Soho is my best example yet of an architectural “enabling structure” that would be built with the operations of modern fiat money owned collectively by a National Housing Co-op and “built-out” with privately owned and financed autonomous dwelling projects. It was my entry in a national design competition for “The Residential Tower of the Future.”When I first read about the competition I decided to ignore it because I had spent so much time developing arguments (An Architect’s Concerto; The Horizontal Skyscraper) about why architecture should be developed horizontally rather than vertically.
SMRTram was my indoctrination to the problem of trying to build a collective good that, in itself, generates no revenues to pay for its costs, but which could potentially benefit a local community in substantial ways. The ten year odyssey began shortly after my wife and I moved to Annapolis, Maryland and opened our architectural practice on Main Street. By accident I stumbled upon what seemed a startling piece of information: Research showed that the average distance a pedestrian would walk after they parked their car in an urban setting was only 1000 feet. Just under a quarter of a mile. I began giving consideration to the many implications this “Pedestrian Access Distance” had for the kinds of urban habitats I’d been theorizing about, off and on, since I’d been in architecture school.
HOUSEEDs are one concept for an architectural “enabling structure.” Their purpose is to make it faster and easier to build creative, affordable dwellings. The background of the strategy, for me, goes back a long way: The summer before I started architecture school at North Carolina State University, fresh out of the Navy and full of optimism, I decided to build a small house-in-the-woods to live in while I attended school. I had saved, from the Navy, a $10,000 building budget. I figured it would be enough if I did the work myself.
This will be my next personal architectural experiment—the garden component of Matrix Architecture. Rain-harvesting, food-growing, and cooking as the pursuit of simple, everyday delight and contentment. As the project unfolds, I’ll be adding thoughts and images here.