Small Housing: Wright’s Explorations and Published Manuals

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (BAMC2022)
Title: Small Housing: Wright’s Explorations and Published Manuals
Stream: Architecture and Urban Studies/Design
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Daniel Giraldo Valencia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia
María del Pilar Sanchez- Beltran, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia


In 1936, Frank Lloyd Wright built the first of the Usonian series: the Herbert Jacobs House. These houses were characterized by providing a solution to affordable housing after the crisis of 1929: By reducing the spatial and material elements of the house to a minimum, and thus, making it more efficient. Along with his spatial explorations, Wright had a prolific production of texts and conferences about the subject. Concerns about minimum housing in the United States was an unavoidable issue, seeking to provide a solution involving economic, constructive, and social aspects. Different manuals made since 1936, such as The Book of Small Houses by Architectural Forum, helped the population to make decisions on how to build an affordable house with everything necessary for a decent life. These publications referred to develop the building in a single story, the most used materials, and the importance of considering the opinion of the architect, the builder, the decorator, the real estate manager. These publications showed a wide catalog of projects by various architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, among others. By doing so, these publications disseminated projects focused on what was considered essential for a small house and were inductive in the reader's opinion, providing foundations on how to build a house. Based on the manuals, it is possible to affirm that Wright was part of broader reflection on the basic needs of the time. However, his contributions would stand out in the search for a comprehensive solution after the crisis.

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