Back in 2012, I knew something was afoot when MOMA ran an exhibit called Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. The Buell Hypothesis, at its most basic, is as follows:
Change the dream and you change the city. The single family
house, and the city or suburb in which it is
situated, share a common destiny. Hence, change the narratives
guiding suburban housing and the priorities they
imply, including spatial arrangements, ownership patterns,
the balance between public and private interests, and the
mixtures of activities and services that any town or city
entails, and you begin the process of redirecting suburban
sprawl. The Buell Hypothesis http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/foreclosed/
The crux of the exhibit was focused on the rash of foreclosures that were then hitting the US due to the slipping value of the dollar. The study also tied into the failure of public housing. The exhibit was really about a massive plan to push the notion of communal housing to the poor and the middle class. As an addendum the new housing proposed in this study was also green living. As in safe for the environment.
But really the base of the new, proposed housing plans were really the old Soviet practice of Department Housing. As in the Buell Hypothesis was trying to revision this communist arrangement as hip, happening and American when really it was about pushing the non-rich into a series of rabbit hutches with shared kitchens, lavatories and shower rooms.
Most Russians like to eat in their kitchens, but those who live in communal housing cannot, so they have to eat in their rooms.
One of the few pleasures of this arrangement was that the inhabitants never felt alone. But they also never had privacy. It also turned living into a vast, nightmarish minefield culture of navigating shared living spaces. Everyone hoarded their own food in their own small, private living spaces. There was always a fight for washing facilities and communal telephones. The public spaces were messy and ill kept because no one wanted to be the janitor for the masses inside the communal apartments. There was no sense of pride of ownership so the halls and lobbies of these buildings were filled with graffiti on the walls and vagrants/drunks using them as impromptu bathroom facilities. There was continual problems of petty theft and sometimes assault.
Even though these living conditions were not the best. They were still much desired because they existed in prime city locations. Hence there was a lot of shady finagling with government officials to receive more space. Or some families surreptitiously moved in extra family members without any authorization at all.
Imagine for a moment that the houses lining its byways are described as what they are: housing. In other words, though they may afford their inhabitants a sense of belonging, even a sense of what you call “home,” they are, like the streets on which we drive, ultimately part of the infrastructure of the city or suburb. This does not mean that the houses are publicly owned, though they could be, since in any case many of them are now actually owned by publicly supported financial institutions. It means that, like other infrastructures (including roads, rail lines, and fiber optic cables, but also hospitals, schools, and parks), they belong to the public realm, regardless of who actually owns them.The Buell Hypothesis
The only element that the re-envisioned Buell Hypothesis New Urbanism/Soviet Kommunalka lacked was a forum. An area to be put into action. Since the middle class would refuse such an arrangement, the elite planners would need a way to force it.
The plan, tabled at a council meeting on Monday, suggests building apartments as small as 200 square feet with bathrooms and kitchens shared between neighbors.
Other options include co-housing communities that share kitchens and dining areas, and special exemptions for property developers who set aside at least 25 per cent of new-builds for low income families.
By MIA DE GRAAF FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
WHY? Since it is quite well known that the Soviet Kommunalka was an extreme failure, why do the elites and their government lackeys want to push it on us? All under the guise of green living, cheaper living and less congestion.
Yeah, less congestion for the mega mansions of the corrupted rich.
This is a mere band aid, a Potemkin Village solution to the problem facing Palo Alto, San Francisco and other big cities. Instead of taking action to address what is causing inequality such as using Illegal Alien labor, importing Foreign Workers, no Tariffs on foreign goods, lack of taxation on companies (all of these are sane limits for the problem of the supremely wealthy consuming of goods and living space) the powers that be would rather LIMIT OUR LIVING STANDARDS.
Yes, this is a massive move to limit our rights to property and the pursuit of happiness. All to enable massive greed among the rich. Note in the article no one in is calling for the super wealthy to give up their massive estates to move into the New IMPROVED Soviet Kommunalka, oh excuse, Palo Alto Kommunalka.
They will come with flowers and good cheer, fooling the naive "liberals" into thinking they are doing good.
Meanwhile they will be pushed into prettified tenements with no privacy and no comfort. Yes, pushed into obscurity to founder on the shores of FREE TRADE.
Hence, change the dream and you change the city. Architecture offers a highly effective medium through which to contemplate possible futures in this regard. There are many ways that we can imagine housing differently, from the way it is financed, to the way it is designed, to the way it is combined with or separated from other spaces in which other activities occur. Many of these possibilities imply systemic change at the urban, regional, national, or international levels. But that is for later.
The Buell Hypothesis
Possible new living plans for you, my Palo Alto Comrades!
Meanwhile. what will happen to all your former wasteful houses Comrades?
Comrade, Mark Zuckerberg and others of his class will kindly buy them all to create ever larger luxury estates. Believe me, his one family massive home will be totally green. Why? Because you are forced into a Kommunalka Comrade. Your access to resources will be strictly limited and monitored. All to allow Zuckerberg and pals to live large.
He thanks you for your kindness and green living Comrades!