On the Threshold

Social Housing, Shaerbeek, Brussels
On the Threshold The changing face of housing

Image: Social housing, Shaerbeek, Brussels, © Alain Janssens


The design of housing – buildings that will become homes – has always presented a great challenge for architects. Designed internally to accommodate the most intimate events of our lives, externally housing makes up 80% of the built environment around us. Its design forms the spaces of our local neighbourhoods, and the character of our towns and cities as well.

This online exhibition looks at – and under – the residential skin: not at internal housing layouts but the external housing shell – its face to the world. It shows how designers today are challenging traditional forms and re-interpreting the legacies of iconic schemes, using fresh ideas and new materials. In particular, it explores the importance of well-designed entrances and threshold spaces in providing that balance between security and the sense of welcome and delight that underlies our sense of 'home'.


The Changing Face of Housing

Cross-section of design for Chimney Pot Park, Langworthy, Manchester

A brief history of housing


Home Sweet Home

Living Room House, Glenhausen, Germany

Challenging traditional ideas about 'home'


Home Skin

Majolika House, Vienna

Creating a distinctive face to the outside world


Door to Door

Donnybrook Quarter

Between the public street and private home


Common Ground

View of the terrace of the Mirador building, Madrid, Spain

Communal spaces and shared amenities


Neighbourhood Watch

Facade of Burton Place, Manchester

Looking in and out: windows and screens


In my Backyard

Aerial view of a design for housing, Aylesbury, Buckhamshire

Inventive solutions to create exterior space


Ildefonsa Someillan Apartments, Havana

Spaces for leisure, relaxation and decoration


Based on the exhibition ‘On the Threshold: The changing face of housing’ from the V&A + RIBA Architecture Partnership, held 2 November 2006 - 27 May 2007 in Room 128a, Architecture Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Curators: Rob Wilson, Curator, Programmes, RIBA Trust, with Justine Sambrook (RIBA Trust) and Abraham Thomas (V&A).


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