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L. Ottolini

Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
Learning through practice: this is the starting point of the educational experience that we wish to present.

The One Man Living project's goal is to allow young fellows to approach architecture, not only through books or drawings, but also by building self-designed small livable environments.

It started as an experiment in 2007 with a group of 40 freshmen students as part of the Laboratory of Interior Architecture of the School of Architecture at the Politecnico di Milano.

Currently, it involves a large team of professors, PhD candidates and reaches much more students.

Paper, wood, plastic and metal: those are the materials with which students build their first architecture.
First year students are faced to the challenge of designing and then realizing, small living spaces for one person such as: emergency units, first housing for immigrants or homeless, units for singles, artists’ studios, shelters or "think tanks”.

There are not many opportunities for architecture fellows, especially in Italian universities, to be able to build their own projects or to see them built. Often, such experiences are obtained by attending workshops or international seminars, but hardly during the curricular activities.

The final students’ projects are developed from design to executive details taking into account basic requirements like: use green materials, low cost manufacturing and rational assembly principles.

Eventually a panel of experts will be called, as in a real architectural competition, to selects the "winner" project that will be concretely handcrafted by the students themselves, in the university campus, during the closing workshop.

One man living's purpose is to make the students aware of the problems and of the tools of an architectural project, from the initial idea and the first drawings to its realization.

So far nine selected prototypes have been built by the students in 1:1 scale.