Post-war modernist debates on how to reconsider architecture as a practice that creates community are mostly revolving around the notion of Habitat. These discourses distance themselves from the uniformity and dogmatic character of Western functionalism, the Bauhaus and the International Style. The post-war order with its novel social dynamics and geopolitical realignments also shaped the way in which architects now thought about building and design as a practice of organizing communal living. At the core of the concept of Habitat lies a radical change of perspective – from the sociology of housing to an anthropology of living conditions.
Reconsidering spontaneous building practices, local housing cultures, and design traditions in the Global South led to a paradigm shift in post-war discourses. Today, inhabiting is considered a networked practice, embedded in spaces of different scopes and scales, various materialities and geopolitical constellations. Postwar achitects and designers developed these assumptions in a dialogue with anthropological concepts describing the house as a “modus operandi” (Pierre Bourdieu), meaning that it is involved in and influences human actions. Today, in the face of threats on a planetary scale, critical design practices are taking up this trail with a leap in scale: from the house society to the planetary community. Design and anthropology have thus become increasingly intertwined in discourses on co-habitations and the associated epistemological upheavals. Anthropocentric views of the world and the underlying separation between nature and humanity are being questioned and the relationships and coexistences between human and non-human actors are being renegotiated.