Analysis /

system patterns in housing.

The capacity to design our future is informed by an understanding of how we have created our past. We chose to explore the history of housing in this first year of the World House Project in order to understand how the human conception of home has influenced the design of the home through time.

The timeline is not meant to comprehensively outline innovations in history, but rather to identify trends in housing and to explore how the home was influenced by the mindset and culture of the times.  The narrative of each system we have explored is not necessarily linear or meant to demonstrate a progressivist viewpoint. Transformations, whether positive or negative, pepper history. They demonstrate instances where the philosophy of a culture calls out for change.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that some housing types, pioneered by some of the earliest cultures, such as hunter-gatherer or nomadic societies, have persisted to this day and have remained largely unchanged. In particular, these housing types are model examples of sustainable, well-strategized solutions applicable to their environment and indicative of their culture. Our research has helped us understand how much we have to learn from all periods of history and all cultures.

(text by Kar Yan Cheung / this infograph was developed and designed at the Institute without Boundaries)

Download the full timeline.pdf here




Graphic design

& research coordination


External reviewer

Institute without Boundaries

Toronto - 2007

Luigi Ferrara

Dianne Croteau

Thomas Lommée

Kar Yan Cheung

Evelyne Au-Navioz

Gavin Baxter

Kar Yan Cheung

Liz Huntly-Cooke

Reema Kanwar

Jennifer Lee

Thomas Lommee

Richard Macintosh

Gary Maloney

Heidi Nelson

Carmen Paz

Giorgiana Penon

Perin Ruttonsha

Sarah Traunum

Garth Tweedie

Adriana Eysler

Lorraine Gauthier

Jo Van Bostraeten

Julia Pope

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