This proposal is an interpretation of a condition. The condition of current and past project housing. The project operates on a local and global level, it seeks references from within the context of the “home”, and validation in the application of intent. It tests and attempts to bridge the notion that architecture is a model for the wealthy. It questions the failed ideology of modernity to analyse the model. Can it ever be relevant in its quest to quench the thirst of the masses for which it so desperately desired?
Maybe if we give it a few nip and tucks.
The plan of our proposal employs a Modern house icon – Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth house as the starting moment. The building symbolised the modernist ideology and also architectural technique in the quest for modernity. A Modernity, avoiding the local condition or culture. An absence of critical regionalism. This canon is reconsidered and recognisable only in plan, the programme has been manipulated and re-sized to 120m² and re-planned for multiple site orientations and programme configurations. It can be a two bedroom, three bedroom, or even four bedroom model, all within the one plan footprint. Now everybody can own an icon. The architectural object is removed from the class of the bourgeois and is now available to home buyers for $120,000. The plan informs landscape and carport location and also ties in closely with the pragmatic issues called for in the brief. Inherent and of residue, are moments where the canon is still recognised.
The major architectural gesture is an extruded gabled roof that turns the box into a prism. This technique employs the sign of Australian suburbia – the pitched roof – as validation. It is the gesture that most commonly used as distinction between a “modern” and “not-so-modern” dwelling. With a pitched roof, this is easily a project for the Australian masses. The canon only reappears in the carport, with the roof painted white and columns extending past the fascia. It alludes to the bigger picture. An origin outside itself.
Circling around the local, we considered how do we make it relevant in an Australian context. We dealt with this issue on two levels. Firstly, through referencing of the iconic McIntyre house in a formal gesture — an homage to Australia’s attempt to embrace modernism. This validates and references the building as part of a bigger Australian housing history. Secondly, through the simplicity of the cladding application and the opportunity it gives to the user for personalisation or the proposition for culturally specific references. This is offered on an individual basis. The gay couple down the road may want a black building, their indigenous neighbour may want a white building or a rainbow stripe. This solution is offered through patterning or changing the color of the sheets. The loaded reference become exquisite. Furthermore, the yuppie may want a stainless steel clad house, the student in-situ concrete. The form and/or architectural language does not rely on the composition of materials. It embraces and references, offers a canvas. A canvas for the buyer to paint. A house that may be altered to suit its occupants. It is no longer the rigid three bedroom and double bathroom dwelling the “market” requires, rather a flexible plan allowing the occupier to use as suited, underlined and framed in architectural proposition of the “home”.
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