Portfolio Project Detail

Domesticate the City Paul Cattaneo and Michael de Jong

Quarantine in the Era of Covid-19 proved a defining and illuminating challenge for many. An international pandemic event exposed weaknesses in the systems we rely upon to support daily life. Infrastructure that gave us places to work and play were suddenly identified as public safety hazards, and the world seemed to grind to a sudden halt for many.

For knowledge workers around the world, a retreat to quarantine meant a sudden retooling of the infrastructure they needed to thrive as they worked from home. Families, singles, couples, and friends have likewise had to rethink how to build community and order their lives, establishing new definitions and traditions of wellness as quarantine continued; domestic comforts have been essential to survival in this season.

Meanwhile, whole urban zones heretofore rented to these knowledge workers have become underutilized as companies look to cut costs by leaving the leases on their unused office spaces. In many cities this is becoming known as the “Donut Effect,” describing the flight outside the inner districts often occupied by financial institutions.

As London returns to work in the future, this team asks: what things of value will we bring to the urban centers from our current domestic bubbles, and can this address problems of urban vacancy and its inherent inequities? What if we can remake the urban centers to be more resilient to future crises by superimposing suburban models on urban contexts?

This study looks at building types previously used as solutions to crises that might be re-employed to make the city in the suburb’s image, bringing the bucolic back to London as we Domesticate the City.