small & beautiful presents november 29.2012_klarajolesz issue #1
THE NEW DREAMERS THE ERA OF ALL WE NEED AND THE RETURN TO THE HOME OF THE FREE
THESIS ADVISOR : NORA WENDL COMMITTEE MEMBER : MARGARETTE LEITE COMMITTEE MEMBER: JOAN GRIMM COMMITTEE MEMBER: DEE WILLIAMS
I’m at the grocery store and I meet a stranger. Somehow we get to talking about where we live. She lives in Northeast Portland but what’s even more interesting is how she lives… in 128 square-feet built up on an 8 x 16 foot trailer. Not to mention that she shares this minimal space with another person. Curious, I talked more with her to understand what path in her life led her into such minimalist digs. Her story began with a life-changing trip to Mexico where she volunteered with the Mexico Solidarity Network. Unhappy with her career and swimming in debt, and in view of the most poverty-stricken parts of Mexico, she had an ah-ha moment: she realized that her problems were trivial. Coming back home she took it upon herself to make some major life changes. At home she saw a video of Dee Williams and her tiny house. It gave her a whole new perspective on what life could look like, primarily that she didn’t have to own a big house, drive 2 hours back and forth to work, and be in a debt prison for the rest of her life. It didn’t take long for her to sell her cars and give away a lot of her stuff. It was empowering to know that she was in control of living life on her own terms. She decided that the run of the mill, status quo lifestyle, and one usually surrounded by “stuff,” wouldn’t work for her anymore. Even though the car was hard to let go of, she told me she has a new appreciation for her neighborhood and loves biking and walking everywhere. Parting with all those excess possessions helped her focus on the things she loved, like Yoga, writing, walking and hanging out with friends. Even though her lifestyle is not for everyone it does pose an interesting question, one I think that is relevant to the readers of our magazine. According to polls, our demographic of readers are between 18-34 years of age, a demographic that I myself am a part of. We, the Millennials, are
perhaps the first generation to turn out economically worse off than our parents. We’ve been dubbed as the ”screwed” generation. We suffer stubbornly high unemployment rates—and an even higher incidence of underemployment, not to mention we enter adulthood loaded down by a mountain of debt. The average student, according to Forbes, already carries $12,700 in credit card and other kinds of debt. Student loans have grown consistently over the last few decades to an average of $27,000 per student. Nationwide, young people are delaying their leap into adulthood. Nearly a third of people between 18 and 34 have put off marriage or having a baby due to the recession, and a quarter have moved back into their parents’ homes, according to a Pew study. Since World War II the expectation of each generation has been to own property, preferably a single-family house. During the Reagan-Clinton era, a large majority of boomers became homeowners. If we do move out of our parent’s house, the likelihood is that we’ll move into apartments we don’t own. There’s a lot of talk about a “generation rent” replacing a primarily suburban ownership society with a new caste of city-dwelling renters. “I’m hoping that the millennial generation doesn’t set its sights on homeownership as a benchmark of economic stability,” sociologist Katherine Newman suggests, “because it’s going to be out of reach for so many of them.” Yes the prospect of downward mobility and for homeownership seem dismal noting the statistics. But I believe it is delusional that anyone should call us “screwed” or think that we don’t desire the same things as previous generations. Research shows that 84% of Millennials who currently rent hope to buy a home even if they can’t currently afford one, and 64% said it was “very important” to have an opportunity to own their own home. (And where does this generation see their dream house?)
Knowing all this, I can’t help but think about the chance encounter I had with the stranger. Does the possibility for our future somehow lie in how she lives? Now completely debt-free and owning her slice of home, albeit a small slice, maybe we should reconceive how it is that we live. If we really are “generation screwed,” we won’t be the only ones suffering. We are the future of this country, and in that case America, and the American Dream, will be screwed. I asked her if she had any answers. She told me to get an awareness of what comes into and out of our lives. Then ask yourself: Do I really need 50 sweaters? Or a whole library of books? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But I guarantee this challenge will change your view of stuff, what you really need and your buying patterns, too. In the end the question I want to pose is: How can we rethink the way we live and our idea of “home,” so that we can create a new version of the American dream, one in which homeownership means living debt-free, that reenvisions the types of places we build and own so that we have all we need and no more?
Resizing the American Dream
Over there. You can see it. Out there in the bucolic countryside with gurgling stream, acres of land, is the rural house with a white picket fence. Its nostalgia calls to us. Planted there to take seed by the Fathers of the US Constitution is the idea that everyone is entitled to their own small portion of land. It is this the idyllic vision of the good life, the American Dream, that continues to be sold to us, largely fueled by our desire of homeownership, independence and the ideal of the single-family home. After all this time the dream is still holding on, although the landscape is not quite as verdant or as fertile, as it is now littered with scenes of boarded up houses of partial abandonment and foreclosure. But still the dream refuses to die. It keeps plugging away, even with the dissolution of the model of economic growth and abundance that has been its lifeblood for the past 65 years, dwindling to a geriatric gasp, laying waste upon the landscape that birthed it. And it continues on, exerting emotional and financial hardship on those who try to live out a figment of the dream spending more than what they own (even the most affluent are not immune). However, in our current financial crisis, it is hard to avoid the fact that the dream is on its last legs or at least catch sight of its seedy underbelly, as the houses in which the dreaming unfolds are no longer owned by the people themselves but by banks. Even as sight of the dream home slips out of the hands of a swelling percentage of the population, as they get bigger1 and more expensive, signs of cheap mortgages, lenders, and financial institutions get the best of us and enable the engine to keep pumping anew. And we keep on consuming, as overscaled, bloated, washed up on the shores of defeat, the dream may become, it will always show us that glimmer of the landscape of domestic opportunity. For the single family house is fundamental to the way we live. It has and always will represent the ideal of psychological ownership around which our cities, suburbs, and financial systems are built. As the image of our rural past fades into a cacophony of automobiles, congestion, and sprawling urbanity, and as population growth leads to greater implication of density and expansion into virgin land, we must be honest with ourselves and ask, can the phrase the American Dream come to have new meaning? Can it be reimagined so that to belong one is not paralyzed with debt, trapped in mind-numbing jobs they don’t like, working10 hours a day, destined to be, as Kate Winslet’s character in Revolution Road says, “just like everyone else… bought into the same ridiculous delusion, this idea that you have to settle down and resign from life.” The dream must be redefined as it no longer fits the mold of 2-and-a-half chil2 dren, a house with a front yard and a dog. Today’s households are composed of a more diverse context. We must reassess our values and ask ourselves what size home and what kinds of rooms do we actually need and want. We must peer deeper into the aspects of how we sleep, dine and bathe and how much we want the meaning of life to be “trying to find a place for our stuff.3 ” We must question the size and scale of the houses in existence, their permanence, their organization and the cost. Is the American dream economi4 cally viable if fewer than one-fifth of households can afford it? The singe family home has remained steadfastly immune to the changing socioeconomic and demographic climate. This thesis will attempt to generate a discourse about what is needed now in the America of 2012 as a way of looking forward and not back, in the desire to enable a housing situation for those that have been left out of the equation (namely singles, those divorced with children, extended families, and minimum wage earners). What is needed is a serious shift towards smaller houses on less land, a reevaluation of outmoded zoning codes and restriction on use, occupancy, and issues of density. The project seeks to empower existing homeowners to finance and own their own homes, with the flexibility and adaptability to move elsewhere or contract and expand their properties how they see fit. We need a new species of the American dream; one reinvigorated and pumped full of fresh oxygen, and one that can lead to new ways of living and of ownership.
1. Average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s. What was once a significant average of 948 sq ft. has risen 140% to 2,349 sq ft. 2. For instance, in the city Los Angels, research show that single persons make up 24% of the households in and traditional nuclear families only 12% p. 26 RE: American Dream 3. George Carlin Talks about “stuff” _http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac 4. This is referring to the Los Angles Population, the other statisitic is ‘more than 40% spend more than one third of their income on rent’ Los Angles Time September 25,1991
case studies houses
Proving that life in less square footage can be both sustainable and stylish.
T H E >2,600 sq ft
K E Y
$ $$ $$$
800 - 2,600 sq ft
< 800 sq ft
under $50,000 $50,000-$300,000 300,000 and up
172 ft² “I always wanted to build a little house. The idea came to me during a 15 day cruise I took. My cabin measured 3m x 3m with a dresser and a bathroom. 15m/2 in all. Not a square centimeter was wasted. A little cell in the realm of human existence where every eventuality had been foreseen.” L.C.
Project: Le cabanon, 1952 Designer: Le Corbusier Location: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France
“I have a castle on the Riviera, measur extravagantly comfortable and genero
“The home should be the treasure chest of living.” - Le Corbusier
ring 3.66 by 3.66 meters... it’s ous.” Le Corbusier In my research on small house design, I’ve noticed a lot of artists, architects, writers and designers seem to like the simplicity of little spaces to find inspiration for their work. A cabin in the middle of the woods, a small house tucked away in the city, or overlooking the ocean…small spaces where one can let their imagination wander away from it all, undisturbed, close to nature. The list is long, Thoreau, Dylan Thomas, George Bernard Shaw, E.B. White, Einstein, Ralph Lauren…and another to add to the list, Le Corbusier.
