Author: Helena Polati Trippe
The home is a node situated at the intersection to complex systems of value, exchange and interaction. These include a multitude of policy and institutional interventions that may be fiscal, social, infrastructure related or environmental in nature, as well as the legal and financial systems that support housing provision. As users we are being asked increasingly to act as ‘prosumers’, entering into reciprocal relations of resource integration and value creation.
The home is also not just about shelter, it’s function as a commodity extends beyond its original use value. It is a cornerstone of asset based welfare, where “individuals are expected to accept greater responsibility for their own welfare needs by investing in financial products and property assets that appreciate over time.”1 It is expected that the home will mitigate effects of networks of capital flow on individual households. The affordability of homes poses a barrier to this vision, as the high value of and rising costs of living means people struggle to meet these costs.It is difficult to imagine that trends in asset based welfare, facilitated by the commodification of housing policy and finance, are reversible or even viable.
If the role of the home in asset based welfare is considered from a design perspective, the home is another interface, or ‘tap’, from which to draw welfare goods. This tap, however, does not rely solely on the government as its source but rather on a range of complex arrangements of institutions and services. Delivery through this tap involves more risk, uncertainty and complexity, as governments’ ability for delivery is subject to other agents and wider economic forces. If the view of the home as an interface is broadened, it could involve designing it as a platform where a range of services combine to support asset realisation, governments’ ability to deliver welfare goods and enhance the ability of asset holders, to utilise them as a productive force. This broadening of access, can in part, be used to ease risks associated with the complexity involved in delivery of welfare goods. New development and ownership models, can in turn democratise this access to asset accumulation by broadening its range and form.