Where housing is concerned, we find ourselves swirling in binaries. Housing builds communities at the same time as it makes us feel alienated from them. Home ownership or an affordable, long-term lease are the foundations of stability, while homelessness is the ultimate precarity. Housing is a human right, but often it feels like a fluke of luck. New technologies allow us to build smart homes, impervious to all elements; at the same time, cities are crumbling under the weight of foreclosures, failed infrastructure, climate change, and war. Housing is so many things at once; it is a mess of contradictions deeply intertwined with larger social, political, cultural, and economic forces. But as a result, by reading housing, communal conditions—shared across neighborhoods, countries, and continents—begin to become legible.
Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation has a long history of engaging questions of housing, and of doing so from many different angles. At Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, we hope to add—through books like Unhoused by Matt Waggoner, the Transcripts on Housing series, and even in The Empire Remains Shop by Cooking Sections and Columbia in Manhattanville—another dimension to this discussion. Pulling citations from books we have published and more, these footnotes play into the simultaneity of housing’s many valences: Housing is both/and.