Throughout history there have always been examples of small spaces that framed the existence of great intellects. Think of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond. Another would be Corbusier’s Le Cabanon off the coast of France. Both writer and architect were inspired by a desire to find a spiritual purity by living simply, reducing life to its bare essentials. Le Cabanon is just that. It had a bed, a fixed table for working, a few box stools, a cupboard for storage, an extra sink for washing up, and a bathroom. Everything but the kitchen sink, literally, as it was built alongside Corbusier’s favorite restaurant. Supposedly designed in 45 minutes, the Cabanon was the only building Corbusier built for himself, and he was very proud of his design in that “not a square centimeter of space was wasted.” The cabin, largely made of pine and prefabricated in Corsica, is essentially one room with a flat roof. Everything was designed proportionate to the human body. On the outside, it appears not much more than a primitive hut. Inside, while there is no kitchen or heating and only a chromed steel basin and toilet, it nonetheless reveals a masterful exercise in its use of minimal space, box-like multifunctional furniture and it’s absolute simplicity. Home is calling.
“At the end of the day, what do you need for living? You need a nice comfortable mattress, nice clean sheets, running water, a shower, and a stove to cook something … You don’t need much more stuff.” -Christian Schallert
258 ft² Project: christian’s house, 2008 Designer: barbara appolloni Location: barcelona
The bed is ingeniously designed to pull from underneath the outside terrace. The bed can be made to become a couch by partially pulling it out.
Christian Schallert’s remodeled Barcelona pigeon loft turned hyper-modern bachelor pad, at a mere 258 square feet, has all that one might need folded neatly away into a wall. This amazing, transformable room can morph into an infinite number of spaces depending on the owner’s needs. Access to every piece of furniture is available with one quick click and, presto chango, a kitchen, a bed, a wardrobe is revealed. Christian took inspiration from the space-spaving furniture he found aboard boats, as well as Japanese architecture. His space is testament to the fact that you don’t need a lot
of room, nor do small spaces have to come at the cost of good design. The interior is a versatile and functional space in which the walls and furniture allow for many different layouts and uses. The only visible elements are the shower and the sink. The toilet is the only private space in the apartment. It’s in a small room with a little window, behind a hidden door. To cook, he clicks a spot on his vast wall of clickable furniture, and a spring-loaded door swings up to reveal an instant kitchen: double-
The terrace off the apartment expands the living space, giving the appearance of an apartment that seems larger than it is.
The dining table seats up to five people and is pulled from the wall, revealing a window.
burner, dishwasher, sink, countertop and microwave oven. The full-sized refrigerator and freezer click open just alongside. Small spaces in Europe, interestingly, are not as newsworthy as they are in the United States. While Christian’s home would probably be all the rage on tv networks back home, in Europe the average size for a home is 1000 square feet, less than half the size of an average American home. 300 square feet in Barcelona is surprisingly common and is not seen as a sacrifice but as an opportunity to own something affordable and further, a reason to get creative!
sary. When you’re living in a house as small as Christian Schallert’s you realize that this is just what you want and what you need. As he says, “At the end of the day, what do you need for living? You need a nice comfortable mattress, nice clean sheets, running water, a shower, and a stove to cook something … You don’t need much more stuff.” Really, think about it. All that stuff? It’s just extra. It can be nice but it doesn’t really give you added value. The reality is that you really don’t end up missing anything that you’d have in a big house... except maybe chores.
In America we often live with more than what we need. We may have spaces in our house that aren’t neces-
$$$ Project: Mcmansion Designer: housing industries Location: anywhere, suburbia
McMansion Myth? Some people dream about winning the lottery so they could afford a house like this. 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, a wine cellar, tennis courts, more space than you would know what to do with. It would just be the dream wouldn’t it? Maybe, but maybe not. Lots of people who are living in 2,000 square feet or less hold on to the big house dream in their heads, hoping someday... but what the majority of Americans are finding out is that these oversized McMansions aren’t all they dreamed of. It’s as simple as mo’ house, mo’ problems. Not to mention the cost of owning such a grandiose behemoth. It’s hard enough for my family to clean our modest 1,600 square foot home. I couldn’t imagine what a 4,000 square foot home would entail. No thanks. You can take your wine cellar too, McMansion. I’ve got plenty of room in my kitchen for that. Do I really need more rooms than I know what to do with? Answer: I’m fine with the rooms I have now, so I’d just have to make up something to do with those extra rooms, and that sounds ridiculous even to me. So, if you really think about it, is the extra cost, space, stuff, maintenance, and worry that comes with living above your means really worth it? I cleaned my whole house today in less than an hour. I pay a fraction of what one of those McMansions would cost in heating and cooling, and I don’t have as much useless stuff I don’t really need. Less stuff, less worry is how I see it. If you don’t mind I’m going to go indulge in my new dream: an even sweeter, smaller house to move into someday. And I know this much, I’m not the only one.
Estudio Teddy Cruz, Non-stop Sprawl, McMansion Retrofitted, 2008 http://cruzynstuzyn.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/gp_100424_2030_1_2.jpg In fact maybe we’re heading into a McMansion backlash. It seems that in 2010 the last nail may have been hammered into the McCoffin so to speak, according to the latest report on home-buying trends from real-estate site Trulia. Could it be that the McMansion era is truly over like they say? Just 9 percent of the people surveyed by Trulia said their ideal home size was over 3,200 square feet. Meanwhile, more than one-third said their ideal size was under 2,000 square feet. I’m sensing a victory here! Maybe we can finally say goodbye to the tacky style, massive manicured lawns, decorative water features, and tennis courts that feel so out of place, almost gloating, given the current economic environment that we face today. Even builders are taking heed, as 9 out of 10 say they are planning to build smaller, lower-priced homes in the future. The trend is clearly picking up speed. Now more than ever, building green means building small. Even a large LEED certified house will not reap the energy benefits that a smaller sized house would. Heck, it wasn’t that long ago that people were living smaller. In the 1960s, 1,200 square feet was the average home size. That grew to 1,710 square feet in the 1980s, and then to 2,330 square feet in the 2000s. We’re not calling it downsizing anymore either, it’s called “right-sizing.” And as more children see their parent’s large homes being foreclosed on, its doubtful that they will want to put themselves in the same position when its time for them to buy a home.
This installation, by Teddy Cruz, is a plastic model of a typical McMansion. It sits in a box with mirrors that reflect it into infinity. The house is accompanied by two monitors. On one monitor, immigrants talk about how they imagine transforming this McMansion to accommodate two families, or a small business in the garage. On the other monitor, an animation shows the house transforming. The installation is meant to be a satirical look that comments on the current model of urbanization that is clearly unsustainable while also suggesting a need for a critical transformation of American suburbs.
The Simpler Life
Project: harpoon house Designer: matt kirkpatrick Location: portland, or
”In many ways, it’s hedonistic. We get all the things that are great about owning a house without the extra baggage of a bigger place.” 23
Budgeting In: $5,000 - Excavation $12,000 - Sewer and utilities $16,000 - Foundation and slab $15,000 - SIP fabrication $7,000 - Framing materials $11,200 - Framing labor and SIP installation $20,000 - Windows and doors $3,900 - Rough Plumbing $6,700 - Rough Electrical $7,000 - Ecoroofs $14,700 - Siding $2,000 - Additional insulation $3,300 - Drywall $11,400 - Cabinets. countertop, built-ins $6,500 - Flooring $6,500 - Appliances $3,000 - Finish plumbing and fixtures
$1,500 $2,500 $4,000 $6,000 $8,000
Finish electrical and fixtures Deck Misc. finish Misc. stuff Permits
Total Soft Costs - $173,200 $18,500 - Contractor Fees $1,000 - Engineering Total Budget - $192,700 $12,000 - System Development Charges (Waived) $20,000 - Architectural fees for design and project/construction management (Donated by owner) Total Expected Project Value - $224,700
“There’s nothing sacrificial about living in this house. We have what we need, and no more.”
Located in Portland, the Harpoon House is an example of how to live small-scale in style. It’s got sustainability cred hardwired into it, it’s compact living at its best and is entirely prefab. Designed by architect/homeowner Matt Kirkpatrick of Design for Occupancy, the 704 square foot home fits everything necessary for him and his wife, Katherine’s, lifestyles. Made out of SIPS, the home sits on a small 50-by-50 foot corner lot. Kirkpatrick thinks its funny that anyone would think they are somehow missing out by living this way. His wife adds, “There’s nothing sacrificial about living in this house. We have what we need, and no more.”
basement, a first floor containing the kitchen, living room and bath, and a top floor with the couple’s bedroom, complete with loft bed over clothing storage and a sink. To top it off, a green roof is located directly off of the bedroom, providing a great private, outdoor living space. And that’s not the smart part yet. What’s ubersmart is the how the storage is placed into the home and how many of the interior furnishings serve doubleduty. Simple and clean, the lack of ornamentation and interior doors (the only interior doors are those to the bathroom and basement) keeps the space feeling wide, bright, and open.
