Crate House    1990

collection Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum - Hagen, Germany 1990
originally commissioned by University of Massachusettes Gallery
  • photo Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum
  • Photos University of Massachusettes Gallery

Crate House compresses an entire house in an eight-feet cube and four crates. This house examines our present lives as if historical.  Each crate is like a diorama in an anthological museum. Each function is isolated and studied: kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom. When one function is needed that crate is rolled inside the core. At night the entire house becomes a bedroom and when the occupant is hungry the entire house becomes a kitchen.

The basic activities are pared down to essential artifacts needed and desired. The pillow. The spoon. The flashlight. The pot. The salt. Isolated they are sculpture, their use becomes theater.

This is the statement I wrote regarding Crate House for the the University of Massachusetts who originally commissioned myself and two other architects to make rooms  for an  exhibition entitled “Home Rooms”:
1. Architects insulate us from the cold, air condition the heat, give us lots of ceiling height, comfortable stair tread and riser ratios, thick carpeting, and automatic coffee makers programmed to prepare coffee during the night.
2. I am more interested in discomfort.
3. Each of four rooms is stored in a crate whose profile is the size of a standard door opening.  Bedroom. Kitchen. Living room. Bathroom. These rooms roll through door openings in each of the four walls of a 7’6” cube.  When an activity is required, its respective crate is rolled into the interior of the cube.
4. The Knife. The Spoon. The Pot. The Flashlight. The Screw. The Salt.  These things I isolated; turning them into sculpture; their use into theater.
5. We lost sight of everyday things.
6. We lost touch.
7. I read Thoreau’s Walden, and visited the reconstruction of the cabin that Thoreau lived in at Walden Pond.  I love his description of the smell of the freshly planed  pine door jamb. 
8. I want to turn living into dance.
9. I would like to follow a person around for a day with a film camera and white out (remove photographically) all of the architecture so that we would only see the movements of the body.
10. Each crate (bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom) viewed as if a diorama in the Museum of Natural History.
11. I look at now - historically.
12. When I first graduated from school of architecture, I proposed using NASA space equipment  to investigate and probe New  York City.  NASA (National Space Administration) became NYSA (New York Space Administration).
13. Like all artists and scientists I try to make people think twice, to restate, to stand back, as well as to look closely.