Friday, November 05, 2010

Five House Thoughts

In the spirit of Bill Caraher's Friday Quick Hits, I will list five inspiring ideas that emerged last week from lectures and readings

1. Housing Refugees in Lancaster

The Ware Institute for Civic Engagement at Franklin & Marshall has become one of my favorite connectors. One of the Ware Institute's initiatives is to engage F&M students with refugees living in our community, many placed in housing next to our college. This week's Common Hour was organized by the volunteers who assist these refugees and it was very inspiring. I have decided to add a component of architectural analysis on the construction of transient dwelling by these community and engage students in my architectural history classes on first-hand investigations, interviews, analysis, etc. I have been brainstorming with Ware Institute dir. Susan Dicklitch on the right recipe for such a project or internship. Common Hour convinced me of the amazing potential of a refugee architectural angle. In my Spring seminar, Lancaster: Architecture of Faith, I hope to explore new cultural identities in Lancaster through places of worship. In other words, I hope to focus part of the seminar on the role of faith in contemporary transient communities like our Iraqi and Burmese refugees right on College Avenue. I've started to read up on the architecture of camps, see Charlie Hailey, Camps: A Guide to 21st-Century's Space (2009) and I've been following the horrendous refugee housing issues in Greece for a few years.

2. Housing College Women

The third installment of the lectures series that I organized at F&M was devoted to the architecture of women's colleges in Victorian England and the United States: Margaret Vickery "Buildings for Bluestockings: Architectural Design Strategies for Women's Colleges in the 19th Century." Women's colleges stressed a domestic architectural identity and tried hard not to resemble the monastic paradigms of male colleges. While men's colleges were designed around cloisters with free access to individual bachelors, women's colleges were heavily monitored by corridors. Vickery's lecture gave us an opportunity to think about contemporary notions of domesticity in our College House system. Those interested in these issues should read Vickery's The Architecture and Social Space of Women's Colleges in Late Victorian England (1999) and Smith College: The Campus Guide (2007).

3. Housing the Accumulation of Objects

Thanks to the New York Times Home and Garden section, I have discovered a new favorite photographer. Corine May Botz has been photographing the collection of stuff in people's homes. For her M.A. thesis, she photographed the houses of agoraphobics. Monacelli Press has just published another project devoted to Haunted Houses (2010). Botz's most current work explores The Secret Life of Objects and can be previewed in her blog. For the introduction to Botz's work, see Penelope Green, "Documenting Accumulation and Its Discontents," NYT (Nov. 3, 2010). I was thrilled to see reference to architectural historian Anthony Vidler, whose work on the Uncanny has heavily inspired my last paper "Fleshing Out the Byzantine House." My friend Michael Clapper, who works on houses and the ordinary art that people habitually collected (including Kincaid) will surely love Botz, too. Maybe we can invite her to speak at F&M.

4. Housing in Global Highrises

Domestic vistas--psychotic or voyeuristic--also come through global perspectives. Take a peak at the Highrise Project. Click here and see Katerina Cizek's "Out My Window," 360 degrees of vertical domesticities across the world.

5. Writers' Windows

Matteo Pericoli is well known for his long architectural drawings of Manhattan. Pericoli began a new series featuring views out of the windows of well known contemporary writers throughout the. Four installments have been published in the New York Times, views out of the apartments of Orhan Pamuk in Istanbul, Daniel Kehlman in Berlin, Andrea Levy in London, and Ryu Murakami in Tokyo.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States