The Housing System: New methods, new materials

Are technological and material advances leading to a radical change in the way we design and build housing?

July 8, 2019

Recorded on May 30, 2019.

The Housing System was a six-program series on pressing issues at the intersection of design, policy, and politics in housing in spring 2019.

While the housing production industry hasn’t changed much in the last century—it remains slow, costly, and unsustainable—architects and others are exploring advances in material production and novel methods of working that could lead to a radical shift in the design and manufacture of housing. The fifth event in the series explored new tools, approaches, and techniques, including modular construction and mass timber, that might create more cost-effective, functional, sustainable, and lasting housing.

Architect John Cerone explains the “embedded R&D element” in the work of SHoP Architects, which uses a cloud-based modeling system to design and deliver projects. Architect Craig Curtis outlines the “Silicon Valley disruption” that new building delivery company Katerra envisions for the industry, what that means for multifamily housing, and the roles of designers in an end-to-end company. Architect Sheila Kennedy shares her firm’s efforts to decarbonize housing and three projects—two built housing projects and one experiment with plant properties—that illustrate how materials, production methods, and hacks to existing systems can produce new results. Housing policy and finance expert Marc Norman moderates a discussion on the impact of production changes on existing jobs, the role of renovation, and more.