Saturday, March 10, 2007

House: Case Study Cleveland, No. 2

Lets take a quick trip back in time...

In 2002, SPACES Gallery presented House: Case Study Cleveland, an exhibition and competition that reexamined the goals of the original Case Study House program in Southern California for a Midwestern, post-industrial city. The basic premise of the Case Study House program was to create superior, architect-designed housing for typical American families.

9 teams presented their designs for an exhibition and competition at SPACES Gallery, of which the winning design would be built on a city-owned lot in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood and put for sale on the open market.

PLY Architecture, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was the ultimate winner of the competition and Architecture Record wrote the following about their Case Study house and PLY's current body of work (August 2002):

“In the exhibition, we tried to show the flexibility of this house, so we laid out the furniture for four different families,” said Craig Borum, one of the four principals (left). “To try to make it accessible and understandable, we chose pretty well known families: We chose the Cosbys; we chose the Cunninghams from Happy Days; we chose Jack, Chrissy, and Janet from Three’s Company; and then we chose The Andy Griffith Show. So we had a single parent. We had three adults sharing a dwelling. We had a full nuclear family with a home office—the Cosbys. And then we had a kind of traditional family with Fonzie living over the garage, which is exactly where Fonzie would live in our house.”

The Cleveland Case Study House was designed as a series of premanufactured loft spaces that can be placed on top of a custom base. The upper floor can be used as bedrooms, home offices, or rental space. The ground floor is equally flexible. “The only thing that’s defined on the ground floor is the kitchen,” said Karl Daubmann, another one of the principals (top right). “Everything else is just a large room or a small room or a medium-size room.”

The construction for the First Prize entry was anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2004. Unless I have stumbled upon the wrong location, it seems the entry was never built (please drop a message if I am incorrect).

The Cleveland Case Study concept is as relevant now as it was in 2002. While a shame that the first house was never constructed, city land bank properties still exist in gentrifying urban neighborhoods such as Tremont, Ohio City, and Detroit-Shoreway. While the rebuilding continues in these neighborhoods, the City of Cleveland sees a steady stream of new housing construction which either recalls an outdated tradition, poorly functions, or simply isn't built well.

The Design Rag suggests that the exploration continues with Case Study Cleveland, No. 2.


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