logo image




Living in Density is about how people live in growing cites.

It came about in the wake (or midst) of debates over housing standards, land use and design faced by densifying cities in both the developed and developing world. In the United States, community groups clash with builders, developers and city officials over the transformation of their neighborhoods. In China, Venezuela or India, local governments routinely impose density on neighborhoods that can’t represent themselves to make way for unprecedented rates of urbanization. Eminent domain and the need for expansion conflict with local sovereignty and tradition ways of living.

Photo credit: Creative Commons / Frans de Wit

Photo credit: Creative Commons / Frans de Wit

This blog is based on the expectation that cities all over the world will grow dramatically over the coming decades. Higher density and new housing solutions are already needed.

This blog rejects the assumption that density is qualitative; higher density is in itself neither good nor bad. Densification can either improve or diminish the quality of life for those living in the city. Likewise, examples throughout the website show that living in small spaces is not intrinsically worse than in larger spaces.

The critical question is, if not size, what factors do matter?

Living in Density, therefore, looks to explore how living in small spaces can contribute to both urban growth and improved quality of living. Design, technology, economics, urban context, codes and social norms all come into play. This informal, ongoing research project intends to expand the perception of small spaces and the dialogue around densification.


About the Author
Joseph Swain is a designer based in Seattle, WA, where he enjoys living in a 2-bedroom, 650 s.f. apartment with excellent location. He currently practices design in an architecture firm and occasionally teaches design and drawing at the University of Washington. He has training in architecture, planning and, less recently, mathematics.