Incremental Housing: A Short History of an Idea

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This text presents an historical review of incremental housing approaches. It examines the different terminologies related with the production of housing and the design of house types that can accommodate growth and change through time. This historical account analyzes policies, narratives, and practices based on the progressive social and spatial development of residential communities designed for or built in different geopolitical contexts, spanning one century, from the 1920s until the turn of the 2020s. This chapter examines how managerial and design decisions are interwoven in the different incremental housing approaches and discusses how this cross-disciplinary approach can contribute to shape new architectural narratives and practices and to contest the commodification of housing. Architects and urban designers, the text concludes, can explore incremental housing approaches as a field of operation, where they can become key players in processes of negotiation and mediation involving multiple stakeholders, and stimulate a reconceptualization of incremental housing approaches to frame it as a tool to promote spatial justice and an equitable city.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe New Urban Condition
Subtitle of host publicationCriticism and Theory from Architecture and Urbanism
EditorsLeandro Medrano, Luiz Recaman, Tom Avermaete
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
ISBN (Electronic)9781003100362
ISBN (Print)9780367607609
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • incremental housing
  • Architecture


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