“The House That Jack Built” imagines a stilted refuge house high above a fictional polluted lake. Designed by Olson Kundig Architects, the project was created by conceptual artist Jack Daws, who penned a narrative about building a cabin on Walden Pond only to have a freight train loaded with toxic chemicals plunge into its waters. The cabin rises high above the polluted waters on stilts, creating a fictitious solution to a potentially real environmental disaster.
Daws’ project called “The Pond” tells the story of Walden Pond, Massachusetts, where a quaint cabin on stilts inspired by Kundig’s iconic style, is built in the center of the pond with railroad ties and rails stolen from a nearby railroad. The pond is polluted when a local train dumps gallons of chemicals into the serene waters as it comes crashing out of control after hitting the part of the track used to build the cabin.
The installation and story was meant to create a narrative depicting the very real issues of potential environmental destruction, thievery, injury and dealing with the consequences of our actions. To further the drama and give it a touch of good-natured humor, Daws’ includes in his narrative an opportunity for Kundig to take a swing at the artist for appropriating his design! This is an unusual project for us, but an interesting one that highlights modern environmental, design and social issues.