When Matt and his wife decided to make the leap out of their rental and get a home of their own, they had it in mind not to increase their square footage. They liked the size of their old home but felt it could work, well... smarter. So they found an unused side yard in inner Southeast Portland and nine months later, voila, their dream home.
There are other benefits to living so compactly. The house cost a total of $230,000, which is a lot of money no doubt. But compared to the houses in that area that go for a similiar price, it’s got the quality that they just don’t. For the couple, saving on space meant they could splurge on high-quality materials: mainly the SIPS and triple-pane windows which will save them tons in the long run. Most important, perhaps, is the home’s connection to its setting. “The neighborhood is part of our lifestyle,” explains Kirkpatrick.
Instead of a single-story home that spreads to the width of the lot, the three-story house sits compactly at 28 feet wide and 16 feet long. It contains an unfinished
These scorecards recognize that something small can be impactful in a positive and major way on not only who we are, but how we live, how we relate to others and whether or not we choose to live in concert with the greater environment that we are a part of. All houses are scored against a list of 10 relevant analytical criteria that rely on the supposition that smaller dwellings, typically between 50-750 square feet and built at a price point between $15,000 through $50,000, are the ideal.
Believe it or not, small dwellings are sweeping the nation as the chosen castles of some brave folk. I say this because they go against the grain in a big way during a time when lifestyles and budgets have increased to accommodate super-sized appetites for all things material.
ENERGY EFFICIENT LESS MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS REDUCED ENERGY CONSUMPTION & GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IMPROVED HEALTH/ ENCOURAGES OUTDOOR ACTIVITY LESS CLUTTER
LESS TO CLEAN
PROMOTES GOOD DESIGN CREATES BETTER NEIGHBORHOODS ENCOURAGES SOCIAL INTERACTION & FAMILY TIME
ENERGY EFFICIENT LESS MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS REDUCED ENERGY CONSUMPTION & GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IMPROVED HEALTH/ ENCOURAGES OUTDOOR ACTIVITY LESS CLUTTER
LESS TO CLEAN
PROMOTES GOOD DESIGN CREATES BETTER NEIGHBORHOODS ENCOURAGES SOCIAL INTERACTION & FAMILY TIME
ENERGY EFFICIENT LESS MAINTENANCE & REPAIRS REDUCED ENERGY CONSUMPTION & GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IMPROVED HEALTH/ ENCOURAGES OUTDOOR ACTIVITY LESS CLUTTER
LESS TO CLEAN
PROMOTES GOOD DESIGN CREATES BETTER NEIGHBORHOODS ENCOURAGES SOCIAL INTERACTION & FAMILY TIME
LESS TO CLEAN
PROMOTES GOOD DESIGN CREATES BETTER NEIGHBORHOODS ENCOURAGES SOCIAL INTERACTION & FAMILY TIME
creative practices l
film & other media
the american dream
Info Coasts in action.
Instead of merely reading, researching and absorbing knowledge, I have come to the conclusion that the material artifacts that come about in the making and manipulating of information in architectural ways will have the most impact on my design process. Because of this, I have gathered empirical data in order to fabricate meaning through various media, not in a way that simply translates informational content of complete thoughts onto an external source, but rather, to interact, as partially-formed, evolving ideas representative of a dynamic thought process. Through this method, new representations are allowed to emerge. The result of such practices thus far has culminated in a variety of writing and filmmaking, a zine-style magazine, complete with advertisements, and info coasts (coasters). The purpose of these specific media explorations are two-fold. Firstly, they represent the culture of consumption that the thesis draws upon and acknowledges it cannot escape from, while also relaying its message
“we can find the freedom we seek by living more with less,” in a way that the demographic I have chosen to target, the Millennials (18-34 years old) can relate to. The films and coasters seek to emulate the MTV-style sound-bited, quick relation of content that they are accustomed to. This booklet, on the other hand, is equally well-known to this generation, as it has come to be one of the ways they have sought to compensate for boring 9-5 jobs, by, for example, either playing in bands on the weekend or writing a zine* for their friends. *[From the Urban Dictionary] “Zine is short for fanzine. For all intensive [sic] purposes, a zine is a cheaply made, cheaply priced publication, often in black and white, which is massproduced via photocopier and bound with staples…Have you read the latest issue of my zine? I have an in-depth interview with the singer from Pernicious Crotch Fungus!”
The New Dreamers is a film about a generation ready for action, creating a new version of the American Dream for themselves. Kicking debt culture to the curb, foregoing large mortgages, suburban isolation, ready to live within their means... This film fortells that this generation will change the future landscape of America forever. Get ready for a new type of city to emerge, dotted with tiny houses, vibrant community interaction, neighborhoods of walking and biking, and people living out their passions. Let’s not write off the future just yet. If this film is all its cracked up to be, the future may not be so dismal after all! -The Boomer Critic GO SEE NOW!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kiSXoDYqg44
There is no question that Millennials are seeking answers. The economy might take years to turn around, and its effects are wearing hard on them. Debt, unemployment, you name it. Most of them will be getting married and starting families later, and facing the possibility of never owning homes. But they’re a feisty generation. They want to change things for the better, and they’re ready to take action. The surveys that exist only corroborate my findings. Great Recession or not, they are seeking solutions. Even after sleeping on friends’ floors while searching for jobs, or moving back in with their parents, they still believe in following their dreams. We have Occupy as an example, even though it may be perceived as a movement of complaint and not solution. There is recognition that there’s a problem and that this generation is wanting a call for action. And they aren’t interested in living their lives as renters, especially if that rent is higher than a mortgage payment would be. But they aren’t making enough income to qualify for a loan, nor are they interested in continuing the debt cycle.
The value of my thesis, smaller, mortgage-free homes, is promising for this generation. White picket fences and bloated suburban houses weren’t always the norm, and this generation is willing - no, yearning - to adapt to something different. Living within their means is something that they are ready to embrace. With their technological know-how and hunger for new media, I see more films, zines and a blog in the future as this thesis evolves. The films especially will begin to undertake specific design explorations for a singlefamily/person detached home. With all this talk of being screwed, this generation must stay passionate. And that’s something I’m interested in adding to.
the fine line between
stuff you own
stuff that owns you!
words l from the wise
E.B. WHITE WRITING IN HIS BOAT SHED OVERLOOKING ALLEN COVE “For some weeks now I have been engaged in dispersing the contents of this apartment, trying to persuade hundreds of inanimate objects to scatter and leave me alone. It is not a simple matter. I am impressed by the reluctance of one’s worldly goods to go out again into the world. During September I kept hoping that some morning, as if by magic, all books, pictures, records, chairs, beds, curtains, lamps, china, glass utensils, keepsakes would drain away from around my feet, like the outgoing tide, leaving me standing silent on a bare beach. But this did not happen… …a six-room apartment holds as much paraphernalia as an aircraft Youin his can whittle away atAllen it, Cove… E.B. carrier. White writing boat shed overlooking but to empty the place completely takes real ingenuity and great staying power.”
THOREAU’S CABIN IN THE WOODS AT WALDEN POND, 1845. “If it is asserted that civilization is a real advance in the condition of man — and I think that it is, though only the wise improve their advantages — it must be shown that it has produced better dwellings without making them more costly; and the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” - Henry David Thoreau
TO READ/SEE (Clockwise from top): Lay of My Land, Andrea Zittel. Architecture & The Punk Rock Aesthetic, Sara Kass. Inflatocookbook, Ant Farm. Super Chair, Ken Isaccs. Architecture Depends, Jeremy Till. Eames: The Architect and the Painter, Director Bill Jersey.
1) Till, Jeremy. Architecture Depends. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2009. Print. Till’s book is written as a polemic, based on the simple fact that architects detach themselves, beginning within academia, where students go in as humans and come out as architects. Till unveils the truths of architecture at its worst, and the gap that exists between what architecture actually is to what architects want it to be. Architecture has isolated itself from the real world, and Till’s desire is a reengagement with the realities of the world so that architects can reorientate themselves in a role of social and ethical responsibility and thus architecture can regain its relevance. Part personal, part theoretical, and part anecdotal, Till writes against lone architect master builders preoccupied with purity of form and technique, of abstraction over reality, and client over use. Till reaches out for something that is more collaborative and ethical, and states a plea to give up total control and to just let go. Ideas to take away: Modernism cannot get rid of contingency. Contingency is getting rid of the idea that things may turn out differently. In architecture contingency is inevitable. Modernism is concerned with purity.
You don’t know how wonderful dirt is. James Joyce’s last words from Gideon’s bio. This is a punk rock stance as well. Architecture cannot be purely aesthetic, it lives in the realm of the real. It is social and ethical, and it has to be relevant to its context. Being ethical does not mean producing beautiful buildings. You have to take an ethical stance, and take on a responsibility for the other. The other is the one or ones who will be partaking in the social spaces our buildings help construct. We must “enable people as individuals and as groups to express themselves by changing their situations, (the architect) lives out his transformative vocation by assisting someone else’s. Architects as angels with dirty faces. (“We must always maintain an overview through distance, always keeping an eye on the big picture. This is our angelic side. But we must also dwell on the ground, we must get our hands, or faces, dirty. Getting our faces dirty in the context of architecture means engaging with context and the unpredictable complexity of individuals and community”.)
