Literary Dose #41

"Consumption and affluence have increased in many parts of the world, and although they seem to form a baseline of contemporary society, some counter-movements are also visible within consumer society. Not a wholesale refusal but some level of consumer savvy, such as re-use, purchasing sustainable, 'ethically produced' or local goods. Here, the market finds a way to respond. When viewed cynically, that indicates that there is no 'moral' component to the market, but that profit is the only concern. While this may be true, if the public enforces a conscience upon producers by choosing to purchase some goods over other (and price being one of numerous factors in that choice), the results are not necessarily bad. The TV-program Extreme Home Makeover encompasses a number of different features of this debate. On the one hand, it presumes the desirability of an identity expressed in architectural terms (although primarily on the surface more than in the space). Bedrooms are turned into drive-in movie theaters, incorporate pick-up truck beds, have music-themed wall decorations, grass-covered floors -- anything is possible, as long as it is based on a particular hobby or interest of the room's occupant. It also offers a 'quick', and sometimes superficial fix: although wrecking balls and sledgehammers are used extensively, the fundamental structure of the space is not typically transformed. The houses remain recognizable suburban family dwellings. It offers a spectacle: extensive demolition and construction crews are working against the clock with the design team, and the pressure builds as the deadline nears. And it offers the satisfaction of the family returning, who will forget the troubles in their life as they walk through their beautiful new home. We could say: this form of sugar-coated home makeover is no more than a temporary placebo for their problems. Or we could also say: if there is a role for architecture to play in the everyday life of suburban families, this offers a caricature of what architects could be doing -- making the home back into a castle."
- Lara Schrijver from Radical Games: Popping the Bubble of 1960s' Architecture (NAi Publishers, 2009, p. 20)


  1. It's a pretty harsh comment, anyways i see more in the desire to separate work from leisure, such as the place - home with its decorations help to reveal an identity of ourself


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