Footprint 32: Rethinking the Architecture of Dwelling in the Digital Age

What is dwelling today? When Martin Heidegger asked this question in his famous ‘Bauen Wohnen Denken’ lecture (1951), his narrative entailed a critique of the quantitative and technological approach to the post-war housing crisis. However, rather than the poetic habitation praised by Heidegger, dwelling today has to be conquered against the new logic of socio-economic and environmental challenges that are dismantling the boundaries between private and public life. In the digital age, houses and even neighbourhoods are being transformed in unexpected ways across the globe. Cheap and available mobility, lifestyle changes, global English, and the emergence of a new highly educated middle class are the drivers of a profound transformation of our cities, patterns of inhabitation, imagination, appropriation and consolidation of lived spaces. This phenomenon has a truly global resonance, although its effects have particular manifestations in different countries and regions, often further exacerbating the gap in wealth and opportunity. The way Airbnb has disrupted the livelihoods in many cities – from Mumbai to New York, to Amsterdam, São Paulo, and Johannesburg – is but one example of this phenomenon. With the Covid-19 pandemic, this process was further accelerated, making homes the prime locus for social exchange, leisure and income generation. The developments of the last years prompt us to rethink the question of dwelling once again.

In Capital is Dead (2019), McKenzie Wark invites readers to engage in a thought experiment where the capitalist class is superseded by the so-called vectoralist class, which are those who own the ‘vectors’ of information that have dramatically changed many features of our everyday life. For Wark, the rise of technology, financialisation, neoliberalism and biopolitics are nothing but the effects of the emergence of a class that have come to dominate the logistics of the information vector. Wark’s post-broadcast-era media, dominated by the vectoralist class, suggests an alternative conceptual framework to Zygmunt Bauman’s software-era, as portrayed in his Liquid Modernity (2000). Both suggest, however, that we live in times that challenge the temporalities of everyday life, somehow expanding Marcos Novak’s concept of ‘liquid architectures’ (1991), characteristic of the new cyberspace as created by global information processes.

Once a space that embodied the spirit of the era of hardware and its focus on the durable, the bulky, the solid and the heavy, dwelling in the software era has arguably developed into a different condition. Considering this shift, in this issue of Footprint editors aim to rethink the architecture of dwelling in the digital age, taking into account the current attributes of the everlasting housing crisis, the realities of global economies, the disruptive techno-infrastructure supporting it, and the profoundly ecological precarity of contemporary housing policies influencing dwelling practices worldwide. This issue welcomes contributions that address localised practices and examples, combining theoretical reflection and speculation with design positions. Editors invite potential contributors to explore the following questions and their broader implications:

  • Which research and design strategies are being developed to cater for new forms of user agency, social equity, and configurations of solidarity?
  • To what extent do contemporary social, economic and environmental challenges contribute to introducing new disciplinary approaches to the architecture of dwelling?
  • How is dwelling today challenged and transformed by platform urbanism and all the stacks of visible and invisible infrastructure that impact everyday urban life?
  • Where is the place for care? How do kinship and dwelling, intergenerational solidarity and responsibilities relate?
  • What is dwelling today for the growing number of urban invisibles and homeless people?
  • How do contemporary dwelling aspirations of the overexploited compare with those of the overdeveloped (living in the same city or in different parts of the world)?.
  • How can different patterns of inhabitation be framed, following Gautam Bhan’s proposal to rethink dwelling as a relational space (Bhan, 2017) in terms of transversality, temporality and opacity?

Proposals for full articles (6000–8000 words) and review articles (2000–4000 words) will be evaluated by the editors in the form of abstracts (max. 1000 words for full articles, max. 500 words for review articles) based on originality, methodological and conceptual clarity, pertinence, and contribution to the growth and development of knowledge on the subject. Abstracts must be submitted by 3 December 2021. The authors of selected abstracts will be invited to develop their contributions by 6 March 2022. Full articles will go through a double-blind peer review process, while review articles will be evaluated by the editors.

 We ask authors to refer to the Footprint Author Guidelines, available at:

 All contributors are responsible for securing permission to use images and copyrighted materials.

 For submissions and all other inquiries and correspondence, please contact the editors Nelson Mota and Dirk van den Heuvel at

 Footprint 31 will be published in the Spring of 2023.

Share this post

News from the field

Drawing Attention to the Periphery

October 25-27, 2023 Panel session for AHRA conference on Situated Ecologies of Care Portsmouth School of Architecture, UK. Submission deadline for abstracts: June 12, 2023 This paper session asks: How is the periphery reconfigured against collective life, culture,...

Research Assistant in the Field of Architecture and Landscape

Leibniz University Hanover The Faculty of Architecture and Landscape, Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, Department of Architectural Theory (Prof. Dr. Nathalie Bredella), invites applications for the position of a Research Assistant (m/f/d) in the...

Materia Arquitectura N°25: Out of Place Matter

MATERIA ARQUITECTURA is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes original research, which can be exploratory and speculative. It is also open to visual and imaginative proposals. Its aim is to contribute to the development and questioning of the discipline and...

German Colonial Building Cultures in 100 Primary Sources

Exhibition at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte Munich, Germany, 20 April – 30 June 2023 From about 1880 to 1920, the German Empire was one of the European colonial powers. Its possessions included territories on three continents: in Africa (German South-West...