2) Eames: The Architect and the Painter. Dir. Bill Jersey. Perf. Charles Eames and Ray Eames. 2011. DVD. A documentary that has as its subjects Charles and Ray Eames, a married couple whose approach to product design and presentation of information was infinitely inspirational to the design world and shaped the second half of the 20th century. Although best known for their work in chair design, the film expands upon their talent in mastering a balance between the practical and aesthetic which has left its mark on contemporary life as we know it. Charles, trained as an architect and Ray, an artist, ran a design studio in Venice, California that acted as a hive of creativity. The house they built was a new kind of modernism, one that married function with practical style.
individualism can be achieved despite mass production. I am also taking away their success at making (their ability to translate their ideas in very popular ways, and their success at commercializing, digitally, cinematically, etc.). This film serves as a starting point into digesting the subjects’ films and commercials. Next to see: the rest of the films of Charles and Ray Eames.
Key points: Their motto was “the best for the least for the most” which is an idea that great craftsmanship and great design should be available to everyone. They also had a notion that individualism could coexist with commercial standardization, and that expression could flourish in the collective ritual of consumption. The key points are on par with my agenda, where I feel that
3) Culture Breakers: Alternatives & Other Numbers, Ken Isaacs, New York: MSS Educational Publishing Company, 1970, 190 pages Ken Isaacs is an architect and is “concerned with the survival of all people.” The book is based on a decade of research done in the 1950s and 1960s, and describes design for living lightly on a small planet. One of the main points he makes is that connection between how our living spaces affect how we survive in the world. His main focus is “breaking culture.” He presents plans on how to break down “old culture” so that a new way of thinking can emerge. His architectural designs are meant to free individuals from the rational ways of learning, thinking and experiencing. The book includes several of his space frame designs, i.e. the microhouse and the knowledge box. His designs are based off of a matrix network, a modular system of squares that can be built from off-the-shelf materials. He discusses designs that
provide both shelter and a new way of organizing small spaces. Isaacs is part of a group of young professional dubbed “urban nomads.” The nomads were considered making the most post-industrial materials to better facilitate a mobile lifestyle. To take away: Concepts of creating outdoor space with the form of two units together and have separate units for separate functions, i.e. one unit for eating, one for sleeping, infinitely small space, back-to-back plumbing package, ideas for “total environments for living.” Focuses on the ways space shapes our consciousness and can encourage or hinder the way we learn and relate to one another.
4) Ant Farm, Inflatocookbook. (San Francisco: Ant Corps, 1973), “We wanted to be an architecture group that was more like a rock band … We would be doing underground architecture, like underground newspapers and underground movies, and [a friend] said, “Oh, you mean like an Ant Farm?”’ - Doug Michels quoted in, C. M. Lewallen, Ant Farm 1968 - 1978, illustrated edition. (University of California Press, 2004), p. 41.
standards of buildings by having no permanent form, and their inability to be described in plan and section. They favored an architecture that was as far removed from expert knowledge as possible, and instead promoted a manual for making inflatable structures to anyone who wanted it. Ant Farm starts readers out with the basic concept of how to fill a plastic bag with air and moves on from there.
Ant farm was established in the counter-culture era of 1960s San Francisco by two architects, Chip Lord and Doug Michaels. Their work dealt in the intersection of architecture, design and media art, while critiquing the American culture of mass production, media and consumerism. They were a group that worked in many formats from events, manifestos, videos, to performances and installation. Their inflatocookbook details their inflatable architecture, which was fast, cheap, easy to move and assemble. They favored a nomadic and communal lifestyle, and their architecture questioned the
To take away: Beyond the simple and relatable aspects of communicating their intentions, Ant Farm, promoted a participatory architecture that favored user control over their environment. Idea to hold an event in something, this can be an idea for presenting at final. Also take away their ironic, tongue-in-cheek presentation style. Research their videos to get ideas. “Architecture isn’t just building, it is media, it is performance, it is graphic presentation, and with inflatables these elements can be equals.” -Ant Farm, 1972
5) Zittel, Andrea, and Jane Michael. Andrea Zittel: Lay of My Land. Munich: Prestel, 2011. Print. Andrea Zittel’s art is deeply rooted in her life, and reaches across different fields such as architecture, painting, photography, design, textiles, needlework and cooking. Her sculptures and installations transform the necessities of every day life- eating, sleeping, bathing, and socializing- into artistic experiments in living. The book focuses on her experiments in functional living and her out-of-the-box ideas on self-sufficiency and adaptability. Wearing a single outfit every day of an entire season, constantly remodeling her home to reflect her changing needs and interests, she continually reinvents ideas of domesticity and explores the line between privacy and community. For a decade she has been
creating minimal self-sufficient dwelling spaces. The book features projects from Zittel’s home in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, known as “A-Z West.” The most compelling part of her work is perhaps the Wagon Stations, created out of a need to accommodate visiting artists capable of holding their own against the elements, with room for sleeping and a few belongings, and built beyond rule of the law and permits. She is interesting in how she proposes other ways of living and ideas of how much space you really need, and different ways to design that space.
6) Maxwell, Lorraine E. “It Doesn’t Take a McMansion to Have the Perfect Space for Family Interaction.” Cornell Chronicle Online (2009):. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. This article focuses on the housing bust as a blessing in disguise as it makes us consider “how much house we really need.” The author relates that our housing obsessions in the past have been with qualifying space purely in terms of square footage, “the more, the better.” She claims there is now a shift towards reflecting upon what makes a home, and rethinking how spaces affect relationships. Her thesis is that the McMansion boom, which promoted homes as showcases of prosperity and mainstreamed such “luxuries” as specialized rooms (the recreational playroom, solarium, master bedroom, big deck, patio, TV and computer in the children’s bedrooms) have encouraged isolation. The article’s argument is backed up by a study that analyzed where families gathered in the home, via a diary method, in which subjects recorded in which room they gathered and what activity they engaged in. The result: family togetherness was shown to be a function of what goes on in a room rather than the nature of the room itself, and also that the more modest homes
promoted quality family time. The activities included sharing a meal, talking, doing homework and household tasks such as laundry, which primarily happened in the kitchen/eating areas and combination kitchen/dining/ living areas. The outcome that most of the interactions took place in the kitchen and eating areas, while most identified a family room as being the ideal space for interaction, surprised participants. The study concludes that homes with specialized spaces are not the answer to increased family bonding, but, rather, decrease interaction. Overall if families need to consider downsizing, and if the desire is to work longer just to afford a bigger house with an entertainment room, they should reconsider as they may be compromising family togetherness, and only “working harder to create spaces that actual isolate our loved ones.” It is compelling evidence that the single family home does not need to be large or elaborate to encourage family well-being.
7) Cordell, Kasey, and Randy Gragg, eds. “Who We Are.” Portland Monthly Oct. 2012: 55-68. Print. The article is an attempt to reach beyond stereotypes, labels, and ideas of what Portland is to the collective consciousness of the nation propagated through popular media sources, i.e. Portlandia and New York times, and to “take a closer look-not at what others say we are, but at who we believe we are.” Through a series of surveys Portlanders are polled (with the help of DHM Research) on such issues as diverse as feelings incurred around whether they have lots of sex or none at all and other bedroom behavior, to their attitudes on who among us believes in God, feels unpaid, and spanks their kids. The conclusions are more conservative then one would assume for a progressive, liberal, and seemingly green city. There are several interesting statistics that find
relevance within my research. More than a quarter of PDX residents spend 40% or more of their take-home pay on housing. This is well above the level deemed affordable. Another statistic is that 40% of Portlanders would feel rich with $10,000 or less in the bank, which won out over 10 million at 10% and 1 million at 22%. This shows that perhaps Portlanders value quality of life over financial success. The most important statistic, however, may revolve around what Portlanders think is the biggest threat to Portland’s’ livability. 56% of PDXers think economic issues are the biggest threat to our way of life, with the cost of living proving to be the greatest threat at the highest percentage of 29%. This shows that economic issues revolving around housing mortgages and rent are at the forefront of people’s minds, which supports my thesis exploration.
8) Kass, Sara E. “The Form of NonConformity: Architecture & The Punk Rock Aesthetic.” Thesis. Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, 2008. Print. The following thesis looks at punk rock, it’s music, rebellion, anarchy, and style, and questions how it can be translated into architecture. By posing such questions as, can a building possess these qualities? What would a rebellious building look like? How will it challenge our conceptions of beauty? This thesis tries to take the ideas of punk and marry them with a venue for music that would be located in the heart of DC. Take away: The paper begins with the origins of punk
rock as a movement that was not reserved for an elitist group of musicians, but was rather about music that anyone could create. This is largely my conclusion as well. However, this thesis is unlike what I want to do because it is making a too literal translation from the ideas of punk, into a building for punk music. I am more interested in taking the concepts form the punk movement, its “dirtiness “ and its ability to let go and give up control in order to see what an architecture is capable of being for the real, for the living for people.
