Infrastructures of Care: Opening up “Home” as Commons in a Hot City

Abby Mellick Lopes
Stephen Healy
Emma Powers
Louise Crabtree
Katherine Gibson
Human Ecology Review

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?

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Suggested citation

Lopes, A. M., Healy, S., Power, E., Crabtree, L., & Gibson, K. (2018). Infrastructures of Care. Human Ecology Review24(2), 41-60.