Social Housing is an important issue in architecture, it is often said that architects have a social responsibility to the public and along with sustainable design creating affordable social housing is seen as one of the best and most useful ways to fill this social responsibility. It is a really challenging project type to try and create a project that can accommodate to all the living needs of any number of different people in a way that they can live comfortably and happily, but also to construct in cheaply enough to make sure it is available to lower class citizens and can actually have a chance of making a positive social impact within a community. I think the most interesting example of this kind of architecture that we have seen in class is the Nemause social housing project in Nemause, France designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. This project really shows an active interest in creating a situation that could improve the social and economic situation in the town for a number of people even if the question of whether or not that was accomplished cannot be completely answered.
There is one point that came up with this project that I found particularly interesting, and it’s an idea that I came across when writing about Parasite blog post and the Sicilian houses in which the residents would add on in order to update their homes in a useful and affordable way. This was the idea of open source architecture in which the power of design is made available to those who have the most access and stake in the way in which a project is realized, the end user. In the Nemause housing project apartments are sold to residents as empty unfinished and unfurnished rooms and the organization and design of all of the interior space is left to them. Yet a kind of open source was never planned for by the architect or the city, the open ended nature of the apartments being sold seemed to be more as a means of keeping the apartments at an affordable price by letting users select their own finishes. Though I find this to be the most interesting aspect of the building it was never really intended to be a factor that drastically effected the overall design and intention of the building, in fact the architect went out of his way to make sure that he could limit the amount to which the residents could affect the appearance of the space by making them sign a clause saying they would not touch the concrete walls even within their own apartment. It seems strange that the thing I most like about the building would be something the architect was trying to stop from happening, I think it is very valuable that the façade could be changed by the user and the building could be constantly updated, and Jean Nouvel in an interview stated that he wishes the building to be stuck in time period in which it was designed, to never stray far from the specific vision he saw for the how the people can use his project.