9) Chapin, Ross. “Living Large by Building Small.” Lecture. Build Small/Live Large Conference. Portland, Oregon. 26 Oct. 2012. Web. <http://living-future.org/cascadia/buildsmall>. In his talk, Chapin highlights that two generations, the Baby Boomers and the Echo Boomers, will cause a shift in the housing market over the next 20 years. Raised on high fuel prices, immense credit and student loan debt, the Echo Boomers (1980-2000) are described as entering an adverse economic climate with a lack of high paying jobs. As a result the Echo Boomers are moving back in with their parents, doubling up in apartments, and learning, as Chapin says, “how to make do with less.” Chapin also describes this generation as far more diverse in ethnicity and household structure, demanding less privacy, more tolerant of differences and drawn to urban, walkable neighborhoods. Meanwhile the 80 million Baby Boomers (1946-1965) will soon be entering retirement. Their lives coincided with suburban sprawl, the ballooning of house size, tremendous economic growth based on cheap resources. They are now looking at options to aging in place while their large, high
maintenance houses are isolating them in the suburbs. Because of this schism between young and old, the estimated 11 million houses that will be released in the next 10 years will, Chapin says, most likely not fit the needs of the younger generation. Built when energy was inexpensive, nuclear families were the rule, incomes were increasing for most Americans, and mortgages were easy to maintain, their children coming from a different backdrop entirely, are going to have to make sense of this. Chapin uses the small house approach as part of the answer, but also iterates the importance of where the houses are located, for if they continue to be placed out in suburban sprawl, then we are just repeating the same deficient symptoms: far form resources and losing all the energy that was saved by building smaller.
10) Shore, Nick. “Millennials: The New American Dreamers.” HLN. N.p., 14 Nov. 2012. Web. <http://www.hlntv.com/article/2012/11/14/nick-shore-mtv-gen-y-millennial-making-america. In this article Nick Shore, the Senior Vice President of MTV’s Strategic Insights team, a team that analyses and tracks today’s young generation, discusses the results of a recent survey entitled “Generation Innovation.” The survey researched how the Millennials will be able to make it in America as they are graduating into a world of extreme debt (an average of $26,000 of college debt) and widespread unemployment and will react “against a system in need of repair.” The study revealed that despite the labels, such as ”entitled and coddled,” the culture of the Millennials is in fact made up of a mix of strong and vibrant do-it-yourselfers in which 3 out of the 4 youth believe that “our generation is starting a movement to change old, outdated systems.” The results of the study pointed triumphantly in the direction, that if the old American Dream wasn’t working this generation would take it upon themselves to invent the next “version”. Creativity was the word the generation used most to best describe themselves, with the second being self-expressive. Detroit was used as an example of a place in which the younger generation is reinventing the dream by “appropriating, fixing and remixing the Ameri-
can Dream” by taking over abandoned factories and transforming them into hack spaces, cycle tracks into playgrounds and distressed storefronts into galleries. Millennials have thus proven themselves motivated. The key descriptors of the generation fell into five categories. The most compelling was #4 We Swarm, which relays that Millennials are a communal generation that experience life together through social media, but most importantly that this generation desires “ physical proximity around projects,- the thrill of siting together, huddling around a problem”, and yearn for social togetherness. In conclusion, although the generation had less than austere beginnings, “...with the economy as their battle, technology as their arsenal, and innovation/creativity as their rallying cry, Millennials’ ultimate victory will be, we have absolutely no doubt, quite something to celebrate,” giving plausibility to the idea that they might just reinvent the American dream that has changed so little in the past 100 years.
11) Bergdoll, Barry, and Reinhold Martin. Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 2012. Print. This book is an attempt to begin a conversation of the architectural possibilities for cites and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent mortgage-foreclosure crisis. The projects within the book are a result of a series of workshops undertaken in the Summer of 2011, in which five interdisciplinary teams of architects, urban planners, ecologist, engineers and landscape designers were invited by MOMA to work together and were challenged to “engage in a rethinking of housing and related
infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation.” Their goal was to develop proposals for new models of housing that would also question the very systems of infrastructure and finance that support it. Each project focused on a specific suburb in one of the five megaregions of the country and offered potential solutions that reimagined the existing patterns of living, working, and homeownership.
12) Kotkin, Joel. “Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?” Web log post. The Daily Beast. Newsweek, 16 July 2012. Web. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/07/15/aremillennials-the-screwed-generation.html>. With U.S. student loan debt reaching $1 trillion and young people facing disproportionately high unemployment rates, this blog post by Newsweek’s The Daily Beast, asserts that today’s youth have been “screwed” by the “greed, shortsightedness, and blind partisanship” of their parents, the Boomers. Youth are the most afflicted by the current recession. The median net worth of people under 35 fell, according to the US census, 37% between 2005 and 2010, while those over 65 only fell 13%. This has created the widest wealth gap between young and old on record ever. The Pew Research Center notes that the median net worth of households headed by those 65 or older is $170,494, 42 % higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger households is $3,662, down from 68% a quarter era ago. On top of that, Kotkin asserts, they face a high amount of college debt that they cannot pay off because of a tight job market, that is caused by their parents who are holding on to
their jobs longer. This means, in times of high unemployment such as these, that the younger generation is disenfranchised being the least qualified. Beyond the college debt of the average student, which averages $27,000 each, according to Forbes, students also carry an average of $12,700 in credit card and other kinds of debt. They are also inheriting the enormous debt that their parents accumulated, and they are growing up in terrible economy with very little jobs. Also getting a college degree will no longer guarantee you a decent job like it did for the generation’s parents. The article raises the question that perhaps there should be more outrage from the youth, with a degraded infrastructure, slow economic growth, and high personal and public debt. This article gives a good understanding of the current predicament but offers no solution.
13) Kaufmann, Michelle, and Catherine Remick. Prefab Green. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2009. Print. Position: The architecture profession has largely overlooked the needs of the average aspiring homeowner. Architect-designed homes are rarely affordable, and are usually for the most affluent. Architect’s focus is not usually homes for the average family, this has become the business of the building industry (and these homes are not often beautiful or inspiring). Kaufmann’s idea is to rethink the concept of home as a place where we spend so much time and inspires us. She elaborates on other architects who came before her that pursued mass production to create great design at minimal cost largely by making use of standardized parts. Ray and Charles Eames brought the idea of the “good life” to the general public through modern materials, new technologies, and high quality design. Kaufmann also talks about the spurred interest in prefab due to popular magazines such as, Sunset and Dwell. Our homes need to meet the individual needs of the people who live in them!
Michelle Kaufman’s motto is sustainable design for everyone. Principles are as follows: 1) Affordability/budget consciousness i.e. low purchase price and low energy bills 2) Well-designed 3) Healthy (i.e.. IAQ) 4) Low maintenance She believes instead of looking for something that doesn’t fit... you build it yourself. She further compares site-built to factory built (14 months vs four months at a cost of 15% less). She touts the benefits of modular factories: high quality design, precious cutting, less waste, increased quality control and short production time frames. Conclusion: “Everybody wants the same thing, rich or poor: not only a warm, dry room, but a shelter for the soul.” .
14) NEED TO KNOW | Living Large: A Look inside the Tiny House Movement. 9 minutes. PBS, 31 July 2010. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl58kpKLsFk>. Given the state of the economy, a growing number of ordinary Americans are choosing to scale down – way down. Described as the “tiny house movement,” this short film turns an era of consumption on its head as more Americans are now living by choice in eco-friendly homes smaller than 400 sq. ft. The film visits Dee Williams in her 84 square foot tiny house in Olympia, Washington, that holds a small sleeping loft, a compost toilet and ample storage for her pared down belongings. Sited in a friend’s backyard, she pays no rent, no mortgage, and her utility bills are a mere $8/month. Leaving behind a 2000 sq. ft. house. and moving into a house smaller than
her old bathroom, she speaks about how a less cluttered life has brought her the contentment the bigger, much larger house could not. The film touches upon the notion of exploring the difference between what we need and what we want. The tiny house is shown to be of value to those in certain economic situations, wanting to get out of debt culture, interesting in downsizing, either due to losing a job or in lieu of moving back in with relatives, while able to have their own space in the backyard.
