• Psychedelic Suburbs

    Anh PHAM, "Psychedelic Suburbs." Model. Photo: Brandon BIEDERMAN.
    chicago ILLINOIS

    University of Illinois at Chicago
    Critic: Paul ANDERSEN.

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Anh PHAM: What if difference could be created by enhancing strict guidelines? Suburban psychology functions on the ability for its dwellers to fit in with the status quo while still maintaining an illusion of uniqueness through micro differences in detail.

    This sense of community is important because it not only reinforces property value in a given area but allows one to align himself with a broader group identity. This group culture is then identified with and reinforced.

    Suburban community developers market a high level of uniqueness in one’s home by offering many different options for customizing it, such as variety of styles, house size, and color palette. However, what also comes along with these mundane options is an exhaustive list of guidelines that limit variability. The result is a collection of conventional homes that bare a remarkable similarity to one another despite the promise of individuality. The variables in this design book are allowed to function independently of one another to give the illusion of freedom, but the restrictions imposed on them ensure sameness.

    What if suburban design linked different variables together, so that they are interdependent of one another? House and lot shape are interdependent on one another, nestling and pushing the yard up to the edge of his neighbor’s house. Because of this closeness, a different facade glazing of one home could drastically change the interior spaces of his neighbor; closeness no longer means loss of privacy. The shapes of houses and lots bare new use for interior space as well as landscape.

    If developers offered an illusion of freedom with a hidden network of control, a new type of suburb could offer an illusion of sameness that caters to the suburban psyche, yet has drastic differences not seen in a typical suburb.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    This project was developed after rigorous study of the design book used for the Stapleton North Community in Denver, Colorado. It was developed in response to the current way suburban communities are being developed; it attempts to find an alternative mode of design and explores new possibilities for the suburban realm.

    Formal influences: graphic logo design, Edward Scissorhands, and Paul Andersen.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    AP: Reading: Jeffrey Kipnis, “The Cunning of Cosmetics.” Listening to: Wilco; Sam Smith; and Arctic Monkeys. Watching: Seinfeld and various zombie movies

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    AP: CentralStandardOffice (Kelly Bair); Indie Architecture (Paul Andersen); Weathers (Sean Lally); Paul Preissner; Mike Kelly; and Thom Mayne.

    Additional credits and links:

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