Introduction & The Manual

The ‘Standard’ Home

The minimum level of comfort in UK homes today would have been a distant dream to those of poor economic status a few centuries ago. It is for that reason that the introduction of living standards must be praised rather than chastised. Standards of living, however, are always relative to the wider society. Unfortunately, in our modern society the minimum standard also inversely becomes the maximum due to the economic ecosystem. Developers save money by designing more efficient spaces, with smaller façades and standardised, mass produced windows and materials. Economics strongly influence architectural outcomes. We believe the position of architects needs to be stronger and we need to challenge the set standard and make it more dynamic so it is harder to exploit. 

The first standards introduced in the UK had ambitious intentions. Their stipulations were in fact better than what is being built today. Higher ceilings, bigger gardens, larger windows, these standards initiated the notion that dignified and comfortable living was the responsibility of collective society and the government. The UK had the ability to provide comfortable homes and no longer had any excuses not to. 

One of the biggest challenges facing designers right now is how to change the status quo when things are fine. Our manual begins with the thought that fine is not good enough. Making everything just about bearable does not constitute comfort nor good architectural design. Designing our homes for true comfort has never been more important than now. We began our thesis research during lock-down in the UK, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the weaknesses of our home environment were magnified by time. Our research develops a methodology for challenging standards and creating a human-centred approach to designing domestic architecture rather than an economic model to be exploited. 

The research within this thesis project is timely, as in recent years collective programmes developed outside of the home have moved inside. Advances in technology have enabled the kitchen table to become the office, the bathroom to become the spa, and the living room to become the school. Modern housing has become its own micro-city. How can domestic architecture accommodate these infiltrations but also exceed the current understanding of comfort as a minimum standard? Our research by design approach disrupts the norm of domestic architecture through the creation of a dynamic manual, whereby changing parameters changes the hierarchy of comfort. Follow this manual with a different protagonist and location to uncover new design opportunities investigating the true meaning of comfort. 

Our Manual: What is Comfort?

Click the front cover to read