In his ongoing series titled Thin Places, Portland-based photographer Brendon Burton documents battered houses that stand alone in barren fields, amidst an encroaching marsh, or at the edge of the mountain. The decrepit structures have been Burton’s preferred subject matter since 2011 when he began seeking abandoned buildings across the continent that exude a sense of impermanence and the uncanny. “This series is for the sake of satisfying my curiosity about the past and exploring isolated parts of North America. It mixes archeology with fantasy,” he says.
Derived from Celtic culture, Thin Places refers to locales “where heaven and earth grow thin,” Burton says. “Traditionally, the term was meant as a place one would feel closer to God, or something otherworldly. In a more modern sense, it’s a form of liminality, areas that feel transitory.” Each property is shot with a drone, offering a detached view of the once-occupied spaces and a brief encounter with their former use. “What makes people leave, and what keeps things standing? How much of a life gets left along with it?” he asks.
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A steel slatted roof ripples across a property in southwestern Ontario, providing a meditative enclave under its gently sloping cover. Contrasting the stark black metal with softer strips of cedar, “Fold House” by Partisans features a two-story living quarter with a lengthy undulating structure that branches out from one side. It’s bisected by a staircase leading to an upper walkway and covers a luxe in-ground pool.
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When the once burgeoning coal industry in Ruhrgebiet, Germany, began to decline, many of the workers’ apartments were sold off. Oftentimes, new owners only purchased half of the building—miners maintained a lifelong right of residence to their quarters—creating a stark split between the left and right sides of the structure. Photographer Wolfgang Fröhling captures this visually striking divide in a series of images framing the renovated and original designs juxtaposed in a single structure. See the full collection of half-painted facades and disparate landscaping on Pixel Project, and find more of the Bottrop-based photographer’s work on his site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Last summer, The New York Times Magazine published a series of articles declaring that climate migration—a global exodus that’s predicted to displace between 50 and 300 million people worldwide—has begun. As more regions surrounding the equator become uninhabitable due to rising temperatures, crop losses, and disasters, entire populations will be forced to relocate to regions with more stable environments and economies. This impending movement coupled with an ongoing lack of affordable housing has sparked a wave of conversation about how best to remedy the looming crisis.
As a partial antidote, a Bologna-based studio, Mario Cucinella Architects, teamed up with the 3D-printing company WASP to design a low-carbon home that’s easily and quickly reproduced. Called “Tecla,” the prototype is a pair of sloping domes that can be built in only 200 hours using an average of six kilowatt-hours of energy. It’s made of 350 layers of coiled clay, which is sourced from a nearby river, that serves as thermal insulation for the earthen structure complete with a living area, kitchen, and sleeping quarters. Two skylights embedded in the roof of the 4.2-meter-tall domes allow light to enter the 60-square-meter space.
A short video from WASP documents the construction technique in Massa Lombarda, which involves two synchronized printing arms that glide back and forth to layer the walls. Producing almost no waste, the process is adaptable to other raw materials, making it a viable option for housing beyond the Italian region.
Find a larger collection of Mario Cucinella Architects’ and WASP’s climate-focused projects and looks into their processes on Instagram. You also might enjoy this 3D-printed home by Rael San Fratello. (via Dezeen)
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Along the beaches of Hormuz Island in the Persian Gulf lies a series of gumdrop-esque abodes. The multipurpose project, titled “Presence in Hormuz,” features earthen structures that dot the sandy landscape in a textured cluster of peaks and bulbs.
To build the candy-colored domes, ZAV Architects utilized the SuperAdobe process of renowned Iranian architect Nader Khalili, which involves stacking coils of wet earth, and trained local craftsman in the technique. “A carpet is woven with granular knots inspired by the particles that make up the ecotone of the island,” the Tehran-based firm says in a conversation with designboom, noting that the area’s topography inspired much of the architecture. “The sandbags that create the spatial particles (aka domes) are filled with the dredging sand of the Hormuz Dock as if the earth has swollen to produce space for accommodation.”
