Modern Life

Concept / exhibition 2017
Will Galloway, Koen Klinkers,
Nicholas Reddon, Christopher Sjoberg

1. We don’t need to mass produce anymore.

2. We can build variety and quality.

3. We don’t need to stack identical pixels (even if they are beautiful in aggregate).

4. The future may be messier than we once imagined (and more interesting).

When we imagine a city like Tokyo or Hong Kong and declare that space is at a premium, what we really mean to say is that floor area is a commodity, and we need to conserve it. A rational position, the statement fits well with any strategy of maximization, whether the focus is on economic return or improved functionality. From this point of view the concept of poetic compact housing, the “existenz minimum” of early modernists, makes perfect sense. Layering transformable functions inside ever smaller spaces is entirely sensible. But the market is not rational. It declares that more rooms and more features = more quality, a notion quickly dispelled by actual life in a shoebox home. The idea of quality needs to be revisited and as the prospect of mass customization comes closer to reality the number of directions to explore are multiplying rather than converging.

What if we start from the opposite direction, and consider housing that aims at living well, living big? But maintain the strict control on floor space. How do we deal with that contradiction? We designed a tower. Made from 9 of the best houses (plus one pavilion) from the last hundred years of architectural history. The tower has a footprint of 50m2, meaning we can only take that much from each house. How much quality can be transferred from such a small piece? What if we look not at the limits of what fits into a regular 50m2 area, but instead examine how much quality can be accommodated in the same small space. At the very least we can learn what 50m2 really means, architecturally speaking. How much space is needed to make exceptional design anyway?

Things we might have learned in the process
1. Some of the best houses in the world are very very small (size doesn't matter)

2. Quality is not diminished by cutting a masterpiece into pieces

3. The works share an ambiguous approach to boundaries. Perhaps this is the actual point of modernism, the point we take to the future.