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The best houses are cheap, weird and fleeting - click opera
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Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 11:38 am
The best houses are cheap, weird and fleeting

Adrian Searle interviews German artist Thomas Schütte in today's Guardian about his newly-unveiled Model for a Hotel, the latest project for the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. It was originally going to be called Hotel for the Birds, and takes its place in a growing sub-division of Schütte's oeuvre, the artist's fanciful architectural models. He's made, for instance, a series of one-man houses -- the ironic existenzminimum theme so dear to Rafael Horzon and others marked by the Bauhaus's researches in this area -- as well as a House for Terrorists, "the chimney at a jaunty angle, the wall panels in primary colours," Searle writes. "Schütte has even fitted miniature sinks and a toilet. The model is sort of sleek and funky. The thinking is that if you were to give terrorists a nice house, they wouldn't bother terrorising people any more."



Thomas Schütte's architectural models haven't made it into Die Gestalten Verlag's excellent new coffee table book Spacecraft: fleeting architecture and hideouts, though Thomas Demand's have, which shows that the editors and I are on the same page about how artists are making some of the most interesting architecture these days (my favourite thing at the last big spate of art fairs here in Berlin was the fantasy architecture of Matthew Houlding).



With mainstream architecture increasingly being taken over by boring managerial types on the one hand and flashy hyped iconic sharkitects on the other, it falls to artists to capture our imagination with dwellings that break the mold. They might be people as sombre as the late Bernd Becher, whose flat, grey documentary shots of decrepit industrial buildings nevertheless packed more charisma and enchantment than any finny office-and-shops development. Or they might be flamboyant self-proclaimed "architectural parasites" like Berlin-based Iranian Shahram Entekhabi, whose thing is to customize existing ("host") architecture with stripey red tape which, accumulating, obscures its facades completely.



The Spacecraft book is, thankfully, high on quirk and escapism, and happy to cross the boundaries that usually divide art from architecture from design. You'll find Simon Starling's shed and Erwin Wurm's Fat House, a sort of architectural comfort food, a Pillsbury dough house that talks to you reassuringly, and looks like it could be eaten in an emergency -- if those terrorists housed by Thomas Schütte decide they don't like their accommodation after all, for instance.



Other favourites from Spacecraft: the brilliantly dense chic shanty towns of Dionisio Gonzalez (the Shanty Town chapter also includes all manner of weird and wonderful sheds), spreads for old Click Opera favourites like Terunobu Fujimori and Nathan Coley, and the attention given to cheap, fleeting structures (especially those built for temporary exhibitions). Sometimes I think the only reason I've been, so far, uninterested in owning the structure I live in is that architects just don't build their structures cheap, weird or fleeting enough. But then I'm the kind of guy who always likes the building site more than the building.

26CommentReplyShare


imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
Re: Which dwelling do you like best?


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 11:17 am (UTC)
Re: Which dwelling do you like best?

Wurm seems to have been influenced in that House Attack piece by the Shark Attack thing erected by a BBC Radio Oxford DJ in his house:



Is this the real sharkitecture?


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maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Which dwelling do you like best?

I vote for the squirrelbucket.


ReplyThread Parent
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC)

What do you think of Passivhaus?

I have already told most people where I would like to live.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 10:21 pm (UTC)

One of the buildings I like most in the Spacecraft book is an ultra-low energy one:



Michael Reynolds' Earthship Biotecture in New Mexico.


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maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)

WINS THE GOLD.


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cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
cap_scaleman
Fri, Nov. 9th, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)


ReplyThread Parent
maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
Fri, Nov. 9th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)

That's pretty nice. Hang that thing on the tree when they put it up in Rockefeller Plaza, live there for the season and keep coming out screaming at people to get the fuck out of my living room.


ReplyThread Parent
alphacomp
alphacomp
Digital Video Camera
Sat, Nov. 10th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)


I wish I lived in Myst too!


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Nov. 10th, 2007 06:48 am (UTC)

Myst was an amazing game. You know, when I blogged earlier in the week about Charlie Brooker, I re-read his piece I hate Macs, which specifically cites Myst as a reason Macs are rubbish:

"Myst, the most pompous and boring videogame of all time, a plodding, dismal "adventure" in which you wandered around solving tedious puzzles in a rubbish magic kingdom apparently modelled on pretentious album covers, originated on the Mac in 1993. That same year, the first shoot-'em-up game, Doom, was released on the PC. This tells you all you will ever need to know about the Mac's relationship with "fun"."

