House Housing. An untimely history of architecture and real estate In nineteen episodes Housing / Una storia inattuale dell’architettura e dei beni immobiliari in diciannove episodi

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Abstract

House Housing is an exhibition installed by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture in the third-floor apart- ment of Columbia University’s Casa Muraro in June 2014, to coincide with the opening of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. Assembled by a team of researchers at Columbia and staged as an open house, it represents the beginning of a long-term project that centers on the critical analysis of architecture’s engagement with real estate development, particularly in the design of housing. The exhibi- tion responds unsolicited to Biennale curator Rem Koolhaas’s theme of “Fundamentals,” which includes what Koolhaas calls the “fundamen- tals of our buildings, used by any architect, anywhere, anytime.”1House Housing replies with a multimedia sample of economic fun- damentals that show modernity’s basic facts under construction—by governments, industries, institutions, and cultures—beginning in the early twentieth century. Its nineteen brief, historical episodes, running from 1910 to 2014, locate housing at the center of the current economic regime, with the United States as an influential node in a transnation- al network. In architecture, economic fundamentals begin from the ground up. The laws of real estate, relating to the acquisition of land, the financing of construction, the cost of building maintenance and ser- vices, profit from rent or resale, the value of equity, or the price of credit, inexorably constrain any building component (like a window) or any building type (like a house). They are visible even in the residential work of such singular figures as Frank Lloyd Wright, not least because the Greek oikos, or household, forms the root of the word “economy” itself. But look closely and you will see that what seems fundamental, basic, or natural is, like any other law, a historical artifact subject to change.House Housing narrates its episodes in a mixture of domestic media that range across the century, from phonograph to television, answering machine to iPad, thereby converting the apartment into a whispering, humming history machine. Though they mainly focus on the continen- tal United States, the discrete episodes are excerpts from transnational processes. As such, they address matters of universal concern, even in non-market situations. Their objects range from houses designed by fig- ures as well-known as Wright, to a seemingly ordinary gated community in Florida. Their untimeliness is twofold. First, these episodes return us to financial matters widely discussed in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 foreclosure crisis but now largely abandoned, by mainstream discourse, in favor of greener pastures. Second, the historical episodes, which are assembled non-chronologically, disclose surprising repeti- tions—of themes, tendencies, and actions. This reminds us that the eco- nomic infrastructures on which architecture rests are the outcome of such repetitions, rather than an a priori, natural ground.House Housing is about those infrastructures, where “infrastruc- ture” is defined as that which repeats. Every time we turn on the faucet, the water system repeats. Every time a house is bought or sold, the real estate system repeats. But every transaction also reconfirms and rebuilds that system, which in turn builds houses, which, in turn, cannot be built without architectural techniques that shape them, and stories that establish their value. In this way, the laws of real estate and the laws of architecture are constituted and reconstituted together, as effortlessly as f
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine0
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2014

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