Gallery: Architects Reimagine the American Suburb for MoMA’s ‘Foreclose...

The Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibit, “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream,” addresses our nation’s recent challenge of foreclosed homes in our downtrodden economy. The exhibition showcases five architectural teams' solutions to five site-specific neighborhoods across the country which have been greatly affected by foreclosure. Inhabitat was on hand for the press preview to examine the advantages of these proposed solutions which combine affordable housing, community, home ownership, and sustainability. The sites were chosen for their foreclosure rates and amount of publicly held land available, and they were redesigned with regards to The Buell Hypothesis, which seeks to transform the design of suburban America.

Architect Jeanne Gang and her team took on Cicero, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago that has a large immigrant population from Mexico. To replace the current single family houses that do not suit the needs of the residents, Gang designed a Recombinant House model, which allows flexibility for multigenerational families. The modular housing units would be owned by residents, but the overall land and shared amenities would be owned by a private trust, helping to make home ownership more affordable. The modular units would hook into the grid utilities and allow for privacy and shared spaces for the families. The neighborhood would also be largely based around a gridwork of community farms that would supply the residents of Cicero with fresh produce at little or no cost to them.

Nature-City by WORKac integrates various kinds of housing types into an all-inclusive, nature-centric neighborhood that combines city and country life for Keizer, Oregon. Sky gardens, urban farms, ecological infrastructure, and natural habitats join townhouses, apartment towers, and multi-family homes. Organic composting and methane gas retrieval would provide electricity, geothermic wells provide heating, natural marshes filter water, and gardens yield produce for the community.

In Orange, New Jersey, MOS Architects chose to put a focus on a pedestrian design that replaces certain public streets in three storey mixed use complexes that include commercial, residential, and office spaces. The strips of these buildings would encourage community bonding, promoting the physical and social space, coupled with affordable public housing. A Limited Equity Company would own the mixed-use buildings, taking on the tax burden for the residents.

Zago Architecture’s colorful Property with Properties reimagines Rialto, California into a community of modern slanted residences in a myriad of rainbow colors. The unique homes vary from the traditional suburban shapes and designs, creating new spatial relationships between the homes and the land. A mix of housing types are unified with brightly colored exoskeleton brise-soleil screens, which are situated around natural wildlife sites, encouraging plants and animals to thrive as well as the residents.

The last contender is a project called Simultaneous City by Visible Weather architects. Occupying Temple Terrace, Florida, the model redesigns the downtown center of the suburb and creates a futuristic looking hub for offices, government spaces, and different types of housing, all arranged around an invisible town hall. With the arrangement around this empty town square, cars are not needed in the town and community meetings are encouraged. A Real Estate Investment Trust would be developed to help offset the resident’s taxes, and it would hold some of the investors responsible for the tax.

Each proposal in “Foreclosed” actively seeks to address the issues that many dying towns in America face today, as industry leaves and bills go unpaid. While the ideas may seem too radical to implement, it’s this type of innovative thinking that will put American housing on a more sustainable and affordable path.

+ Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream + Museum of Modern Art


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