- Post-Industrial Domestic
The house reformatted for the Craft Class
In this project, we were asked to reflect on the possibilities for architecture in framing our everyday in a capitalist society. We've reached an awkward point in our economy- it's in crisis, which means something is off. We're seeing the industrial system that brought on our current prosperity vanish, or at least change drastically. On a much smaller scale, although we've found ways to supply almost every town in America with cheap goods, we feel like we're missing something. We want to have a hand in making things again- not to necessarily carry the burden of making everything for ourselves, but of making something. You see this in the rise of DIY culture, the interest in off-the-grid lifestyles, the emergence of a creative class. Cooking and craft shows are growing rapidly. People are taking up knitting and gardening again. And the way in which we can access and share information has completely aided this. We want to learn, create, make and we want to show it off. "Home" is an idea that has evolved as we have evolved as a society. For this project, I wanted to reformat the idea of home and a house to the emergence of a creative class.
This project has been sited in a suburb on the northwest side of Ann Arbor, which not surprisingly, looks a lot like every upscale suburb everywhere else. We've been asked to consider the site in 20 - 30 years from now and that it's been abandoned for that time. It's not much of a stretch because we know that there's an issue with the suburbs. They are considered boring, isolating, and wasteful. Still, a large and growing portion of the world are living in suburbs. They offer safety and security, space and ownership. Lars Lerup, former Dean at Rice University, asks us to give them a chance. Perhaps the suburban model is not totally off, just immature and in need of some tweaks. For this project, I wanted to make some updates to the suburban model, while still preserving some qualities they hold. So, the cul-de-sac stays, but I wanted to add some density back. Lot sizes were reduced to about a third. There are still individual homes, but they are more dense and house a different group than the nuclear family. A new social group is emerging that fits better with the Craft Class- groups of 6 - 12.
- The program for this home is a couple who owns the house. They are starting and own a furniture company. They rent two rooms to younger individuals- one works at a craft butcher in a neighboring cul-de-sac, the other is an aspiring photographer. They also rent a floor to a family of four. The mother goes to work in the city, the kids go to a local school. The father of this family takes care of the house and the garden, the photographer helps him. I'm choosing this group of people because I wanted to help move the design forward in a more specific way, but this group also represents some general changes I think are important. In this model, all parties benefit economically with reduced burden. The business owners are able to reduce the financial burden of their shop by collecting rent from those renting rooms. Those renting rooms are relieved from the burden of ownership, which is risky and inflexible. In more intimate connection, there are opportunities for paying rent in non-monetary ways. The father and the photographer chip in by making meals, gardening, cleaning, etc. For the photographer, this provides an opportunity to develop her work without the direct pressures of the market- finding a job that provides the income and benefits needed.