How Housing Digitalization May Change the Ways the Built Environment Is Designed and Built

Elizabeth Christoforetti

This paper reflects upon the panel “How Is Digitalization Changing the Ways Housing Is Designed and Built?” held at the March 2022 symposium Bringing Digitalization Home. This panel was the first and only conversation of the symposium focused specifically on the architectural scale. The discussion revealed that the social, cultural, and disciplinary challenges surrounding digital transformation in housing are hurdles no less significant than the technological ones. Key themes included socio-technical challenges preventing the efficient industrial production of housing, namely the lack of industrial standards; and the socio-technical challenges embedded in the design of housing, namely the emerging creative challenge of human-machine collaboration. Both types of digitalization challenges require a clarified set of values to drive future progress and innovation through both public and private investment. This reflection ultimately concludes that housing digitalization reveals an imperative for structural redefinition within practices of the built environment and a need for public investment in research and development in the face of digital transformation.

This paper was presented as part of “Panel 1: How Is Digitalization Changing How Housing Is Designed & Built?” at the symposium Bringing Digitalization Home: How Can Technology Address Housing Challenges?, hosted by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in March 2022.