15) Cullen, Jim. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation. Oxford [England: Oxford UP, 2003. Print. This book explores the short history of the phrase “The American Dream” and how it has shaped the ideals of a nation throughout history, from its origins starting with the Pilgrims to the present. Cullen argues how “you’ll never really understand what it means to be an American of any creed, color, or gender if you don’t try to imagine the shape of that dream.” Cullen organizes the history of the American Dream into six chapters, each clarifying yet another version of the dream. The main focus of the book resides in the chapters The Charter of the American Dream, about the founding fathers of the Declaration of Independence, to the Dream of the Good Life exemplified by Abraham Lincoln, with his rise from log cabin to the White House and his dream of a unified nation. Cullen concludes in his final chapter, Dream of the Good Life: The Coast, that our current version of the American Dream is in its most degraded form, hyped by instant dreams of success and fortune propagated by Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Although, more of a cursory glance into the meaning of the American Dream, the book alights upon several key moments whose impact has been widespread, and does a good job at explaining how different eras have adopted different ideas and meanings of the American Dream. He begins with a good baseline of its origins beginning with the Declaration of Independence, which asserted that all men were created equal. This allowed for the possibility of a dream of racial equality, class mobility and home ownership, all values that have had a pinnacle thrust in shaping the collective American consciousness. As Cullen tracks the shifts throughout American history, the chapter that focuses on Detached Houses: The Dream of Home Ownership” as the commonly accepted notion of the American Dream has the most relevance
to my research thesis. Driven by a “thirst for privacy and autonomy” (135) and a dream for upward mobility which relied on family stability and good schools, and above all acquiring a place to call your own.” Cullen’s description goes on to say that “the American Dream of owning a home,” is a dream that has had the broadest appeal and has been the most widely realized of any other version, and although it is highly flawed, it is extraordinarily “resilient and versatile.“ Cullen recounts our beginnings as a frontier state, and the value of land over the unstable currency of cash. Out of this came the image of the independent farmer cultivating a home as an end onto itself. He goes on to explain the Homestead Act signed by President Lincoln in 1862 which gave free land to any family or adult male (160 acres of land in the public domain, all that remained was for the settler to remain there for 5 years at which time the title would be transferred to the settler). Although the Homestead Act did not live up to its promise and the reality of the independent freeholder left a lot to be desired, the dream made an impact onto the very heart of American identity. It instilled an idea that a frontier existed in which anyone who desired a home and a career could grasp it. It was the idea that there was always opportunity where one can continually begin over again, like a well of rejuvenation (TURNER). Although the local supermarket has replaced the family farm, the dream and desire for a family homestead is as prominent as ever. Cullen describes how our waves of grain have now been replaced with crabgrass, as suburbia became the new dream. 1920 marked the first time that more families lived in cities rather than on farms. In 1990 most people lived neither in county nor in the city, but in the suburb, which can be traced to Jefferson because it was a combination of nature and home ownership.
16) Ferguson, Kara. “A Youthful Gaze at the American Dream.” Blogs.ket.org. Bill’s Eye, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. <blogs.ket.org/billseye/?p=3549>. This online article focuses on how the current economic crisis affects Millennials attitudes towards attaining the American Dream. With media dubbing the young generation as “screwed” and the Newsweek blog, The Daily Beast, reporting more than 25% of the generation as having more debt than savings, with recent college grads relying financially upon their parents, the article raises the question of whether or not the American dream is simply a relic of the past, or just simpy– a dream. Many of the statistics are derived form the Young Entrepreneur Council or YEC. A few key ones are that in
2011, 53% of Millennials who held a bachelor degree were either unemployed or underemployed, and that regardless of the hopelessness of their situation, debt and lack of jobs, 69% of youth surveyed still believed that the ”American Dream is within reach.” The generation is also less concerned in becoming extremely financially successful as in Mitt Romney: “‘I’ve got a bazillion dollars” successful, but successful in that “I can live on my own, I can support myself.” The generation is also more focused on a shared future rather than on individual responsibility. In conclusion, the generation is united in that they want the American Dream to be a reality of their future, but must still define it for themselves.
17) Kleber, Steve. White Paper: The Small Spaces Trend. Rep. Kleber & Associates, Mar. 2011. Web. Nov. 2012. <http://kleberandassociates.com/2011/03/white-paper-small-spaces/>. Americans are gravitating towards smaller, more efficient houses according to a White Paper released by Atlanta-based marketing agency Kleber and Associates (KA). The report covers the economic, demographic and environmental factors that led to the decrease of the average home size and thus to the small spaces trend. It is not so much a matter of downsizing, the report describes, rather “America has right-sized.” A key point of the report is that people are “right-sizing” due to the recession, giving up big homes with unused space, and buying a home that better suits one’s needs. According to the AIA “a severe housing recession, concern over rising home energy costs, and changing lifestyle have all increased interest in smaller homes that are designed to reflect the changing lifestyles of households.” An important statistic to collaborate the study’s findings is the size of the average American house increased by 230% in the last 50 years, while the number of people living in it fell by 23%. Home size continued to grow until 2007(the peak of the housing boom), where the trend ended abruptly. Industry data substantiates that homes have gotten smaller and more efficient. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average size of a new single-family home declined from 2,521 square feet in 2007 to 2,377 square feet in 2010. More than one-third of Americans say their ideal home size is less than 2,000 square feet. American’s ideal home size at 28% is, 1,400-2000 sq. ft. according to a Trulia-Harris interactive survey In 2010. Even builders are getting on the small spaces bandwagon as a NAHB survey showed that 52% of builders expect smaller homes in 2011 compared to 9% who expect to build larger homes. The NAHB survey goes on to predict
that the decline will last beyond the recession as those surveyed predicted that by 2013 the average home size will be between 2,000 and 2,399 sq. ft. What is worthwhile noting, is because of the restricted budgets of homeowners, according to a Builder article Consumers Rethink Home-Buying Priorities,” consumers were ready to forego McMansions in favor of buying what they needed. According to NAHB, “smaller homes are going to be less expensive to operate.” When it comes to small spaces and the housing market, affordability and value are the top priorities for homebuyers and homeowners. In such a way ‘right-sizing’ and smartspending go hand in hand. Another demographic that wants smaller homes is Baby Boomers. Entering their retirement years, they are looking to downsize for financial and practical reasons. The report also notes a growing value on having quality spaces versus quantity spaces, with fewer and more significant belongings. The paper also covers how population size is growing but households are decreasing. With one and two person households representing more than 63% of all households in 2012, this indicates that houses do not have to be so large. Other important notes are that people are craving more outdoor living areas, as this is another way to add a sense of luxury without conditioned square footage. According to AIA, outdoor living is the second most popular functional space. In conclusion, the report reflects that the small spaces trend contributes to a new way of living for consumers. As a USA Today article noted, “homeownership has long been a symbol of the American Dream and for awhile there, we supersized it. But since the recession we’ve been downsizing it.” The market has spoken – bigger is not always better.
18) Abrahamson, Gem. “The Freelance Generation: A Young American Calls Out ‘The American Dream”.” The Rivard Report. N.p., 30 Sept. 2012. Web. A critique of the American Dream and where it went wrong, written from the perspective of a youth who belongs to the Millennial Generation or the Freelance Generation as she calls it (making reference that we will do what we can to enjoy what we want, whether that means working two jobs). She asserts that the qualities that were once sought after, such as a house, white picket fence, steady job, these things, aren’t what will make her generation happy. From her point view she details how these things will just get you into debt and have nothing to do with attaining a good life. Although the Millennials were told if they just played by the rules, went to school, voted, that every with would be o.k., the reality turned out to be much more grim. Her story, tells how viewing the housing bubble collapse has “removed the home-ownership bullet from our American Dream list of necessities.” She also talks about going against status quo as a way she has found to
follow her dreams of a good life. She establishes a helpful list of traits that separate our generations from those before. A college degree doesn’t always guarantee success anymore. We have all the information we need at our fingertips. We are taking on more jobs in order to acquire more skills to pursue our independent goals. In essence fulfilling what is important to ourselves, and not others, drives us. This generation is also more about bikes than cars, community building events and zines, and self-education and giving free workshops. They enjoy sharing knowledge and are leaning towards living modestly. Learning to ditch the debt and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Her perspective made me think about how important ownership is to our dreams. Although my research has shown that owning your own home is important to this generation, it makes me question how much need there is to also own the land your home is on.
