There is no more resonant product of 20th century America than that of the “starter home,” the symbolic and realized entry of a consumer into the housing market and broader economy; the ascendancy of ownership in the American mythology has, over the past 100 years or so, defined our understanding of what it means to be socially mobile, financially secure, civic-minded, and fully participatory in a particular national ideology. The future of the starter home is indistinct; an inchoate idea of imminent change, exacerbated by post-recession conditions, guides our discussions, but we are as yet unsure if we are amending the wages of sin, requiring a radical paradigm shift – a counter-myth – or repackaging a functional but stylistically outdated model for a new generation’s consumption.
Redefining the American Dream sans homeownership is one path forward; to productively engage the logic embedded in the evolution of the starter home, on the other hand, requires something more than morphological design tricks and altered rhetoric. The Starter Home* asks, Can we apply a functional ideal to a new model: one that operates beyond superficial associations and the strictures of expectations of constancy, and embraces the value in its own systematic functioning? It is a tactical architecture, one based in the market as much as it is in a progressive conceptual framing, that is required in order to address the typological stagnation we find in the contemporary starter home manifestation.
Research catalogues for this project can be obtained through the following links: