Infrastructures of care: opening up ‘home’ as commons in a hot city

Abby Mellick Lopes
Stephen Healy
Emma Power
Louise Crabtree
Katherine Gibson

What does it mean to be at home in a hot city? One response is to shut our doors
and close ourselves in a cocoon of air-conditioned thermal comfort. As the climate
warms, indoor environments facilitated by technical infrastructures of cooling are
fast becoming the condition around which urban life is shaped. The price we pay for
this response is high: our bodies have become sedentary, patterns of consumption
individualized, and spaces of comfortable mobility and sociality in the city, termed
in this paper as “infrastructures of care,” have declined. Drawing on the findings
of a transdisciplinary pilot study titled Cooling the Commons, this paper proposes
that the production of the home as an enclosed and private space needs to be
rethought as an infrastructure that potentially undermines more social, convivial,
and environmentally sensitive responses to a warming world. The paper asks, what
role might design now play in developing alternative infrastructures of care that start
with the idea of “home” as a distributed proposition?

Suggested citation

A. Mellick Lopes, S. Healy, E. Power, L Crabtree and K. Gibson, 2018 “Infrastructures of care: opening up ‘home’ as commons in a hot city” Human Ecology Review 24, 2: 41-59.