ALCOVA

Because of Houston’s tactics of territorial annexation and leap frogging developments, the outer loop is a patchwork of linear gaps and interstices, empty spaces between places, excluded as other and outer. These spaces functions as buffer zones between suburban enclaves, belonging to neither and therefore maintained by no one; ownership both contested and blurred. We are proposing the archetype of the wall as a typological solution for these linear domains and a space in which to restructure the project of domestic inhabitation. Opposed to the autonomous unit of the home, the linear archetype is instead a simple bar with an open and negotiable interior, a counter to the tradition of room-making within domestic space. The inhabited wall becomes a cabinet for the body, containing in its poche the spaces for reproduction and thus freeing the space of the home for living and working. The necessary infrastructure for living–bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, storage–are embedded within niches in the wall in measured intervals, allowing the possibility of a shared domestic infrastructure to diminish the financial burden of the single-family home. By compressing all of the functions of living into the wall, the resultant spaces are allowed to be empty, freed from domestic infrastructure. Grounded in self-determination and negotiation, this generic space of labor and cohabitation explicitly counters the suburban agenda to separate living and working. Complete privacy can only be claimed within the wall, while the open space is by necessity a zone of contestation and resolution, a place of voluntary impermanence. In this opposition between intimate space and shared space, the project allows for the entire spectrum of dwelling and cohabitation. There is both the potential for total seclusion and the freedom to live collectively.

In collaboration with Daniel Jacobs.

Critic: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Yale School of Architecture, 2014