Darden designed Oxygen House for Burnden Abraham, an imaginary disabled signalman working for the Southern Pacific railroad in the make-believe town of Frenchman’s Bend, Mississippi. In the story, Abraham is injured in the derailment of a train and confined to an oxygen tent. He dies right after the foundations for the house are set (located on the spot where the accident occurred). The character is inspired by a passage of William Faulkner’s 1930 novel As I Lay Dying devoted to the death of a character named Addie Burnden. The allegorical nature of the drawing reveals Darden’s exploration of the narrative potential of architecture by weaving together heterogeneous elements like an intricate puzzle; it is also influenced by his own experience coping with terminal illness.
Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014.