16 Houses: Building a house in the city
“Johnny Carson’s curtain was set quite far back from the front of the camera/stage. His set-up gave the impression that television was the stage of live truth, Carson gave the curtain wall a new spatial presence that empowered the foreground to erase the background…”1… Ed Sullivan liked the Vaudeville version of his curtain to be tight up against him. Ed’s producers kept his candid personality in the foreground by blending Ed’s suit with the curtain itself. I could suggest that Ed was just one big curtain-one big surface-no outside, inside, just Big Daddy bringing home the toys for the whole family.”2
1 “What’s so funny: Modern Jokes and Modern Architecture”, Brian Boigan. p.228. The Presence of Mies. Edited by Detlef Mertins. Princeton Architectural Press. 1994.
2 Ibid. pp. 227 - 228.
Ed Sullivan became his curtain. Johnny Carson broke from his. Both men are liberated from their respective sets because of their transformations. The depth of space and the continuity of surface allow the stuff of the feedback house to exist primarily as stuff. Houston’s Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation and Rice University commissioned this prototype affordable house. It is located in Houston’s Fifth Ward District. The FWCRC is a non-profit agency that built single-family houses through the Voucher Program, a federal housing initiative from the late 1990’s, in which the disbursement of down payment “vouchers” was used to assist low-income families in the purchase of houses. Our proposal eliminates much of the fit and finish of a traditional home, loosening joints and treating walls as continuous curtains for presentation of everyday objects. The hope is that by isolating objects within a type of stage set. Those objects and subsequently the surfaces themselves reveal something of their own making. Ultimately houses, and the objects within them, are seen as stuff. Perhaps things should be understood in terms of the time, labor, and capital needed to acquire them.
Diverse Works in Houston, Texas
University of Texas School of Architecture
16 Houses | Designing the Public’s Private House - Michael Bell, 2003, Monacelli Press
306090 V02 March 2002
A Journal of Emerging Architecture + Design