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 instead build for variation and quality.

3. We don’t need to stack calibrated pixels (even if they do add up to beautiful aggregate forms).

4. The future may be messier than we once imagined. But also 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 started from the opposite direction, and considered housing that aims at living well, living big? But maintain the strict control on floor space. How do we even begin to deal with that contradiction? To test this idea we designed a tower. The tower is made from 9 of the best houses (and 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? How do they connect? 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?

3 lessons (There are probably more)
1. Some of the best houses in the world are very very small (size doesn't matter)

2. Cutting a masterpiece into pieces does not diminish its power

3. The works collected in the tower are diverse visually but all share an ambiguous approach to boundaries. Perhaps this is the actual point of modernism, the point we can take to the future.