THE UN-PRIVATE HOUSE
This project explores the nature of domestic space in the next millennium by examining the family structure, changing habits and Institution of marriage, children, older adults and single sex families; communication and information technologies, work, leisure, the public and private; and conception of body, health and hygiene.
We believe that the physical form of a typical home has to change reflecting not only apparent changes in the institution of marriage and family structures but also programmatic and spatial requirements due to the work-spaces moving into homes and shopping, schooling, entertainment and physical fitness all taking place at home.
Since most of our daily activities can take place at home because of the new digital technology, global telecommunication and networking, our proposal is a Digital House. This house is organized around a Touch Activated Digital Spine, liquid with global network of database.
The spine has a steel structure and a glass enclosure made of active matrix liquid crystal displays (AMLCDs). AMLCDs incorporate the use of microelectronics and amorphous materials technology to construct transparent thin film transistors on an active plate. A second plate or passive plate has a filter applied to its surface with microscopic translucent opening for each pixel in the display. A liquid crystal material is placed between the two plates of glass to modulate the light. With the addition of electronic circuitry and a backlight, the display produces full color, video capable images. These flat panel displays with high definition are now being used in military aircrafts as well as NASA's space shuttle fleet. If AMLCDs could be developed as transparent building blocks, or what we call "Digital Block", they could become the material of choice of architects and builders in the next millennium.
In this Digital House the architecture of the main spaces has been reduced to simple, efficient, and minimal habitable units, partially prefabricated and available off the shelf. They would plug into the steel structure of the spine similar to an industrial shelving unit. In contrast to the three prefabricated volumes for sleeping (bedrooms), working (office and School), and virtually stimulated common entertainment (living/dining, kitchen) plugged into the digital spine, are the Transient Spaces (circulation) for the inhabitants to unplug themselves momentarily, moving in-between tasks from the virtual to the actual world, contemplating on their physical fitness and spiritual well being.
Digital House is for a family of three independent beings free from preconceived notions of gender roles, domination and sexual preference. The architecture of this house allows the family members to interact virtually but live together actually, addressing the paradoxical American desire for a solitary existence and family interaction at the same time.
The site is a 2 acre suburban lot, slightly sloped towards an artificial lake. The actual landscaping around the house is a typical low maintenance lawn with trees marking the lot lines. The virtual landscaping however, can offer many possibilities through out the house.
All bedrooms are equipped with a Dream-Recording device, so one could review one's dreams on the liquid wall of the room at any time. The office/work spaces have liquid drafting walls instead of the individual computer monitors and children's work/class rooms are connected to the schools around the globe.
The kitchen/dining operates like a laboratory with a long working counter also plugged into the spine. One can prepare a meal with the help of a virtual chef from a favorite restaurant and have dinner with a virtual guest or friend through the liquid wall. The living room on the upper part is where the entertainment takes place (media room). Any movie or TV program is accessible globally and could be watched from a soft, organic, and comfortable sofa.
The main structure is a steel skeleton with lightweight steel frame units wrapped in titanium. All other materials are environmentally friendly, simple and light. The furniture is mainly curvilinear corresponding to the human body and is in contrast to the orthogonal geometry of the house. They are placed carefully but sparsely and act as pieces of sculpture in the house.
Finally, this house gives us the opportunity to meditate on the following poetic concepts:
In this house, the central walls are made from Liquid Crystal Displays, the building blocks of the future. These walls are capable not merely of separating and enclosing space within the house but of collapsing the very idea of time and space. Here meals can be prepared with the help of a virtual chef from a favorite restaurant and one can have dinner with friends who live thousands of miles away.
"If the house is an extension of the body or a transparency of the mind, what will the house of the next millennium look like? A house that both protects and transcends the limitations of the body. A house that is bound by time and space and yet beyond time and space. A house that reflects the changing configurations of family, work, play, communication, and virtual and actual realities.
A Digital House.
The corridors of the digital house are no longer "empty spaces", or a "waste of time", but an opportunity for heightened awareness. In the digital house, the comfort, safety, and stability of home can coexist with the risky possibilities of flight. In the 21st century, as more and more jobs are performed from home, the temporal and spatial constraints of work become less rigid, as the keyboard rather than the car or commuter train takes us where we need to go.
Connecting the main areas are the transient spaces, which allow the inhabitants to unplug themselves momentarily, (going up the spiral stair) as they move between tasks and from the virtual to the actual world. Here the eye takes in a layering of realities as one can look into other parts of the house, to the landscape beyond the house, or to the images on the walls.
"The house of the next millennium is more than a home, it is an embodiment of our dreams. Each bedroom is therefore equipped with a Dream-Recording Device, so that the flight of the dreaming mind can be traced, its images replayed and studied for evidence of who we are or what the future has in store for us." John Brehm