Most of the bulbous structures hold living accommodations with communal dining, laundry, and prayer areas woven throughout. The vibrant venues were designed as part of an initiative to remedy local economic struggles and bring together tourists and the community in a shared cultural space. ZAV expands on the intention of the project:
In a country where the state struggles with political disputes outside its borders, every architectural project becomes a proposal for internal governing alternatives, asking basic questions: What are the limits of architecture and how can it suggest a political alternative for communal life? How can it attain social agency?
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Shelters of People Experiencing Houselessness Are Photographed within Affluent Residences to Demonstrate Inequality
Whether opulent or minimalist in style, the houses that Jana Sophia Nolle photographs are displays of wealth. Plush rugs cover hardwood, hardback editions line built-in bookshelves, and tall windows reach from floor to ceiling. Even the stark rooms with few sculptures and seats signify a choice, rather than a necessity, and demonstrate the ability to furnish a room with just significant objects.
Within these residences, though, Nolle reconstructs a contrasting shelter to illuminate a growing disparity. In her series titled Living Rooms, which culminated in a book published by Kerber Verlag, the artist situates the shelters of those experiencing houselessness within the dwellings of affluent folks in San Francisco. (Houseless refers to lacking a specific kind of structure, while homeless does not.) The single-occupancy structures often are formed with rain-resistant tarps, cardboard boxes, shopping carts, and other small objects.
Nolle started the affective series as a way to raise awareness about disparity, gentrification, and income inequality by explicitly comparing differences in living spaces, wealth, and security. “Art cannot, unfortunately, solve problems or change society: at least one work on its own cannot. It does not provide solutions, but it can wake up people,” she says. Although the photographs shown here were shot throughout 2017 and 2018, income inequality has only worsened. Recent reports state that while the wealthiest Americans have seen significant gains during the last few months, people with lower incomes have not rebounded to even pre-pandemic levels. According to the Federal Reserve’s data collected through the end of March, the richest 1% of Americans own 31% of wealth.
Nolle’s project is also empathy-driven, serving as a reminder of our shared humanity. “While working on Living Room, I noticed that unhoused people said that they feel invisible to the housed residents of the city,” she writes. “For most Americans, homeless people are barely visible, somehow on the edge of our vision in most urban areas.” Her time working in San Francisco was both arduous and gratifying and inspired her to join the Coalition for Homelessness. She formed bonds with about 15 people, who she later witnessed being forcibly removed by officials. “This was one of the hardest parts of the project. It is about people. It is about individuals’ lives.”
Prior to the pandemic, Nolle planned to replicate the project in Paris and Berlin. Her time photographing the French city was cut short by the lockdown measures, sending her to Berlin, where she’s been building relationships with people who are experiencing houselessness and those who aren’t. “While housed people can ‘go home’ and close their doors and do everything possible to protect themselves, I met many unhoused individuals who described how their networks and support structures changed dramatically due to the pandemic,” she writes. People who are experiencing houselessness are increasingly worried about being infected with the virus and struggling more because they report receiving fewer monetary donations.
Nolle also tells Colossal that she’s noticed differences in the materials people across the globe use to build their homes. While the structures in San Francisco generally are covered, those in Berlin tend to be open on top and use more mattresses for bases. She attributes these differences to both weather conditions and to the varying rules and landscapes of the cities. In terms of photographing large, lavish residences, Nolle says that due to the pandemic, a lack of connections, and other reasons, she’s had more difficulty finding wealthy people willing to open their living rooms to her in Germany. “Sometimes I get the feeling they do have money and wealth in the background but they seem to have trouble admitting it. Being wealthy/privileged seems sometimes also linked to feelings of shame,” she says.
The San Francisco-based series is currently on view through October 24 at Torrance Art Museum in California, while those captured around Berlin will be part of a solo show at Haus am Kleistpark staring in March 2021. Until then, follow Nolle’s work on Instagram. (via It’s Nice That)
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