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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Architecture of Accommodation

Architecture accommodates. That is nothing new. But accommodates what? In many cases it accommodates things, possessions, knick-knacks, objects, consumer goods...stuff. Coming across Arch Daily's coverage of the Kenig Residence in Brooklyn by Slade Architecture, I was surprised to see so much documentation of architecture accommodating stuff. In the majority of cases these days photographs of architecture projects are stripped of possessions, minus the strategically placed furniture, design book and artwork. This points to lifestyles of minimalism, but all to often that's not the case; the images are a ruse. It's refreshing here to see photos -- and architecture -- so rooted in daily life, even if it is for the daily life of the rich.

[Slade Architecture's Kenig Residence | image source]

The first photo illustrates a condition at the stair near the front door (off camera right). Hundreds, or even thousands, of print photos and cards are attached with magnets to the steel wall next to the stair. What might usually be gathered and composed in frames somewhere else (traditionally, on a mantle) is spread across a wall to make it into a composition in itself, as if the photos are components that make up the wall, like bricks.

[Slade Architecture's Kenig Residence | image source]

Across from this wall is a piece of art in its own right. I'm not sure of the artist, but the fact the sculpture is a grid of 96 heads, a collection if you will, speaks to the family's general views towards accumulation. It appears they accumulate stuff, but they and their architects structure its storage overtly yet carefully.

[Slade Architecture's Kenig Residence | image source]

Most of the photographic documentation of stuff shows clothes, folded behind sliding doors as above or sitting on shelves, as in this impressive shoe collection below.

[Slade Architecture's Kenig Residence | image source]

What the architects call the "shoe wall" actually sits in front of the translucent sliding doors that shield the clothes, creating a bedroom-size closet that's not a closet. Storage is out in the open, a display of the owner's predilection for collecting, in this case rare sneakers. Could this work for an occupant not able to afford such a thing, or without the desire to collect a lot of one thing? The shoe wall is like a typological study of something's evolution, harking back to collections of butterflies and other species in natural history museums. House as a museum is not an inaccuracy here, where everyday possessions are elevated in prominence via their display and the architecture that supports it.

[Slade Architecture's Kenig Residence | image source]


  1. I am honoured to officially invite you to participate "The Eleventh Banquet of Iran Architectural Blogs" with the topic of "Professional Ethics in Architecture and Urbanism", and will be grateful if you can send me your thoughts/comments/papers (about topic) as links until this month to this address:
    Hope to see you soon in the 11th symposium!
    With warm regards.
    Hesam Eshghi Sanati

  2. Great insights into the concept that this project incorporates the daily 'stuff' into the design.

    I posted a link to the post on my tumblr blog.

  3. The aesthetics of many ordered objects of the same kind. Reminds me of Allan McCollum's installations.


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