The idea of a habitat that is easily adaptable to changes in the lives of the humans it houses is naturally very old, like all strong ideas – which cannot be forgotten. We will even gladly argue that it is situated at the origins of habitation and that the evolutionary habitat can be considered as the habitat of origins, anthropologically speaking.

The current diversity of social housing architecture, both in terms of the buildings as a whole and in terms of the design of the cells, is the result of the implementation of policies of innovation, rehabilitation and consultation with the inhabitants: it also incorporates the lessons learned from past experiences of housing scalability. This diversification went hand in hand with the new attention paid by the young Construction Plan, already twenty years ago, to the quality of social housing, thus accompanying the overcoming of the first concern, only quantitative, of post-war reconstruction. This exit from the shortage of social housing, slow at times, seems nevertheless certain as a heavy trend.

The integration of possible socio-familial changes into the built environment, concretized in the construction system itself as premeditated intentionality, makes the difference, in our opinion, between the evolutionary habitat itself and the original evolution of the vernacular in the broad sense, observable in the whole of the built environment, with rare exceptions, culturally determined.

If the platform, the pilotis, and the plan libre are essential, technically speaking, in order to give rise to the idea of evolution, the doctrine of the acceptance of a “functional” facade (the random result of the plan libre, without any deliberate aesthetic research, the anti-fa├žade, in short) is certainly also essential.

“Even if Le Corbusier seeks to remove anguish by introjecting what causes it, it is more than that. At the elementary level of production, i.e., that of the simple living cell, the objective he sets himself is to design a flexible and interchangeable object that promotes rapid consumption. Within the meshes of macrostructures formed by the superimposed artificial terrains, Le Corbusier allows complete freedom in the modes of insertion of the pre-constituted housing cells; in other words, the public is invited to actively project the city. A particularly eloquent drawing by Le Corbusier shows that he even goes so far as to foresee the possibility of inserting eccentric and eclectic elements into the meshes of fixed structures”.

Manfredo Tafuri
Projet et Utopie

“Structuralist” metaphor of housing-clothing: through the three-dimensionality of its urban fabric, it moves towards a reunion with the content of early fantasies of adequacy between the body itself and the body of the mother. The habitat offers fantastical dimensions in corporalized terms; a habitat itself “held” by and within an immense organism can only symbolize the primary relationship with the guardian adult. Another possible source of the obvious strength of this proposition would be the ethological strength of the distant arboreal past of our species.

Going up into the trees, from which perhaps our very venerable primate ancestors should never have come down, is a strange revolution.

Where Le Corbusier left three meters under his piles to liberate the ground, Yona Friedman left fifty meters to liberate all the past built on this ground, which he thus respected, except on this point (redhibitory for most of us) that to cut the pre-existing building from its sky is both a crime against the relationship with the divine, and a land swindle.

” The habitat of the near future must be a variable habitat. The appropriate variation can be chosen by each inhabitant himself, for himself. The list of individual variations is enormous (I have studied it): for example, from standardized building elements in three different sizes, it is possible to build more than two million completely different types of three-room houses. This means that, in a city of six million inhabitants, no two apartments would be exactly alike (any more than there are two individuals who look exactly alike). “

Yona Friedman
L’architecture mobile