19) We The Tiny House People. 81 minutes. Dir. Kirsten Dirksen. N.p., 23 Apr. 2012. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcVrVA4bSQ>. TV producer and Huffington Post blogger-turneddocumentarian Kirsten Dirksen, explores the world of tiny homes and people searching for simplicity, selfsufficiency, minimalism, and happiness. The film documents the new craze of living small from an eclectic array of nontraditional pint-sized homes. Represented is16-year old Austin Hay’s 130-square-foot after-school project in Sonoma, to TreeHugger founder Graham Hill’s 300 sq. ft. apt in Soho, as well as other tiny homes including small apartments in New York, travel trailers (Jay Shafer), tools sheds, Fiver Brown’s mortgage-free floating home in California, and Jenine Alexander’s self designed and built $3,500 tiny house made from recycled materials. Reflects Dirksen: “I’m reluctant to claim there’s some sort of magic in small abodes — I’m sure some people are watching simply for the “house porn” (as Shafer describes it) — but it’s obvious these stripped-down shelters reveal for us the essence of home, and for many, make it a bit easier to [quoting Thoreau] “suck the marrow out of life.” The documentary covers issues such as the legality of building small, minimum size standards, and zoning laws and why they were created. It also touches on those wanting to change the way they live to avoid the burden of mortgage in order to save money and be free from unnecessary consumption. The film supports a primal urge to live simpler and more creative lives. In the film Jay Shaffer, the poster child of the small house movement, talks about changing the opinion of what is normal for housing in a country where the average home could fit 10 of his. He speaks about building code requirements, covering minimum size requirements, which entails that you have to have a certain size (large) house in order have a legal house, with at least 1 room required to be 120 square feet. Also how codes were pushed forward by the housing industry and the insurance industries in the 70s and 80s when profits were leveling off and they figured they could sell more houses
if they convinced people that they needed them. Austin Hay’s 130 sq. ft. after-school project, shows youth are already thinking ahead about living mortgage free, having less bills, and staying out of debtor’s prisons. Another idea to take away is that living small allows people wanting to live in neighborhoods where the cost of living has gotten out of their range, to do so. It also mentions mobile houses making sense for those who don’t own land yet, especially when land is so expensive. I appreciate the attitude that the tiny house movement is not the fad and the McMansions are the fad. The interview with Graham Hill established that the skill of the century is editing, cutting back on space, possessions, media, to refine, to get clarity and flexibility not just financially, but philosophically. He speaks about American’s culture of excess, while architecture has gone from 1000 square feet in the 50s to homes nowadays that are 2.5 times bigger while our families are getting smaller, yet our happiness levels are the same. So having excess means we aren’t any happier. Wheras people who cut back and edit do find themselves much happier. Editing thus becomes a positive, less is more. It assures also that this is not a sacrifice but a style of life. Living small uses the same amount of space for lots of different purposes. While the idea of excess space implies that not every space is meaningful. The more stuff you own the less liberated you are. There is something very American about small homes. It was the way of life for many pioneers and some of our best known country men grew up in very modest dwellings. Looking at the demographics for the country, most people are either old and their kids have left home, or they’re young and don’t have kids yet. This is what they want and this is what the market is asking for. Part of the American Dream is owning the home you live in.
20) Rice, Alison. “Consumers Rethink Home-Buying Priorities.” Builder Online. N.p., 22 Jan. 2009. Web. <http://www.builderonline.com/housing-trends/consumers-rethink-home-buyingpriorities.aspx>. “Bigger is not always better,” and so begins the article showing that there is a shift in what buyers are wanting according to experts and research done by NAHB and Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. In 2009, the magazine reported a trend away from McMansions and trophy homes towards cozier, organized, and economical, in terms of operating costs, homes. “Wii-sized rooms, a home office, and energy efficiency,” were at the top of consumer’s wishlist for their next house. In lieu of rising energy costs, 91% of readers on an online survey from the magazine’s site, maintained that they wanted an energy efficient home with lower utility bills, and would pay more upfront for these features (NAHB‘s survey revealed they were willing to pay $6,000 more for their home to save
$1,000 annually on energy costs). This shift corroborates an increased awareness in “long-term interests.” Another notable spike was towards outdoor features. 65% reported wanting a front porch, which seems to imply an increase towards community connection. Another 71% said a home office was either “desirable” or “essential,” according to NAHB, which supports a scenario of more people working from home. In conclusion, the recent housing recession has caused consumers to desire something different and builders in turn, should rethink what they build in order to satisfy customer’s needs.
21) Jay Shafer: The Politics of Tiny Houses. Dir. George Packard. Curiouslylocal. com Movie. Parrot Creek Productions, 12 Feb. 2011. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hq9xf0OhaVI>. This film occurs over the course of a few hours with Jay Shafer (Tumbleweed Tiny House Company), in his 96 sq. ft. house-on-wheels in Sebastopol, California. The film focuses on the political angle involved with building and living small, why building and zoning codes are stacked against tiny houses, and how the costs of purchase and upkeep compare to the big houses Jay calls “debtors’ prisons.” According to Jay, a small house is loaded politically as it stands for an idea of just how simply we can live. Since small houses in many areas are illegal (allegedly due to safety reasons), it is also a form of civil disobedience. There is a shift in seeing McMansions as luxurious, for ironically they are the debtor’s prisons while small houses are the one’s offering us the luxury of freedom from a large mortgage, maintenance, and from “stuff” you don’t really need. Building codes are developed at a
national level with the International Code Council and adopted by state governments which delegate them to municipalities, and the only way that states have been able to get away with the mandatory consumption laws they have is claiming it necessary for safety and well being reasons. Jay discusses that in order to live in a small house in certain areas you have to find loopholes that exists. This tends to amount to putting a house on wheels and going the RV route, because they are more lax than laws that form our housing codes and more reasonable because they are not guided by the housing industry. Idea: Trailer parks. There’s a great model for zoning that allows for the last form of widespread community in this country.
22) Re: American Dream: Six Urban Housing Prototypes for Los Angeles. [New York, N.Y.]: Princeton Architectural, 1995. Print. The ideas and proposals in this book are meant to explore the rapidly changing socio-economic climate of Los Angeles and its impact on the American Dream as embodied in the ownership of a single-family detached house. With the rapid urbanization, expansion, and growth of Los Angeles causing an increase in owning property, the idea of the dream of homeownership in Los Angeles is slipping out of the grasp of the majority of the population. Each project proposes a solution to this overarching problem through challenging building and zoning codes, redefining the relationship between property and ownership, while accounting for the shift in the single family home itself. It is geared, as much to the urbanist, and public housing developer, as it is to the architect, calling forth a sense of social responsibility in all. It offers practical solutions, yet is also speculatively daring as it tries to push the envelope for what a single-family home could be. The book does a good job at setting the stage historically, exploring how a concern for housing being one that has diminished in importance in the field of architecture. The book thus sets to reposition housing as central to the architectural discourse, for the “the single family house remains a potent image of the American Dream.” The book also clearly establishes that no house works as an isolated, independent unit; rather each dwelling is inexorably linked to others around it. Each project reconciles “the desire for land ownership and the urban consequences of conspicuous consumption.” None of the projects offer schemes that go beyond the scale of an entire city block while others attempt only to redesign within the confines of an individual house. Some
focus on the loosening of codes to allow for backyard or granny flats, while other schemes allow for rental units within the footprint of existing single family lots, allowing for income security and companionship as individuals grow older. An important issue of preserving the character of a single-family neighborhood while allowing the production of additional dwelling units is raised. It touched home when the book spoke about the degree over the past two decades that LA has become a densely urbanized Metropolis, with population density increasing 50% since 1980. It would be valuable to examine Portland’s extent of growth and density maps. It would be valid to see the increase in population along with density per square mile throughout the years. In Los Angeles this has severely stripped the sense of community character as single-family dwellings make way for multi-family dwellings upwards of 80 units. For our cities to not become “Manhattanized,” solutions must be met that address the affordability of houses as the population grows. When “1/5 of the households are left unable to afford or find the means to purchase a single family house, while more than 40% spend more than one third of their incomes on rent.” Those who seek a home must find one located at the periphery of the city from which they must commute long hours just for the privilege of owning a piece of the American Dream. On top of that, for many only a paycheck lies between them and being forced out of their homes. Ultimately the ideal of the single-family house needs revision. The reinvention of the dream must include more urban housing for more people in less space, while maintaining a sense of privacy and presence of the individual homestead.
23) Rybczynski, Witold. Home: A Short History of an Idea. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1986. Print. This book is a historical examination of the material and cultural influences that have shaped our notions of home and comfort from the Middle Ages all the way up to the 20th century. “The appearance of [the word] ‘comfort’ to signify a level of domestic amenity is not documented until the eighteenth century,” writes author Witold Rybczynski. He goes on to explain why, until then, no word was needed “to articulate an idea that previously had either not existed or had not required expression.” Rybczynski explores the underlying concept of domesticity through chapters covering ideas of intimacy and privacy, domesticity, ease, and ideas about light, air, and efficiency as they have changed over time. It wasn’t until the 18th century, that the nuclear family as a residential unit existed, since children were sent away to live and work with others at a young age, and households always included many unrelated servants or apprentices. It was only later, as the concept of the nuclear family became more established, that the need
for privacy came to the fore, and private and public spaces began to be differentiated within the house. One of the themes of the book is how the field of interior design has often been faced with the conflict between what looks good and what feels good. Rybczynski stresses that often the style of a design wins out, leaving the residents with the very least in comfort. This book reminds architects and interior designers that even in today’s society it is easy to get caught up in what is in style or what would make a statement rather than what is comfortable for occupants to inhabit. What I learned is that the modern (Western) idea of a home is very new, historically. Even the notion of “family” that seems so central to our social organization, goes back no further than the early 18th Century. Privacy was rare. Beds were built to handle 6-8 adults and work tables often tripled as dining boards and sleeping platforms.
