I’ve found myself in an ongoing thought experiment for the last few months, trying to imagine what it would look like if theoretically non-domestic architectural styles were used to build the houses, or cities, of the future.
There are some obvious examples – designing houses like football stadiums, Gothic cathedrals, military bunkers, or nuclear missile silos – or even like Taco Bells, for that matter, or air traffic control towers – but there are also some less obvious, and far more interesting, possibilities out there.
Dams, for instance.
Why not build your house like a gigantic gravity dam? It wouldn’t have to hold back water – so there’d be no flooding to worry about – and you’d have big windows on either side.
You’d span canyons and have an incredible roof deck.
In fact, when I first saw the image, below, posted on The Cool Hunter back in December, I nearly passed out.
[Image: A development in Songjiang, China, via The Cool Hunter].
Alas, it’s not a dam at all, but the inner wall of a quarry (I still like it).
In any case, instead of building habitable bridges, like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence –
[Images: The Ponte Vecchio in Florence].
– or the Old London Bridge –
– with the former example surely having been at least a subtle influence on the design of Constant’s New Babylon –
– you’d build habitable dams.
A whole suburb full of dam-houses, holding back no water. Great arcs of concrete towering over the landscape, full of kitchens. And there’s not a river in sight. Or dozens of micro-dams, only three or four stories tall, forming Oscar Niemeyerian monoliths arranged around a cul-de-sac.
Families barbecue dinner in the backyard, shaded from the late summer sun by volumetric geometries of well-rebar’d slabs – great dorsal fins of engineering, sticking up from the landscape on all sides.
You’d come home to this!
[Image: The Eder Dam on the Edersee, Germany].
Your own little love-nest, nestled between hills – or standing out in the middle of nowhere.
The bachelor pad of the future… is a diversionary dam.
But habitable dams aren’t even the main source of structural ideas that, I think, have been sadly neglected when it comes to designing houses; what really gets me going is thinking about how to use elevated highway ramps as a new form of single-family housing.
[Images: A truly awesome image of an elevated highway-house, architect unknown (if you know, please inform!); and some L.A. freeways, photographed by satellite].
But that will have to wait till another post…