Felicity Morris, Emily Niven, Joseph Willoughby

What is Comfort?

Modern minimum housing standards inversely become the maximum to a developer, due to economic ecosystems. We believe the position of architects should be stronger, challenging standards and making them more dynamic, therefore harder to exploit. Initial standards introduced in the UK had ambitious intentions. Their stipulations were better than what is currently being built, and initiated the notion that dignified and comfortable living was the responsibility of collective society and government. The challenge facing designers today is how to change the status quo when things are fine. Making everything just about bearable however, does not constitute comfort, nor good architectural design. We began our thesis research during COVID-19 lock-down in the UK, when the weaknesses of our home environments became magnified. We developed a methodology for challenging standards by creating a human-centred approach to designing domestic architecture, with comfort at its core.

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Our research by design approach disrupts the norm of domestic architecture through the creation of a dynamic manual, whereby changing parameters and protagonists alters the hierarchy of comfort. We identified obstacles of the home that restrict our behaviours most, namely the kitchen, bathroom and sofa. The main disruptor comes from using public counterparts of these domestic programmes as design catalysts, with provocative outcomes. The kitchen is exploded throughout the home, catering for public picnics and intimate dinner dates. The bath floods the plan, creating an amphibious lounge, obscured from the street by environmental phenomena. The sofa weaves through surfaces and datums, spreading its softness all over the house. Disrupting these intrinsic components of UK homes enables us to challenge the pre-conceived notions of domestic architecture, to influence a new form of design with inherent comfort. The power of designing through disruption allows us to reimagine everything, then extract findings to use to lobby government to redefine standards. The stigma surrounding the term “social housing” in the UK places a mark of disgrace on the typology. From the inception of the Welfare state, successive governments have abdicated responsibility for housing people, resulting in mass production through super-standardisation. Our terraced street testing ground enables us to distil from the extravaganza an agenda for government, that could be placed in front of the ministry of housing presenting an opportunity for a new approach to housing in Britain.

To read the manual, click on the front cover

Click on the comfort trilogy to explore the designs and question your own definitions of home and comfort.

Thesis Tutors

Dr Rosa Urbano Gutierrez
Ms Johanna Muszbek

Thesis Critics

Prof Soumyen Bandyopadhyay
Ian Ritchie
Neil Swanson