|Posted by Emilton on July 3, 2016 at 4:35 AM|
THE UK ISN’T WINNING any awards this week for its collaboration skills, but the country deserves some credit for “Months,” one of five installations in the British Pavilion’s “Home Economics” exhibition at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale. Here, if not in the European Union, Britain presents a new model for shared living spaces.
“Months” proposes a monthly rent that includes not only the use of real estate, but all domestic needs—things like cleaning, cooking, laundry, maintenance, and wifi. “We’re interested in making communal living easy and affordable,”says Pier Vittorio Aureli, a partner at Dogma, the Brussels architecture firm behind the installation. (The words “A home without housework” appear on the frame of the doorway leading to the installation.) At the center of the room is a private, blue-paneled, two-story “core.” It’s designed for sleeping, washing, and occasional cooking. The surrounding double-height zones—which make up the majority of the room — become shared spaces for working and socializing. The idea is that residents share services as well as spaces. The installation takes up one of five inter-connected rooms inside the British Pavilion’s austere Venetian palazzo.
Aureli says the plan was inspired by the boarding house, a once prevalent model in the U.S. that was replaced after World War II with the rise of suburban living. He adds that boarding houses like New York’s Chelsea Hotel once did exactly that, but took on a stigma as being unfit for family living.
Properties modeled after “Months” could rise on unused lots away from city centers, near mass transit. Aureli and his team envision cities using tax incentives to encourage developers to create housing in these zones, rather than using them for commercial purposes.
Like “Months,” the other four installations in the “Home Economics” exhibition are named for, and designed around, increments of time. “Hours,” for instance, envisions what a shared home environment would look like, if it one lived there for no more than a few hours at a time. It is filled with simple objects whose forms (modular daybeds) and functions (shared wardrobes) are transitory in nature. The “Days” exhibit explores the potential of portability, proposing strange new types of personal spaces—two inflatable, wifi-connected spheres that can you can climb inside and roll around to new environments. It suggests that you really can live anywhere, as long as you can get online. “Years,” the least architectural installation of the bunch, is a shell construction that imagines a home built for profiteering, not living; it contains only those things necessary to qualify for a mortgage: a roof, running water, electricity, a lavatory, and a basin—and spartan examples of each, at that.
“We were surprised that that this was the first time housing had been explored through the lens of time,” notes Jack Self, one of the three curators of the British Pavilion. “People once worked in one place and lived in one home for their whole lives. When you’re talking about a highly mobile, often precariously-employed populace who are constantly on the move, those models no longer work.”
The masterminds behind “Decades,” London architecture firm Hesselbrand, oversaw construction and design of each installation. “Our goal was to make immersive environments to explain an idea,” says Hesselbrand cofounder Magnus Casselbrant, pointing out how space—rather than lots of complex text—can speak for itself.
And while the collaborative spaces all evoke our omnipresent sharing economy in their own way, don’t call them derivative of Airbnb. Aureli says he prefers to think of “Months” as an idealistic experiment in communal living, not a get-rich scheme. “Sharing economy is a buzzword that becomes a way to make more money out of everything,” he notes. But after the Brexit fallout, Brits might consider all the money-making options they can get.