The developer’s catalog of model homes is the most pervasive author of the suburban landscape. As a series of drawings, images, planometric analyses, and financial data sets, it typically describes each model through an architectural style coupled with a generic floor plan. Through these mechanisms, the domestic interior is often deployed to produce specific forms of life and patterns of consumption, functioning as ideological instruments that construct and enable certain forms of life, ownership, and property. MODEL-HOMES proposes an alternative developer catalog for the suburb, describing new typologies of domestic space that have the potential to re-script the familiar forms of everyday life. Each type simplifies the diagram of the home into the most basic conditions of daily life: eating, sleeping, bathing, working, and relaxing. This reduction of the home into a series of generic rooms—indifferent to content and ambivalent to the familial logics and labors of daily life—opens up the possibility for a radically new set of spatial relationships and collective associations.
By replicating the combinatorial games of the catalog, the project seeks to restructure domestic space by reducing the home to its barest spatial grammar, devoid of ready-made content, image, and identity. Characterized by typological excess and topological diversity, these unfamiliar re-arrangements of rooms produce homes that accommodate more varied social forms, kinship structures, and attitudes of occupation. When these types are aggregated and deployed as an urban plan, the protocols of settlement shift: challenging property lines, aggregating lots, consolidating domestic infrastructures, and creating new commons. While seemingly reproducing the pathologies of the suburban catalog, the limitless combinatorial possibilities create domestic spaces devoid of ready-made content, image, and identity: a new collection of homes without quality. Operating as spatial proxies for life and labor, each model home offers an alternative ethos through which to restructure production, reproduction, and cohabitation.
138 MODEL HOMES is part of the the ‘Architectures by Proxy’ exhibition of the 2017-2018 Willard A. Oberdick Fellow at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, Brittany Utting.
Project Leads: Brittany Utting, Daniel Jacobs
Design Team: Brian Baksa, Madison Strakele, Michael Paul
Photography: Yojairo Lomeli