Urban Life

An exhibition on housing design in the contemporary city


In fall of 2003, The Architectural League presented an exhibition of twenty recently completed urban housing projects from cities around the world. The exhibition focused on three critical questions facing architects and urban designers:

  • How can dwelling form contribute to the future of cities?
  • How can housing help create a balanced and sustainable land-use pattern?
  • How can housing design make medium and high-density urban living affordable, comfortable, and appealing?

Drawing from cities including Paris, Vienna, Osaka, and London, the exhibition brought together housing projects that offered creative answers to these questions and suggest innovative or provocative points of comparison with housing design efforts in the United States. Architects with work in the exhibition included Frederic Borel, Neave Brown, Coop Himmel(b)lau, Bill Dunster, Koning/Eizenberg, Michael Pyatok, Stanley Saitowitz, and many others.

The exhibition was organized around six ‘perspectives on housing,’ which served as criteria for evaluating the projects as urban strategies. Three perspectives focus on different levels of scale: body, building, and city. Three more considered approaches to implementation: environment, technology, and issues of finance and development.