Sean Wee

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My thesis is concerned with the design of a framework for a series of dwellings for social housing in Dundee, in response to the city’s overcrowding crisis observed via the lens of studentification. The aim of my thesis is to determine the basic spatial needs and requirements of modern-day dwellings; and to develop a system of design principles that can provide optimum living conditions within a minimal footprint, via a variety of modules that demonstrate spatial variety within a structural system. Case studies of projects from different countries and times help inform key design principles and strategies that, while studied primarily on the inner city of Dundee in this thesis, have universal applications. To further test these principles and strategies, a site in Kuching, Malaysia is used as the location of a secondary site. With a need for sustainable urban development in key parts of post-industrial Dundee, the scheme aims to showcase a self-sufficient residential area that encourages self-organisation, social interaction, and a culture of shared spaces and functions. A contemporary rethinking of the more traditional row housing typology, the result is a sequence of residential blocks that are punctuated by small gardens and intimate courtyards.

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Current day and future needs and lifestyles must be met when considering the designing and construction of new homes. The group aspect of this unit brought forward insights on future developments in Dundee, with the aim to propose sustainable architectural strategies and solutions that would tackle overcrowding; an issue that, based on our research, plagued Dundee as far back as the early 1920s, evidenced in correspondences with Winston Churchill.

Dundee City Council plans to construct 528 households per annum over the next decade, spread out on allocated housing sites, primarily greenfield areas, demarcated around the city. Our group proposal is a combination of architectural strategies and solutions to tackle overcrowding while setting higher, holistic standards of living within the inner city. In a time when many parties involved focus on quantity of new homes, a lack of focus on quality is becoming evident; with the rush to build quickly and cheaply potentially risking unnecessary problems in the future.

The scheme in this thesis is part of the housing section of the group masterplan, and one of the two housing solutions proposed. As mentioned in the strategy section of our group booklet, the research and analyses on housing is intended to determine a theoretical standard for future proposals for housing developments. As such, this thesis examines precedent studies of different locations and eras, absorbing and adapting the appropriate design principles for effective housing; with emphasis on outdoor areas, room sizes, and close-by facilities, designed and built as a series of appropriately high-density dwellings.

These principles aim to become part of a larger framework, a set of design concepts and elements that can create empathetic places and spaces; not just onsite in the Peddie Street industrial estate in Dundee, but beyond as well. To test the universal application of the strategies, a site in my hometown of Kuching, Malaysia is taken as a secondary project.

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