The Welcome Home

MArch Thesis

This thesis studies how nostalgia has been used to construct shared spatial and social expectations through the envelope of the American home.

Then, based on the simple proposition to make the home bigger so that it might host a broader collective, it explores how these expectations can be subverted through distortions and exaggerations of the domestic envelope.

As these exaggerations reach the limits of symbolic legibility, they begin to suggest alternate internal organizations which have the potential to shape the social relationships and negotiations of a new collective within.

The site for this thesis is Lowell, Massachusetts, a once-prosperous textile mill town on the Merrimack River. Lowell is chosen for two of its defining features: its robust preservation campaign, which perpetuates a flattened representation of Lowell’s collective identity that is rooted in a 1970s idea of 19th century domestic architecture, and its long history of immigration – today, approximately one quarter of Lowell’s population is foreign born.

These conditions provide an opportunity to appropriate Lowell’s own nostalgia in the design of a new civic building – the Welcome Home – that serves a broader collective of local and newcomer.