chapter  2
18 Pages

Incubators of Open Building

WithStephen Kendall, Jonathan Teicher

In 1961, N.J. Habraken, a young Dutch architect, published De Dragers en de Mensem het einde van de massawoningbouw, a slender volume subsequently translated as Supports: An Alternative to Mass Housing (1972). In Supports, Habraken observed that mass housing (MH) had begun to disrupt an age-old ‘natural relation’ between human beings and their built environment. Although the brutalist forms of mass housing might be embraced or villified, there was far more at stake than style: as one by-product of the reorganization of the housing process, mass housing was creating a disruptive imbalance among forces which, in healthy environment, operate in dynamic equilibrium. Largely implicit processes had hitherto created, sustained and enriched built environment for millenia, based on slowly evolving themes and variations. Now those processes were being brought to a halt.