In practice. Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA)

Originally published on The Architectural Review in Sep, 2023

by AAHA – The Canadian collective Architects Against Housing Alienation (Adrian Blackwell, David Fortin, Matthew Soules, Sara Stevens, Simoogit Saa Bax Patrick Stewart and Tijana Vujosevic)

Walk along the downtown streets of any major city in c\a\n\a\d\a and you will see people living on pavements, under freeways and in parks.

Far from isolated anomalies or aberrations in an otherwise working system, these tent villages reveal the true state of the housing system, one that has little regard for those who occupy the lower end of the economic spectrum. Though c\a\n\a\d\a is a wealthy nation, the unaffordability of its housing has caused a decline in homeownership, long held as a pillar of a stable and thriving settler society. The landscape of housing has dramatically changed in recent years, and is now characterised by disrepair, housing shortage, precarity and houselessness; the increased financialisation of housing, particularly rental and senior housing, affects living costs, health and quality of life, and increases eviction and displacement – disproportionately impacting marginalised people.

(…) Today, homes are designed to be exchangeable assets. They follow the rules of real
‐estate speculation so that they can store wealth and be easily traded for profit. This results in environments that are racist, sexist and classist, most trenchantly expressed in the structural barriers to home ownership faced by racialised people, women and other marginalised groups. Housing alienation disproportionately robs many people of their power to determine for themselves the means of their survival and flourishing. Profit‐driven housing production almost always depends on the exploitation of labour and the degradation of the environment through unsustainable construction and resource extraction.

(…) These problems are often thought to be beyond the scope of architecture. But architecture is a social, cultural, political and material construct that is central to the housing ‘system’, and this centrality presents tremendous agency and opportunity. Born of this paradox between intractability and opportunity, Architects Against Housing Alienation (AAHA) is a collective we created in 2021 to raise awareness and create change around inherent and ongoing problems in the housing system in the place now known as c\a\n\a\d\a, and to empower architects to design a more equitable future. AAHA’s inaugural campaign is ‘Not for Sale!’ and is currently occupying the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale as its temporary headquarters. The goal of the campaign is to end housing alienation. (…)

So... is this getting serious?

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