Everything will be ok
There are a lot of great firms represented in Architectural Record's 2005 Young Architect's Awards, but one in particular caught my eye. In Rethinking traditional ideas of the house as a structure composed of walls ceiling and floor, Austrian Architecture firm AllesWirdGut, looked to the future. Well, the past really... Temporal Semantics aside, their inspiration for their project, TurnOn, came from Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. Specifically, the rotating zero gravity room. TurnOn is a unique circular living module designed to accommodate multiple functions associated with the house. The modules are attached together, creating a cylinder-like space where each piece can literally be turned to alter its function. Various module types would be fabricated to reflect the multiple program elements of a house. ie: kitchen, bath, bedroom, etc.
In designing TurnOn, AWG also considered the automotive industry's ability to prefabricate, customize, and mass produce the elements composing vehicles. "Just like customizing a car, the buyer could customize and accessorize to their own tastes and price range. Colors can be chosen, accessories such as flat-screen monitors could be added," says Architect Herwig Spiegl, "and the modules could be arranged in infinite combinations."
The work of AllesWirdGut reminded me of some of the ideas of their fellow Austrian Architect, Frederick Kiesler,best known for his Endless Theatre (1924) and Endless House (1958). Like AWG, Kiesler believed that the concept of house could extend beyond the conventional walls, floors, ceilings. His idea of the "endless" implies an eternity of both time and space. The goal of his endless house was to create a more organic space responding to instinctual human sensibilities, as well as a space which can successfully satisfy the changing functions of a home. He used curved forms and egg-shaped rooms to create self supporting, column-free spaces that can be adapted for multiple purposes. I've just rediscovered Kiesler, so I'm sure there'll be another post or two about his work later in the week as my obsession grows.
Contemporary residential architecture (including prefab), although often gorgeous, rarely challenges our dogmatic preconceptions of what a residence actually is, or what it could be. I would love to see some of the ideas of AllesWirdGut put into practice, or further explorations of Kiesler's concept of the endless, to see if these new housing types - which i think are great in theory - could function successfully in practice.