Myst was quite static, and you couldn't kill anyone in it, but texturally it was amazingly high-res, imaginative and completely enveloping. To prefer the visceral-but-jaggy Doom to this enchantment... well, that says a lot about someone's attitude to life, I think. Or death.


ReplyThread Parent
alphacomp
alphacomp
Digital Video Camera
Sat, Nov. 10th, 2007 08:12 am (UTC)

Myst was really inspirational for me; it was the thing that made me want to learn everything I could about making things on computers. I didn't get that feeling from Doom; just a weird nightmare about the pixellated imp(although the Marathon series was a really good example of how you could turn the FPS into a far more subtle, interesting experience).
Generally a lot of games made on the mac or other artistically-focused computers like the Amiga or ST had this extra layer of aesthetic and conceptual subtlety that didn't come out in a large portion of PC games.

Have you ever played Out of This World? It's probably one of the first games whose designer made a deliberate effort in making a gestamkunstwerk out of a game.


ReplyThread Parent
maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
maps_or_guitars
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 04:53 pm (UTC)

I'd suggest Gehry, but he only does expensive, weird and fleeting.


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miss_contraire
miss_contraire
axelhoney
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)

many of us live in our own personal fat house.


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youwhowereborn
youwhowereborn
animals rule, timothy conquered, f.y.mf'ing p.s.
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)

I live in Montreal in this:


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)

Pretty!


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC)

I could never date a home-owner. They inspire anger to the point I want to hit them. And have done. It is a non-negotiable. Spending their lives enslaved to something so ugly.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 09:25 pm (UTC)

If I could block mortgagees from reading my blog I would. Unfortunately I can't, so it limps on half-hearted.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 8th, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)

Entertain people who disgust you to the core, I can think of better things to do.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Fri, Nov. 9th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
small and cozy

The pictures you put here remind me of Makoto Masuzawa's tiny house.
http://9tubohouse.com/designers_file/masuzawa.html
Very small and cozy....
MOMO A


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grzeg
grzeg
grzeg
Fri, Nov. 9th, 2007 09:27 am (UTC)

I can’t help but think that you too bought this book from PRO QM, and somehow know the design network that went behind its making. In any case, you can go to Galerie Aedes and find out from the editors themselves if really artists are the ones making some of the most interesting architecture these days, and it is up to them to capture our imagination with dwellings that break the mold...

Also, last I read, God is dead, the author is dead, history is dead, etc... while Nietzsche, Benjamin, Kojeve, Koolhaas, and, on the day-before-yesterday, you were at it, you could have added Western art as well, because it ain’t happenin’ anywhere right now west of the Urals.

On the topic of dwelling, I find your ownership argument suspect only because you are still living in a normative dwelling that you would otherwise so despise owning, and (I presume) have dwelt in variations of the one you’re currently living in (i.e. the box) all your life. Why not take the plunge and rent a cheap, weird or fleeting structure somewhere for sometime longer than an extreme vacation and see if it’s truly a (physically / mentally / socially / environmentally, etc.) sustainable way of living?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Nov. 9th, 2007 11:49 am (UTC)

Interesting structures for rent are extremely difficult to find. My approach is more the Japanese one of having a minimal living space then treating the surrounding city -- and particularly public services like swimming pools and libraries -- as an extension.

One good pad extension, by the way, is living next door to someone who works at Die Gestalten Verlag and therefore being able to blag free books from time to time in exchange for a review! Only the ones I'm really enthusiastic about, though.


ReplyThread Parent
grzeg
grzeg
grzeg
Fri, Nov. 9th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)

Ha! And that's not an inexpensive book...


But to be a contemporary flâneur of Berlin! The idea that the city is your house is romantic, but also practical (at an economic standpoint, it's cheaper… more floor space for less or no money)… the quartiers are your rooms, the cafés and parks are your anterooms, salons, and parlours, shops are your closets, restaurants are your dining halls, the signs/graffiti are your paintings, etc… Now, would you rather be on the street / in a café than at your apartment? Is Berlin that much a better furnished and hospitable “interior” than your own home?


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Nov. 10th, 2007 06:52 am (UTC)

Now, would you rather be on the street / in a café than at your apartment? Is Berlin that much a better furnished and hospitable “interior” than your own home?

Berlin's services definitely extend my home, but don't trump or cancel it. Finally, I'd rather be at home with my girlfriend (we're playing chess a lot at the moment), my rabbit, and my own choice of music or films or websites than out at a party or bar or club. The places in Berlin I love are libraries, museums, cafes, art galleries, bookshops, swimming pools... There are so many. I really feel at home in the city. But I can't be out using them more than three hours a day, say. And I'd probably rather be in Tokyo. That goes without saying!


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