Border conditions of transitional housing: centering the lived experience of residents.
Reflections on social innovation from a UK case study.
Local governments in the UK are experimenting with innovative modular housing solutions - as a way to provide transitional accommodation for the most vulnerable amidst an unending housing crisis. Praised as a quick if not temporary fix, such solutions are often appraised for their sustainability performance, yet their impact on residents lives and socio-technical legacy remains unclear. This paper is envisaged as a first step in unpacking residents' perceptions of comfort in the transitional setting - at the frontier of housing precarity - across boundaries of outdoor and indoor spaces. A conceptual contribution, it focuses on the relationship between expectations of design and delivery, dignity and resilience for end-users; with research methods involving two phases of discovery and reflection.
The initial phase was based on narrative methods that explored perceptions of comfort involving eight residents living in a modern methods of construction (MMC) development built in 2020 in England. The second phase involved recorded dialogues and reflections between the authors on the socio-political dimensions embodied within the research insights gained in phase one. Through a dialectical exchange, and co-analysis of an assemblage of concepts in literature review and in the field, a set of reflections emerged. The outcomes of both phases led to two key findings. First, the research helps articulate expectations of comfort as embodied between diverse social boundary transitions experienced through different spatial scales (outdoor and indoor, macro and micro). So far literature on perceptions of comfort has tended to focus on specific settings - indoor or outdoor with transitions and boundaries viewed mainly through a physiological rather than social lens. Second, the paper emphasises the need for qualitative indicators, to appraise social innovation in the built environment, beyond performative examples.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Donagh Horgan, Sonja Oliveira
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