SERVING THE RICH 2

WAKE UP GLEN. HISTORY IS FILLED WITH LAVISH CASTLES, PALLADIO VILLAS, MANOR ESTATES, AND FANTASTIC HOMES. WITH SLICK FINISHES . WITH THE MODERN MOVEMENT THERE WAS AN INTEREST IN NEW ARCHITECTURE FOR THE WORKING MAN. CORBU, BAUHAUS, IRVING GILL, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, NEUTRA, GREGORY AIN, BUCKMINISTER FULLER , EICHLER HOMES AND MANY MORE. NOW ARCHITECTS LET THE BUILDERS CALL THE SHOTS AND THE RESULTS ARE ENDLESS PSEUDO-STYLE BOXES THAT VARY WITH THE AMENITIES. CARTER’S HOUSES FOR HUMANITY PRETTY MUCH SUMS UP THE SOPHISTICATION OF CRUDE DESIGN FOR THE POOR.

DANIEL HAFID RESIDENCE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA 1990 7,000 SQUARE FEET

WHERE IS ARCHITECTURAL SIMPLICITY, COST EFFECTIVE DESIGN FOR THE MASSES? OR IS THIS A CONTRADICTION. THE RICH SEEM TO BE THE ONLY ONES THAT APPRECIATE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN ON THE HOUSING SCALE. DOES CLASSICAL MUSIC HAVE TO BE LEARNED TO BE APPRECIATED? WHEN THE BLUE DANUBE WALTZ OPENED THE MOVIE 2001 WHILE ONE WAS FLOATING IN SPACE, THE AUDIENCE DID NOT HAVE TO TAKE A COURSE IN CLASSICAL MUSIC TO UNDERSTAND THE BEAUTY OF THE SOUND. THIS SHOULD HAPPEN WITH HOUSING, BUT THE MODERN MOVEMENT HAS FALLEN SHORT OF CREATING THE BEAUTY TO ATTRACT THE MASSES. A COMMON THEME IS TO RETREAT TO THE PAST AND LIVE IN A STAGE SET THAT MAKES YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE. WHAT DID THE ROMAN, ENGLISH TUTOR, CAPE COD, MISSION , MEDITERRAIN, POLYNESIAN, MOROCCAN, EGYPTIAN, PLANTATION, ETC. STYLES HAVE THAT MADE PEOPLE FEEL COMFORTABLE. NOW ALL WITH HUGE TV SETS THAT BRING THE ARTIC TO HOLLYWOOD, CHINA TO WASHINGTON, IRAC TO GHANA. THIS FREEDOM OF CHOICE CREATED BY UNRESTRICTED AVAILABLE OPTIONS LETS EVERYONE BE THE JUDGE OF WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM. WITH THAT COMES A COMMON DENOMINATOR OF CRASS TASTE.

OH FOR THE DAYS WHEN THE MATERIALS WERE LIMITED AND THE COLORS PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ACCENTS. LIKE MYKONOS, OR THE NORTHERN SUN PACKED ADOBE TOWNS OF MEXICO. ALL THOSE BEAUTIFUL HILL TOWNS OF ITALY PUT IT ALL TOGETHER.

LIKE WISE SHOULD NOT THE BEAUTY OF ECONOMICAL HOUSING BE THE GOAL TO ENRICH THE BEAUTY OF ONES PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT? IT HAS NOT HAPPENED YET. I DESIGNED AN ARTISTIC HOUSING FOR THE POOR IN MANAGUA NICARAGUA. THE THINKING BEING THE MATERIALS ARE THE SAME, THE LABOR A BIT MORE, BUT IT WAS A REPETITIVE SYSTEM THAT WAS LIKE A COOKIE CUTTER THAT WAS CHEAP.

ARTY HOUSING FOR THE POOR, MANAGUA NICARAGUA 2004

ARCHITECTS GO WHERE THE MONEY GOES. LEONARDO DA VINCI BESIDES BEING AN ARCHITECT AND PAINTER WAS A WAR ARCHITECT AND COULD DESIGN FORTIFICATIONS AND WEAPONTRY. HE WENT WHERE THE BUCK TOOK HIM, OFTEN SERVING OPPOSING SIDES. THE RICH CAN AFFORD CUSTOM LAVISH HOMES THAT FILL THE ARCHITECTURAL JOURNALS, THE RECENT MODULAR HOUSES FALL SHORT OF REALLY COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE PROBLEM.