24) Maginn, Dan. “Let’s Get Small.” Dwell: Small World Nov. 2012: 94-102. Print. This ingenious Dwell article illustrates a five-step program for those wanting to “get small,” and come out from the under the weight of owning too much stuff. The first step: Edit Your Life. This step involves, analyzing what it is you own and whittling it down to the best, most essential of the bunch. After this “Stuff Funeral,” further examine the pile for those things that are vital to your daily functioning, and continue to edit as deemed possible. Step Two: Measure Your Life. In this step record all essential functions: sleeping, eating, etc. Once this has been accomplished edit this list as you did the stuff, and then record the square footage each of these essential functions take up. Then ask yourself, “can you do with less?” Once you get all your minimum-square footage sizes for your functional needs, add them up, and add 10% for circulation, and there you have it, the final
numero is how small you can go. Step Three: Think Volume. How much good design can you exercise? Utilize double-functioning elements, i.e. stairs that double as storage. Think hinged, sliding, and niches. Go Shaker for their hyper-efficient style. Step Four: Get the Light Right. “Daylight is the lifeblood of a Good Small Space.” Think diffuse, less direct. Utilize the natural shrubbery to help control solar gains. And for artificial lighting, use dimming lights to save energy. Step Five: Think Outside the Box. This step relates to everything outside of your small space. Connect via porches and patios. Go out to see a play or to the park to take advantage of all the square footage you can borrow. This is a great starter manual, and may make a good analytical tool in assessing case studies.
25) Tracey, Melissa. “Home Size Makes an Unexpected Turn.” Web log post. Styled Staged & Sold. National Associations of Realtors, 16 July 2012. Web. <http://styledstagedsold.blogs. realtor.org/2012/07/16/home-sizes-make-an-unexpected-turn/>. This blog article examines the downsizing trend reported in new homes, but notes a discrepancy between what homebuyers want and the Census Bureau that reported an increase in the square footage of new homes from 2010 to 2011. The article sets off to prove that although there was an increase of 88 square feet (from 2,392 square feet in 2010 to 2,480 square feet in 2011) in new home sizes, this in no way means the McMansion is back. Rather it explains that people are still demanding smaller homes, and this discrepancy between demand and the super-sizing noted by the statis-
tics were due to upper-end buyers skewing the numbers. “Nearly 40% of new single-family homes in 2011 had four or more bedrooms, 28 percent had three or more bathrooms, and 54% of new homes were two stories or taller.” Since upper-end buyers were the ones primarily doing the buying in 2011, this accounted for the preference of larger homes. In a normal market, where first-home buyers account for the majority of home sales, the want is still for smaller, more affordable, and less costly to maintain, homes.
GET OFF THE GRID. 45
CLIP AND SAVE: IDEAS TO GO
Since 1970, Portland has gone from being one of the most affordable housing markets in the nation to one of the least affordable. Average household income has risen 42 percent while housing costs have risen 100 percent. Over 55 percent of the population lives in substandard housing or pays over 30 percent of their meager incomes for decent housing.
The everyday average american including... those working 10-hour workdays, or two-income households still underwater on their mortgage, or any college graduate $30,000 in debt that can’t find a job is not able to afford or find the means to purchase a single family home, and is still living at home or doubling up in apartments... Anyone who wants out of the rat race of work, exhaustion, and more debt, and...
DOES NOT want to be house poor DOES NOT believe bigger is better DOES NOT value quantity over quality DOES NOT want be tied down with a huge mortgage DOES NOT want to live above their means to live for the status quo or be swayed by DOES NOT want others’ expectations of a what home should provide
DOES NOT want to owe more on a home than what it’s worth DOES NOT want to be chained to a dream
IT’S NOT FOR EVERYBODY Some people like big bills. Need to impress with the size of their homes. Want a huge lawn. But if you want to live your dream not theirs, live simpler, downsize, get off the grid, flip the bird to wall street, and regain freedom. This might be for you. LIVE YOUR DREAM NOT THEIRS!
ART & IDEAS MODEL/STRUCTURE
Contact and interview pertinent people
Formulate research into worthy thesis interrogation
Conduct exploratory/generative research with committee members and other participants
Design first prot
Work on thesis p
THESIS TIMEL I N E 50
Read books and articles
method of information dispersal, visualizations
paper and document research
e models, hands on investigations
and revise prototype with relevant participants
Build thesis presentation
Refine & turn in thesis doc
Cost of Living is the Biggest Threat to Portlanders
Sourced from The October 2012 Issue of Portland Monthly
Bibliography Abrahamson, Gem. “The Freelance Generation: A Young American Calls Out ‘The American Dream”.” The Rivard Report. N.p., 30 Sept. 2012. Web. Arieff, Allison, and Bryan Burkhart. Prefab. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2002. Print. Bangs, Lester. Psychotic Reactions: Et Autres Carburateurs Flingués. Auch (Gers): Tristram, 1996. Print. Bergdoll, Barry, and Reinhold Martin. Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, 2012. Print. Chapin, Ross. “Living Large by Building Small.” Lecture. Build Small/Live Large Conference. Portland, Oregon. 26 Oct. 2012. Web. <http://living-future.org/cascadia/buildsmall>. Cordell, Kasey, and Randy Gragg, eds. “Who We Are.” Portland Monthly Oct. 2012: 55-68. Print. Cullen, Jim. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation. Oxford [England: Oxford UP, 2003. Print. Denzer, Anthony, Gregory Ain, and Thomas S. Hines. Gregory Ain: The Modern Home as Social Commentary. New York: Rizzoli, 2008. Print. Ferguson, Kara. “A Youthful Gaze at the American Dream.” Blogs.ket.org. Bill’s Eye, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. <blogs.ket.org/billseye/?p=3549>. Ferré, Albert, and Tihamér Hazarja. Salij. Total Housing: Alternatives to Urban Sprawl. Barcelona: Actar, 2010. Print. Gauer, James, and Catherine Tighe. The New American Dream: Living Well in Small Homes. New York, NY: Monacelli, 2004. Print. Gianino, Andrew. The Modular Home. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2005. Print. Jay Shafer: The Politics of Tiny Houses. Dir. George Packard. Curiouslylocal.com Movie. Parrot Creek Productions, 12 Feb. 2011. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq9xf0OhaVI>. Kaufmann, Michelle, and Catherine Remick. Prefab Green. Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith, 2009. Print. Kleber, Steve. White Paper: The Small Spaces Trend. Rep. Kleber and Associates, Mar. 2011. Web. Nov. 2012. <http://kleberandassociates.com/2011/03/white-paper-small-spaces/>. Kotkin, Joel. “Are Millennials the Screwed Generation?” Web log post. The Daily Beast. Newsweek, 16 July 2012. Web. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/07/15/are-millennials-thescrewed-generation.html>.
Losantos, Àgata. Mini House Now. New York: Collins Design, 2006. Print. Maginn, Dan. “Let’s Get Small.” Dwell: Small World Nov. 2012: 94-102. Print. Maxwell, Lorraine E. “It Doesn’t Take a McMansion to Have the Perfect Space for Family Interaction.” Cornell Chronicle Online (2009):. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. NEED TO KNOW | Living Large: A Look inside the Tiny House Movement. 9 minutes. PBS, 31 July 2010. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl58kpKLsFk>. Noever, Peter, and Kimberli Meyer. Urban Future Manifestos. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2010. Print. Re: American Dream: Six Urban Housing Prototypes for Los Angeles. [New York, N.Y.]: Princeton Architectural, 1995. Print. Rice, Alison. “Consumers Rethink Home-Buying Priorities.” Builder Online. N.p., 22 Jan. 2009. Web. <http://www.builderonline.com/housing-trends/consumers-rethink-home-buying-priorities. aspx>. Rollins, Henry. Get in the Van. Los Angeles, CA: 2.13.61 Publications, 1994. Print. Rybczynski, Witold. Home: A Short History of an Idea. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1986. Print. Schneider, Tatjana, and Jeremy Till. Flexible Housing. Oxford, UK: Architectural, 2007. Print. Shore, Nick. “Millennials: The New American Dreamers.” HLN. N.p., 14 Nov. 2012. Web. <http://www.hlntv. com/article/2012/11/14/nick-shore-mtv-gen-y-millennial-making-america Teige, Karel, and Eric Dluhosch. The Minimum Dwelling. Cambridge (Mass.): MIT, 2002. Print. Till, Jeremy, and Tatjana Schneider. “Flexible Housing: The Means to the End.” Arq: Architectural Research Quarterly 9.3-4 (2005): 287. Print. Till, Jeremy. Architecture Depends. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2009. Print. Tracey, Melissa. “Home Size Makes an Unexpected Turn.” Web log post. Styled Staged & Sold. National Associations of Realtors, 16 July 2012. Web. <http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor. org/2012/07/16/home-sizes-make-an-unexpected-turn/>. We The Tiny House People. 81 minutes. Dir. Kirsten Dirksen. N.p., 23 Apr. 2012. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcVrVA4bSQ>. Wilhide, Elizabeth. How to Design a House. London: Conran Octopus, 2010. Print. Your House Now: 36 Propositions for a Home. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2002. Print. Zittel, Andrea, and Jane Michael. Andrea Zittel: Lay of My Land. Munich: Prestel, 2011. Print.
Mater's Thesis in Architecture