STAY HOME: an interdisciplinary research project

The corona crisis has demanded of individuals, families and societies a complete re-assessment of the functions and boundaries of the home. The lockdown has required that private spaces accommodate typically public activities such as work, school, day-care, exercise, concerts, and religious congregations. Meanwhile, the everyday life of the household has become more segregated and hermetic. These shifts have made visible social, architectural, digital, and existential structures of the home, bringing to the fore risks and potential of relevance for future homes. 

Through an interdisciplinary approach, the STAY HOME project documents experiences and initiatives and identifies new insights and practices regarding the home during the corona crisis. It will trawl ethnographic archives and data generously shared by other corona projects, including The Digitalisation of Everyday Lives during the Corona-crisis (ITU/AAU) and the corona diary project at the National Museum of Copenhagen as well as data gathered by the STAY HOME scholars.

STAY HOME is directed by Professor Mette Birkedal Bruun, and the main research team consists of three PhD students and one assistant professor from four different disciplines at the Faculties of Theology and Humanities (UCPH), the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) and The Royal Danish Academy, School of Architecture: 

Anne-Milla Wichmann Kristensen’s  work is anchored in Systematic Theology. This PhD project is concerned with existential experiences in the home during the corona crisis, especially experiences of courage and anxiety. It examines the corona crisis through the theological concept of kairos (the right moment), analysing it as an existential crisis, which enables a new perception of time and a new understanding of history and life. Anne-Milla will study an ethnographic archive through the theology of Paul Tillich, asking what the corona crisis means for the experience of courage and anxiety in the home during the 2020s lockdown. 

Katrine Rønsig Larsen’s work is anchored in Family History. This PhD project is concerned with the significance of the corona crisis for experiences with family violence. Employing a history of experience approach, Katrine will analyse the historically and culturally contingent experiences of family violence in the context of societal transformation. Rather than establishing a stable notion of what family violence is and how it is experienced, her dissertation aims to uncover the unstable cultural understandings of violence in the family and to historicise the experience of violence itself.  

Katja de Neergaard’s work is anchored in Science and Technology Studies. This PhD project is concerned with the effects of the lockdown and increased digitalisation on how privacy is understood and enacted. It examines how digital technologies influence individuals’ ability to control and negotiate the thresholds of privacy by asking the following question: How is privacy enacted and transformed as a consequence of an increased digitalisation of the home during the lockdown? By analysing an ethnographic archive collected during the first lockdown from March-June in 2020, and by collecting additional material through digital methods, Katja will interrogate the effects of a welfare state in a state of exception and the consequences on privacy, specifically. 

Nicholas Thomas Lee’s work is anchored in Interior and Spatial Design. His project entitled, Dwelling in a Time of Social Distancing examines the unprecedented demands that the current corona crisis has placed on the private home interior and its architectural arrangement. With a focus on forms of dwelling and how we design and inhabit the domestic built-environment the following question is posited: In the midst of a ‘crisis’ in domestic architecture that has been amplified by the current corona crisis and its associated lockdowns, how might the architect reconceptualise the spatial organisation of the contemporary dwelling interior to better accommodate the needs of its inhabitants? Through ‘research by design’ experiments, the project explores the potential of threshold spaces and polyvalent places in a series of prospective dwellings, in the form of physical scale models and 1:1 spatial probes. 

The interdisciplinary approach of the STAY HOME project is developed in an ongoing exchange between the four researchers and with historical research into the home and its social, spatial, technological and existential implications conducted at the Danish National Research Foundation Centre for Privacy Studies.

This research blog will be concerned with the STAY HOME researchers’ collaborative work with concepts, theories and methods. Taking our point of departure in interdisciplinary discussions and academic exchange within the research team, we will present thoughts and reflections on concepts such as homeexperience, archive etc., which prove to be relevant for our work. We look forward to engaging in and contributing to the dialogues and discussions about The Home and the influence of the corona crisis on the social, digital, architectural and existential characteristics of present and future homes.