CONSEQUENTLY YOU HAVE THE ARCHITECTS IN BED WITH CORPORATE MONEY CLIENTS. WHERE DOES THIS LEAD, JUST MORE CUSTOM LAVISH HOMES WITH FINITE DETAILSA THAT GET PUBLISHED AND BECOME THE STANDARD FOR THE IN PEOPLE TO HAVE. NOT MUCH DIFFERENT THAN MIES’ BARCELONA PAVILION. SLICK, ELEGANT, CLEAN, COSTLY. AND FOR FASCISM. THE LOVE OF THE ARCHITECTURAL PROFESSION.

I AM REMINDED OF A STORY I HEARD FROM PETER PIERCE, DESIGNER OF THE SPACE FRAME FOR BIOSPHERE TWO, AND THE STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT FOR MY GREEN MACHINE. HE WORKED WITH CHARLES EAMES ON FURNITURE DESIGN, HE ASKED EAMES ONE DAY IF THEY COULD DESIGN A CHAIR THAT THE OFFICE CLEANING LADY COULD PURCHASE. EAMES REPLAY WAS THAT THE CHAIR DESIGN COULD NOT AFFORD THE RESEARCH MONEY.

THERE IS NO EASY MONEY DOING HIGH END DESIGN FOR THE POOR.

CAN THE POOR EVER EXPERIENCE HIGH END DESIGN? CIVIC BUILDINGS, LETS GET IS STRAIGHT. MUSEUMS EXCEPT FOR TOURS OF SCHOOL KIDS CAN NOT BE EXPERIENCED. IT COST TOO MUCH MONEY TO GO THERE. PERFORMING ART CENTERS, GOT FIFTY BUCKS FOR A TICKET? EVEN STADIUMS ARE PRICED OUT OF REACH FOR THE POOR. IF YOU GET RELIGIOUS THEY WILL LET YOU IN FOR FREE AND PASS THE PLATE.

WE HAVE A CLASS SYSTEM BASED ON MONEY. CAPITALISM WON.

INTELLIGENCE, CREATIVENESS, AND SINSITIVITY DO NOT TRANSLATE TO SUCCESS.

THE LATEST FROM MARTHA, OH TO BE CORRECT, BANAL AND POPULAR

FACE REALITY, ARCHITECTS SERVE THE RICH AND JUST HOPE TO DO SOCIALLY CONSCIENCE DESIGN. I DATED A PSYCHOLOGIST THAT SRERVED THE RICH, HER RESPONSE WAS THEY HAVE PROBLEMS TOO. BUT THE GREEN SMOOTHS THINGS OUT. SHE CAME FROM WORKING CLASS AND EDUCATED HER WAY OUT OF POVERTY AND VOWED TO NEVER BE POOR, YET SHE LAVISLY SPENT ON HERSELF AND LOVED THE EXPENSIVE LIFE STYLE. WHERE ARE THE MOVIES WHERE AN OPERATION IS REJECTED FOR LACK OF MONEY. WHERE ARE THE MOVIES ON THE SLUMS THAT ARE ALLOWED,

A CLASS AT SCI-ARC OF MINE DID A HOUSING SYSTEM OF 8X8 CUBICLES FOR THE HOMELESS WITH STUDENTS IN 1988 THAT WAS REJECTED BY THE LIBERAL CITY COUNCIL, BECAUSE IT WAS TOO CHEAP AND MIGHT BE A HOUSING ALTERNATIVE. AND YET THE LIBERAL CITY COUNCIL IN SANTA MONICA FED THE HOMELESS EVERY NIGHT IN FRONT OF CITY HALL. ANOTHER BLOG

THE RICH NOR POWER IN CONTROL DO NOT WANT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. IF THEY DID IT WOULD HAPPEN. I WAS AT AN ART CEREMONY TODAY IN MANAGUA SITTING NEXT TO A WIDE DOOR OPEN TO A CENTRIAL PLAZA. WHILE THE CERIMONIES WERE HAPPPENING, A FEW OF THE BAREFOOTED STREETS KIDS DRENCHED BY THE RAIN LOOKED IN UPON THE GATHERING. SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH THIS SCENE IN A COUNTY THAT BRAGS ABOUT BEING IN TOUCH WITH THE POOR.

