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 Photographer: © Pedro Kok. Source: plataformaarquitectura


The past year 2020 has been a turning point in the way we work. Most people, as far as their jobs allow it, have been forced to move the office to their homes.

This situation generates the problem of having to carry out their work activities from home surrounded by domestic obstacles: children noise, distractions, domestic tasks, etc. 

What is meant by workshops house? How have they evolved throughout history?. Read about it just below.


Evolution of the workshop house


In ancient times, it was common to live close to the work space. In ancient Rome, we can already observe this clear situation. If we look at the Roman domus, it only had a symmetrical floor plan where the tabilium was the most important room and it marked the segmentation between the public and private areas, separated by wings or corridors.

In the Middle Ages, the typical bourgeois house combined the house with the workspace. They were distributed as follows: the main floor was mainly destinated to housing, but we could also find the craftsman's workshop there. The part of the house, where people ate, slept or received visitors, was a single room.

We can also mention the Renaissance palace typology of the XVI century, which had its origin in the extension of the medieval house, adding a courtyard for the courtiers. The house was organized around a courtyard:, on the first floor we could find the stores and on the second floor, the dwelling, where the family owning the house, servants and employees lived together.


In the17th century we find the bourgeois house, whose main difference is that it grows in height, up to four or five floors. It is still built around an inner courtyard, where the lower floors are used as workspaces and the upper floors are used as living areas.

With industrialization, working activities were moved to factories and the houses was no longer the place for work. As artisans became tradesmen, workspaces began to be built separately from housing, which meant that employees had to find a place to live.

This fact reflected the need to turn the home into an independent and special place, and in the 19th century the total rupture between homes and workspaces was reaffirmed, largely due to industrial development. Large factories with thousands of employees appeared.


In the 20th century, the modern home continued to be separated from the work space. There was a need to personalize the house and to differentiate its spaces to get the most out of them.

But, in the 1990s, thanks to the development of urban mobility, new technologies and thanks to the population of personal computers, a large number of workplaces and offices emerged. With the access to Internet, this space was delocalized, reducing the importance of face-to-face work.

Nowadays, housing must once again become a flexible space, being easy to be adapted to people's needs. New multifunctional spaces that can be used for various purposes are becoming popular, making the house more adaptable and one step closer to becoming a workshop house again.

Source: despiertaymira


The workshop house today


The globalization and digitalization of some professional profiles, as well as the emergence of new jobs that are developed around Internet, have made teleworking a trendy option.

And this comes at the best moment possible. Due to the current situation and the health alert in which we find ourselves,remote connections have become the best method for people not to have to travel to the offices where their work centers are installed, and thus avoid daily commuting contact with other people.

Therefore, the need to merge the workplace with the dwelling and return to the workshop house reappears. Workshop house refer to spaces intended for housing, in which a professional activity is also carried out.

But are homes ready for professional activities? and how are our homes responding to being converted into workplaces?

The reality is that, according to a study on confinement, housing and livability conducted in 2020, 92% of households report having at least one person teleworking or studying remotely.

It would be necessary to delve deeper into the particularities or details of each job and its degree of adaptability to the environments, but generally the need to include workspaces in the house could require the adoption of the following measures:

  • To review the regulations on new construction or renovations
  • To ensure adequately equipped spaces and supplies
  • To agree with the companies on the investment for these issues

Finally, it is necessary to take into account policies and regulations about teleworking, as well as the possible improvements in the layout of cities and rural areas, which will allow the emergence of workshop houses far from urban environments. Not only there would  be a better distribution of the population in the cities, but also an exodus to rural areas where to find a better standard of living.

Master in Collective Housing UPM/ETH

The Master of Advanced Studies in Collective Housing is a professional and international postgraduate programme that is developed on a full-time basis, dealing with advanced architectural design in the city and housing. It is designed and taught jointly by the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).


The application period for MCH2022 is already opened, and it will remain so till 31.01.2022 or until vacancies are filled. 


For more information, click here!

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