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Student Showcase Archive

Helena Polati Trippe

PhD Work

PhD work

Building for Innovation, Affordability and Inclusiveness: The Home as a Service

Access to affordable housing is currently critical issue for countries across the developed world and many developing nations. Housing policy and production is premised on a macro level understanding of aggregate housing demand and supply. It also sets parameters for the degree citizens can control and manage the housing they inhabit, through models of tenure, ownership and association. Increasingly current models are unable to respond to changing economic and user demands to offer affordable, innovative and inclusive solutions.

The project’s primary purpose is to understand how we can address affordability for users. In the context of increasing affordable options for users, the project will consider viability for the stakeholders involved in the production of homes, including developers, landlords and the public sector. Both affordability and viability will be explored as key elements to increase the elasticity of housing supply.

The research project proposes that housing and the home can be designed as a 'service infrastructure', where policy, markets and housing products combine to form part of a service ecology that transforms user experience. Housing policy development can be interpreted as designing services for the effective functioning of cities. The discipline of service design, can therefore be deployed as a methodology to support policy development and implementation.

The object of service design is designing experiences and the system of relations and resources needed to produce such experiences. It is is premised on the idea that experience and value can be optimised by the effective deployment of multiple contacts touchpoints - in a system of interactions. The project explores how service design can help us to rethink the home, and understand its meanings and adapt to changing practices of living. It is not concerned with the design of the built form. Rather it suggests that design thinking can help us consider the heterogeneity of individual needs and aspirations,through an understanding of the home and practices of inhabiting. It applies user-centred design logic to map user experiences, expectations and desired paths.

By shifting the focus to the experience of dwelling and accessing housing, service design can help us develop a comprehensive understanding of the links between structural,institutional, individual spheres and their cumulative impact on the experience of the built form and the home. I will explore how mapping these links helps us identify opportunities where new value can be generated either through re-configuring links, unlocking untapped capabilities or adding new layers. This understanding can help us conceptualise new projections of space and its utilisation. Utilisation can be explored through new tenure models as well as re designing the use of the home to generate rather than just consume resources. These will require a service infrastructure to enable its deployment and actualisation. The research proposes that if a consideration on different use patterns can help unlock solutions for the housing sector, then service design is best placed to explore how these solutions can be translated into reality.



  • Helena Polati Trippe
  • PhD


    School of Design


    Service Design, 2012–

  • Helena Trippe is from São Paulo, Brazil and moved to London to study at Goldsmiths University, where she graduated with a BA (Hons). She specialised in Urban Sociology and Cultural Studies and, in her last year, explored the expression of Brazilian cultural identity on the built form. She continued to pursue her interest in cities and the urban form at the LSE where she undertook an interdisciplinary MSc in Cites, Space and Society. As part of her final project, Helena explored the role of social movements, active in the centre of São Paulo, in shaping urban development, housing policy and the expression of citizens’ rights to the city.

    In her career she has worked on a number of housing, community and economic regeneration and master planning projects. She has specialised in housing and the development of co regulation, co design and co production of housing services.Helena has advised a number of public, private and third sector clients accross the UK on project planning, strategy and delivery, policy, research and is an expert at community consultation.

    Helena is currently exploring the potential of service design to develop new housing products and as a tool for public policy development through her practice based research degree at the RCA.