LOOK FOWARD TO YOUR COMMENTS,

GLEN

GREEN MACHINE 3 BR HOUSING MODULAR FOR FAMILY OF SIX, 1980 FRAMING SYSTEM, NOTICE RETRACTABLE ROOF IN CENTER

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10 comments

  1. COME ON GLEN, ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT THE GREEN MACHINE HOUSING MODULE (WHICH I DREW FOR YOU), IS INEXPENSIVE HOUSING FOR THE POOR?….. LET’S BE REALISTIC BROTHA, ALUMINUM FRAMES, CURVED GLASS, ROLLING ROOF….. HARDLY ECONOMICAL OR IN TOUCH WITH THE DRENCHED AND BAREFOOTED.

    ENJOYED YOUR WORDS & PICS.

    • DEAR RALPH,

      THE REFLECTION OF THE AGE WE LIVE IN. YES THE USED AIRSTREAM TRAILER WAS SELLING FOR $6,000 DOLLARS AT THE TIME. THAT WAS FOR THE POOR. YOU KNOW ANYTHING CHEAPER WITH ALL THE AMENITIES THE MODULAR WAS TWO AIRSTREAMS TOGETHER. THE IDEA BEING THAT YOU COULD MASS PRODUCE THEM. THE ESTIMATES BASED ON SOME BID PARTS ON THE MODULAR STRUCTURE WAS $ !7,000 AT THE TIME. THAT IS CHEAP. GOOD DESIGN MASS PRODUCED REDUCES COSTS. THE AIRSTREAM TRAILER PROVIDED THAT. I SENT YOU AN ARTICLE ON SOME ARCHITECT IN SANTA BARBARA LIVING AND RUNNING HIS OFFICE OUT OF A REMODELED AIRSTREAM TRAILER YESTERDAY.

      WHY DOES IT TAKE AN EDUCATED ONE TO SEE AND ENJOY THE OBVIOUS. YES THE BAREFOOTED POOR COULD BE LIVING IN THESE INSTEAD OF THE SLUM . WHAT A CONTRAST OF SPACE FROM WHAT YOU ARE INVOLVED IN DETAILING FOR THE RICH, THEY COULD DO A HUNDRED MODULARS FOR THE SAME PRICE AS ONE OF YOUR GEMS FOR THE RICH. I AM TRAPPED IN THE SAME GAME, AND I AM POINTING THAT OUT THAT WE SERVE THE RICH. SUBSTANTIALLY COMING TO GRIPS WITH THE POOR IS YET TO COME.

      THANKS FOR THE COMMENT AND GETTING ME EXCITED. AND OH YES,THANKS FOR DOING THE MODULAR ISOMETRIC AFTER I GAVE YOU THE MODEL AND ROUGHS ON HOW IT WOULD BE. YOU ARE A UNIQUE TALENT. I WILL NEVER FORGET HOW ON THE PEAK COMPETITION YOU SLAPPED ALL THE DISORGANIZED STUFF TOGETHER TO MAKE AN AWSOME BOARD PRESENTATIONS IN ONE NIGHT.

      KEEP CLOSE,

      GLEN

  2. Martha Stewart markets herself as the epitome of taste. Having taste, originally meaning people who could afford spices, therefor the food tasted good, ie good taste; has it’s equivalents in interior decoration as purchasing power, again good tast is expensive taste, things I can afford.

    The lines of good taste blur when one has occupied the faux experience of good taste: Surreal, unreal, fake diamonds, gold paint, look a-like expensive details, knock offs brands, my favorite real oak formica,

    later on

    eric chavkin

    • ERIK,

      I VALUE GOOD DESIGN WAY BEYOND ANY STAMPS OF APPROVAL. I BOUGHT ZEBRA FRAME READING GLASSES AT THE DOLLAR STORE YESTERDAY, THAT MAKE ME LOOK OH SO COOL WITH MY TROPICAL SUMMER SHIRT AND GRAYING HAIR.

      MARTHA TO ME IS OH SO CRASS. SELLING TASTE WITH MARGINAL TASTE. REALLY TO BE PITIED IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE HUGE THUNDERING UP SCALE MASSES FOLLOWING HER.

      I INCLUDED HER, BECAUSE I THINK HER RECENT HOUSE ESPOUSES SERVING THE RICH WITH THE SAME TASTE AS MOST CRUDE POOR HOUSING PROJECTS. HAVE YOU SEEN THE BRAD PITT MONSTERS IN NEW ORLEANS? BARD GOT ARCHITECTS INVOLVED.

      GLEN

      THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS. I AM SURE YOU HAVE MORE TO SAY AND PLEASE DO.

