Sandcastles come in all sizes and shapes, but rarely do they resemble a California subdivision. "Master Plan," a recent sand art installation by designer Chad Wright on a San Francisco beach, is more than a set of sandcastles. Using a plastic mold, Wright created dozens of identical little sand houses, lined up in perfect rows. As the tide rose, Wright's tidy little subdivision was inundated with water, and the houses crumbled, symbolizing the rise and fall of the American dream.
Chad Wright is a native of California, where one can find many sprawling subdivisions. “I was raised in Orange County—a sprawling suburb of Southern California built by disciples of Levittown. We lived in a tract house, a symbol of the American Dream, just like our neighbors,” explains Wright. Wright’s identical houses represent the ideal of postwar suburban America, and the sight of rows of identical houses is now common all across the country. The image recalls the words from the 1962 Malvina Reynolds song “Little Boxes“: “Little boxes on the hillside… and they’re all made out of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same.”
“In a series titled Master Plan, I am conflating a child’s sandcastle with architecture typifying postwar American suburbia,” says Wright. Using the tract house as a symbol for the American Dream, Wright created dozens of small house-shaped sandcastles on a San Francisco beach. Photographer Lynn Kloythanomsup‘s photos show the houses as they are wrecked by the rising tide, perhaps symbolizing the most recent real estate collapse.