Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum Presents “Solos: FutureShack”
In the second installment of the “Solos” exhibition series, Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum will present the architectural prototype “FutureShack” in the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden, May 14 through Oct. 10. Constructed from a recycled shipping container outfitted with a minimum of industrial materials, “FutureShack” suggests a possible solution to low-cost, mobile housing for returning refugees and displaced populations. Designed by Australian architect Sean Godsell, the prototype was built based on his entry to Architecture for Humanity’s competition to address the shelter needs of returning refugees and homeless persons around the world.
The exhibition marks the first time “FutureShack” will be on view outside of Australia, and also represents the first major architectural project by an Australian architect in New York City. The inherent mobile nature of “FutureShack,” which allows for the affordable and efficient shipment of multiple housing units to crisis sites, makes feasible the exhibition of the work in New York City.
The “Solos” series, which explores groundbreaking, innovative international and contemporary architecture and design works, spotlights “FutureShack” because it represents a departure from what we think of as ‘domestic architecture,’ says exhibition curator Floramae McCarron-Cates. “Architects are perhaps among the few that, by definition, are trained to address some of the most pressing housing issues people face today. Yet, only a handful of contemporary architects actually design domestic housing for the less affluent,” added McCarron-Cates.
Godsell commented, “As architects in stable democracies our responsibilities are reasonably clear cut. Our role in those societies where freedom has been ripped away by force, or where nature has devastated whole cities, or when generations of minority groups have been forced into a life of poverty because of a political philosophy, is hazy by comparison. The need ‘to house’, born out of adversity, offers for architects the opportunity to provide shelter for fellow human beings in need.”
Of the 200-plus designs, from over 30 countries, submitted to Architecture for Humanity’s international relief housing competition, Godsell’s “FutureShack” prototype was selected as one of the most practical and cost-effective entries. Constructed from one ready-made 22-foot long shipping container, which serves as the main volume of the building, “FutureShack” is maintained by solar power and is ready for occupancy within 24 hours. “FutureShack” is equipped with a minimum of industrial materials; the interior of the shipping unit is clad in plywood, and the kitchenette/bathroom has steel fittings. A parasol roof shields the structure from the sun. “FutureShack” is entirely self-contained -- the unit allows for storage of the roof and footings -- enabling multiple structures to be stacked and shipped to crisis sites.
Godsell’s “FutureShack” design provides shelter and privacy, as well as a sense of home in a setting that is usually associated with terror and insecurity. Unlike rudimentary housing units, such as army surplus tents supplied by the International Red Cross and the United Nations during times of crisis, “FutureShack” can serve as long-term shelter for internationally displaced populations, and victims of natural disasters.
“FutureShack,” in its efforts to provide basic, affordable and transient shelter, is a contemporary foil to other works on view at Cooper-Hewitt – many of which typify the Western concept and ideals of home, including:
• Shock of the Old: Christopher Dresser -- a major retrospective on the British industrial designer, on view through July 25.
• Design ≠ Art: Functional Objects from Donald Judd to Rachel Whiteread -- presents furniture and design works of minimalist and post-minimalist artists. On view Sept. 10, 2004 through Feb. 20, 2005.
• Josef and Anni Albers: Designs for Living -- explores the couple’s designs for the modern domestic interior. On view from Oct. 1, 2004 through Feb. 27, 2005.
About Architecture for Humanity:
Architecture for Humanity is a non-profit organization that promotes architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises. Cameron Sinclair established the organization in 1999 following the housing crisis in the Balkans resulting from the war in Kosovo.
About the “Solos” Series:
The “Solos” series was launched in 2003 to showcase innovations in the field of architecture and design, including designs new to the market or to construction, or new design in the research and development stage. Each installation explores a singular work or theme and examines its development, creative process and innovative qualities.
The inaugural exhibition in the “Solos” series, titled “SmartWrap,” featured a concept for a new building material that integrates the segregated functions of a conventional wall into one composite film that can be erected in a fraction of ordinary building time.
Sponsors: “Solos: FutureShack” is made possible in part by USM Modular Furniture and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
Public Programs: A number of public programs will be presented in conjunction with this exhibition. For a full description of programs, please contact the Education Department at 212.849.8380 or at email@example.com.
General Information: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions, and publications.
Location: The Museum is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 91st Street in New York City. Public transit routes include the Lexington Avenue 4, 5, and 6 subways (86th or 96th Street Stations) and Fifth and Madison Avenue buses.
Museum Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Admission: General admission, $10; senior citizens and students over age 12, $7. Cooper-Hewitt members and children under age 12 are admitted free. For further information, please call 212.849.8400 or visit www.cooperhewitt.org. The Museum is fully accessible.
# # #