41: Family Planning F/W 2015

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As family configurations evolve and atomize, and “exceptions” become the norm—divorced, blended, solo, cooperative, childless, single-parent, widowed, queer, aging, migrant, transnational, foster, adoptive, multigenerational—the material construct of our homes, institutions, and cities asks to be reconsidered.

This issue of Harvard Design Magazine is based on the premise that we need to imagine new, different spaces for living together. It confronts the persistent myth of the nuclear family and reconsiders the architectures that contain and reproduce it. It examines how family realities influence, and are influenced by, the spaces we inhabit, and the patterns of our existence in cities, suburbs, and the countryside. Do these spaces correspond to the way we live, or want to live? Do they enable and support, or dictate and confine? And how do other social constructs—corporations, institutions, communities—mirror or redefine familial configurations?

“Family Planning” looks at spaces of home and belonging, and notions of property, ownership, and connection, addressing questions of what constitutes a family and the legal overtones of inclusion, citizenship, and basic rights. In doing so, it interrogates and reimagines the space of the family unit, presenting alternatives, past and future, for diverse family configurations to flourish in the built environment.

Table of Contents

Editors' Letter

The Round Table

Jennifer Sigler


A Feminist Vision for Going Solo

Daphne Spain

A Theory of Everything

Claire Barliant

Built Gendering

Saskia Sassen

Child Migrants at Home

Jacqueline Bhabha

China’s Disappearing Family

Ou Ning

Doing Family: At Home in Polymedia

Mirca Madianou

Half of Everything

Sam Jacob

Households and Families: A Legal Mismatch

Katharine Silbaugh

Knife and Spork

Angie Keefer


McKenzie Wark

Ship Shape

Alex Kitnick


Breaking with Tradition

Christopher Herbert, Jennifer Molinsky

Building Stories: Unsettling Family in Mumbai

Vyjayanthi Venuturupalli Rao

FAMILI: Proxy Paranoia or Technological Camaraderie


From the Old Family—to the New

Christina E. Crawford

My Grandparents’ Shanghai Home: A Guided Tour

Jie Li

Not One of the Family: The Tight Spaces of Migrant Domestic Workers

Rachel Silvey, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas


Jeremy Till

Post-Familial Communes in Germany

Niklas Maak

Production/Reproduction: Housing beyond the Family

Martino Tattara, Pier Vittorio Aureli

Queer Communes: Living in Flux

Michael Bronski

TV Generations

Lynn Spigel

Wild City? The Migrant Settlements of Kampung Tower

Stephen Cairns


Destroying Family

Delia Duong Ba Wendel, Michael Hardt

Dispersing Intimacy

Bijoy Jain, Mohsen Mostafavi

Dragons, Poets, and the Real World

Martti Kalliala, Ursula K. Le Guin

Living on the Edge

Dolores Hayden, Hilde Heynen

The Is Mine

Drucilla Cornell, Lisa Haber-Thomson

Photo Essay

The Notion of Family

LaToya Ruby Frazier


A Dream Realized, but for Another Time

Sarah Lynn Lopez

Diversity of Lifestyles, Diversity of Incomes

Susanne Schindler

Home Making: The Power of Ordinary Politics

Brent Pilkey

Home Staging

Mohsen Mostafavi

On Children’s Noise

David Huber

Picnic: Iranian Style

Faryar Javaherian

Scenes from an Other Marriage

James Voorhies

Soft Architecture

Eva Díaz

The Exploded Bunker

Fabrizio Gallanti

The Unwanted’s Guide to US Housing Policy

Ellen J. Pader

To Design Is to Plan and Organize

Robert Wiesenberger

Zoned Out: Buildings and Bodies

Lori Brown


Album Beauty

Erik Kessels


Control Points

Daniel Rauchwerger, Megan Panzano

Orphan City

Michiel van Iersel, René Boer