fit-out, Rome’s defunct LEO Penicillin Campus. This notorious case in point stands as an example of how Rome might inject its housing stock with new affordable models for collective life without expensively building from the ground up. Given the excess number of vacant buildings in Rome, we believe the interior fit-out is the most socially, urbanistically and economically responsible way of reinvigorating Rome’s urban context while providing an answer to the call for affordable communal housing. While for the purposes of the competition entry we have focused our attention on the development of Domestic Equipment within the domestic setting, we also provide a sketch (right) of how we imagine the LEO Penicillin campus can transform into a collective village complete with a community garden, a health center, space for childcare and a library.
The Domestic Equipment we are proposing challenges our normative expectations related to privacy, the nuclear family structure, ownership, and the resultant arrangement of architectural space. It is a proposal for shared domestic space — one which substitutes a housing-scale proposition (rooms, corridors, etc.) with the scale of furniture.
Resisting traditional top down models for housing which do much to flatten individual experience through self-similar unit types, inherent to the informal arrangement of domestic equipment is a flexibility which accommodates a host of subjective idiosyncrasies. The proposition interrogates preconceived notions of private ownership and cellular living where, within a given apartment building or housing development, each tenant’s home contains a space dedicated for a kitchen, living room, dining room, toilet, etc. Apart from a wasteful redundancy of space and commodities, we argue that the contemporary dwelling becomes depoliticized through the sequestering of individuals into private cells, where the opportunity for debate, exchange and dispute amongst the public all but disappears.