      SEE YOU IN LA IN SEPTEMBER

  3. Glen,

    There is so much to respond that I wish I had a whole week to write. Are you just stirring the nest by being facetious or do you really mean a lot of what you wrote here?

    By the way, no response to yesterday’s comment?

    You state right off the bat that architects used to have an interest in housing for the workers, implying that now architects no longer have that interest.

    First, I don’t recall any period of time when there hasn’t been a concern, at least by some architects, for worker housing. However, the housing that has been provided for the workers has been not necessarily out of some high ideal but out of economic necessity… the need for company bosses to house workers cheaply, efficiently, and close to the workplace, because guess what, it’s good for profits! Remember company towns? I live in one of those. My 3 bedroom 960 s.f. house was produced to house employees of McDonnell Douglas towards the end of WWII.

    Your statement that “now architects let the builders call the shots” couldn’t be further from the truth. That is, with extremely rare exceptions, architects have always had clients and these clients have been wealthy and powerful, and they have always called the shots.This is just as true when the pyramids in ancient Egypt were built as it is today.

    Lee Trevino once said, “the older we get, the better we used to be”, so perhaps in hindsight you think that these dead architects were in some way more idealistic than architects are now? If that’s the case, I’m not an architect or an idealist, and neither are a lot of other architects I know.

    Speaking for myself, although I have many fellow architects that devote long hours to affordable housing and such worthwhile endeavors, would take offense to being compared to Carter’s Habitat for Humanity, a Christian ministry. I don’t know if I take offense at my architecture being called “pseudo-style boxes” because I have no idea what “pseudo-style” means. Perhaps you can explain in a future blog?

    Next you ask, “where is architectural simplicity, cost effective design for the masses?”. Great question, but you follow with an example of your “artistic housing for the poor”, which is anything but simple. Admittedly, the curves cost more, yet this cost just happens not to be so much because of the low labor costs of Nicaragua where this curvy project happens to have been proposed for. Still, it is not simple and it is not cost effective. Simple means it can be built quickly and efficiently, and curves are neither. Simple means one has flexibility of furnishing the space once completed, the curves at that scale do not allow that. Cost effective goes hand-in-hand with simplicity of construction. It is not cost effective to lay out the curves instead of a straight line, or to curve the reinforcing steel for the foundation and every so often horizontally within the walls.

    In Nicaragua, as in most places of the world, people add their own quirky things to their little apartments to express their individuality and more often than not to taylor them to their needs. Given essentially the same general layout as yours, but with simple and cost efficient straight walls, a neighborhood grid will evolve all on its own.

  4. CARLOS MY FRIEND,

    TOUCHED A FEW BUTTONS WITH YOU.

    MOST OF THE ISSUES YOU RAISE I AGREE WITH YOU ON, BUT WHAT CLASSIFIES AS HOUSING FOR THE POOR I TAKE ISSUE WITH.

    IF YOU LOOK AT AFRICAN HOUSING, THE SIMPLEST OF FORM WAS A ROUND CIRCLE WITH A POINTED CONICAL ROOF.

    THEY DID THIS OVER CENTURIES OF TIME. I DISAGREE THAT CURVES ARE NOT COST EFFECTIVE. AS I STATED IT IS COOKIE CUTTER BUILDING THAT GETS VERY FAMILIAR WITH REPETITION AND THAT EQUALS CHEAP. THERE IS THE ELEMENT OF RESPECT FOR WHERE ONE LIVES AND BEING ARTY CAN CREATE RESPECT. THE PROBLEM BEING, THAT AN INTELLECTUAL OR ART ORIENTED POOR WOULD BE THE CLIENT. WHICH I CAN RELATE TO. AND THAT SEGMENT IS GROWING. BUT THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE STRUGGLING ARTIST THAT IS POOR. NORMAL PEOPLE THEN CATCH ON THAT IT IS COOL AND THEN PUT VALUE IN ARTY SMALL SPACES.

    FURNITURE CAN FLOAT IN A SPACE IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE RIGHT UP AGAINST THE WALL.
    THIS WE NEED TO SIT DOWN WITH PAPER AND PEN AND DISCUSS IN PERSON.

    YOU TOTALLY BY PASS MASS PRODUCED HOUSING USING THE TECHNOLOGY OF OUR ERA THAT COULD BE BETTER AND CHEAPER THAN ANY OF THE NORMAL LOW COST HOUSING OF OUR ERA.
    BUCKY DEALT WITH THIS, BUT IT STILL HAS NOT HAPPENED.

