Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Candela, Lillian (2019). Hacking Suburbia: An Architect's Reconsideration of the Home (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Beginning with the development of pattern books and their popularization in the 19th century, architects have struggled to determine their role in the homebuilding industry and contributing to a tension between architects, homebuilders and consumers. During the rise of pattern books, architects originally marketed themselves as ‘tastemakers’, but through the provision of patterns they became further circumscribed from the mass-produced housing market. Taste was no longer something that could be exclusively bought from an architect and in the last decade of the 20th century, mass-produced suburbs transitioned to being designed via online design tools offered by large homebuilder companies. Hacking Suburbia purports that if, as architects, we want to take the question of homebuilding and mass-produced houses seriously, we must critically engage the contemporary design tools provided by the homebuilding industry and intervene in them through ironic critique. The current online home design tools consider historic styles and elements to be arbitrary and instead sell essences of ‘hominess’ and the American Dream. Given this, how can architects ‘glitch’ existing online design tools and exacerbate these existing logics and essences. This is a meditation on the history of mass-produced and mass-consumed domesticity and the system through which it is currently produced – the result being 4 houses which exemplify the ways in which this ‘hacking’ can play out.


Pattern Book, Postmodern, Taste, Homebuilder, House



Date Posted: 03 June 2019