ABSTRACT

This chapter reflects on a set of 1970s educational initiatives in the UK, North America and Australia shaped by challenges to university-based architectural education models. More specifically, it examines five experimental houses, designed and built by students, that sought to reshape architectural education as more operative in post-war environmental and socio-technological debates. The UC Berkeley “Energy Pavilion,” University of Sydney “Autonomous House,” Architectural Association “Eco-House,” McGill University “ECOL Operation” and University of Minnesota “Project Ouroboros” were all designed to generate energy, collect and recycle water, treat household wastes and even grow food, on-site. That basic concept of an infrastructurally autonomous dwelling sheltered a range of experimental practices, objects and ambitions – from eco-anarchist communes to self-help housing models for the Global South. Concentrating on the resultant material artefacts, the chapter explores how – beyond the attraction of experiential learning and a heightened familiarity with building construction – these houses allowed students to actively reimagine architecture’s scope and their own professional agency.