    RELAX CARLOS, YOU SUFFER FROM BEING TALENTED AND IN A SUEEZE PLAY OF REALITY.

    WHAT ARE YOU REFERRING TO THAT I DID NOT RESPOND TO ?

    LOOK FOWARD TO SEEING YOU,

    GLEN

    • Glen,

      I posted a comment on Serving the Rich part 1 and on Fast Track Furniture. I assumed you’d respond quickly so that’s why I asked the question.

      African housing is not necessarily affordable housing. It’s all a matter of context. A round african hut of the type you refer to could belong to the wealthiest man in the tribe so no comparison there.

      Sure, furniture can float, if you have the space to do it in. In our reality that doesn’t happen. We can’t afford spaces large enough for this luxury. By definition, in affordable housing there are limited funds.

      Of course curves are more expensive. Materials that are curved are more expensive to build, store, and transport. Site-built curves are much more labor intensive and often produce more waste. The whole process has to be much more carefully thought out and of course that is labor and cost as well.

      Mass production of housing, or anything in general, is of course appealing. I don’t mention it because this particular post is not specifically about modular housing. When you post about it I’m sure I can find the time to give my two centavos about the issue.

      I look forward to seeing you as well.

      Carlos

      • CARLOS,

        WE ARE A PRODUCT OF NATURE, AND NATURE DOES A VERY AFFORDABLE LOW COST HOUSING SYSTEM WITH CURVES.

        I DO NOT BUY YOUR ROUND HOUSE AFRICA STUFF, YOU CAN LOOK AT NATIVE AMERICANS AS WELL.

        LIGHTEN UP, I AM SURE IF I GAVE YOU THE TASK OF ONLY USING CURVES FOR LOW COST HOUSING YOU WOULD COME UP WITH A LOT OF CREATIVE SOLUTIONS.

        WHY DO CURVES GET A BUM RAP WHEN THEY ARE VERY EFFICIENT? IT MUST BE THE MANUFACTURES IN CONSPIRACY. AT THE TURN OF LAST CENTURY THERE WAS AN ADVENTURESOME SPIRIT THAT ADAPTED MANUFACTURING PROCESSES TO MEET THE DESIGN. I SEE HINTS OF THAT NOW.

        SEE YOU,

        GLEN

        • We are not a product of nature, we are nature.

          Affordable housing, in the way that I and fellow architects are involved in on a daily basis, is simply housing that is medium to high density, that is financed by governmental entities looking to fill a social need and by capitalists looking towards it as a safe place to park their money. There is a developer entity involved which sometimes is non-profit and sometimes is for-profit. There are rules about the housing that we must all follow. There is a limited budget that requires the maximum return for the least investment, that is, to provide housing for the greatest number of people possible within the budget. There are other constraints as well. Limited land, usually infill lots that are often difficult to build on. There is the return on investment (ROI) required by the non-governmental investors (banks and other investors). There are constraints placed on housing by the codes, which often are more stringent on government-financed housing than on private housing. Finally, there are the constraints imposed by the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) types who do not want affordable housing in their neighborhood and seek to impose requirements imposed above and beyond planning, zoning, and building codes. This is more or less the norm across the entire U.S. and with small variations the way this business functions across the world.

          Why must there be an entity always looking for the maximum ROI?

          In nature, since you brought it up, the ROI is the governing factor. When you look at nature’s high-density housing, say a beehive, there is not an ounce of wasted material. It is a supreme example of economic and structural efficiency. Not orthogonal design, that’s for sure, but if orthogonal were beneficial to the bees I guarantee that’s what it would be. It’s not about the beauty of the hexagon that captivates the bees and keeps them building in that fashion. They could care less, it’s all about efficiency that suits their needs. Bees don’t have furniture or cabinets to move up against walls.

          In the work that I do I use the materials available to me to create the most efficient unit with the available resources. Efficient means, a response to the concerns of all the entities involved. The main entity of course is the user. The user sleeps on a bed, not on a bean bag. The rooms are small, no space to allow the furniture to float. The rooms must be shown furnished and with sufficient room to maneuver a wheelchair to both sides of the bed. The materials such as studs, plywood, gypsum board are most efficient when in their natural state.

          How about if I assign a task to you. Given the limitations I encounter on a typical project (reality), can you design an efficient building using curved unit walls?

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