Like most people I like to think that I’m open-minded, so I’m always a little surprised when I find myself caught short by my own conventional thinking. On a recent visit to COSMO, the 2015 winning Young Architects Program project by Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation, I noticed my concept of architecture had somehow reset itself to the limited default notion of “a structure that would be inhabited by me” when I wasn’t looking.
Luckily, COSMO—a grand mobile water-purifying station that can filter 3,000 gallons over four days, sitting high and proud on twin sets of monster-truck tires like a magnificent circus wagon in the MoMA PS1 courtyard—set my thinking straight.
It’s true, it cannot be inhabited by me, or you for that matter, but we are all very welcome to enter its domain, at least temporarily. And we can look forward to the benefits of its dedicated objective.
Andrés Jaque’s work makes it easy to leave rigid thinking behind, so when I came upon MoMA’s two recently acquired architectural images by Philipp Schaerer‘s Bildbauten series, my mind was loose and limber and ready for a chance to stretch.
As a young practitioner in Switzerland, Schaerer created digital architectural illustrations using technologies like computer-aided architectural design (CAAD) and computer generated imagery (CGI) for planned architectural projects. His work has since progressed to visualizations of fictional architecture of his own imagining, picking up where previous generations of visionary and conceptual architects left off.
While the images in the Bildbauten series look like full-frontal photographs of real but quite curious houses, the buildings depicted are fully made-up, digital montage compositions of fictional architecture.
The flattened lines of the houses are not unlike those that we first draw as children. The windows have a wonderful way of seeming to have just arrived home themselves, suggesting a secret relationship to the world outside and on close inspection making it almost possible to see inside. Not quite but almost, and that’s somehow enough. All the imagination needs is the slightest suggestion, something to guess at, because with houses like these we are happy to imagine the possibility.
The Bildbauten compositions are currently on view in exhibition Endless House: Intersections of Art and Architecture. COSMO can be found in the courtyard at MoMA PS1 now through September 7.