In response to an installation project mounted by young artist and designer Tadeáš Podracký, we invited a group of ten graphic designers and illustrators to take part in a visual research programme focused on experimental architectural projects of the second half of the 20th century. While Tadeáš Podracký comes with his own vision of a fictive space in which he studies mutual relations between the human individual and the space as such, the supplementary show embarks on a journey into the recent past, rediscovering ten crucial architectural experiments which offered in their time solutions alternative to the traditional concept of and approach to the phenomenon of space and the various ways it can be treated by its users.
The second half of the twentieth century ushered into the process of constituting a modern-age residential space and the development of humans´ attitudes towards it, new and unexpected opportunities for experimenting. The concepts of a housing module, or a symbolic home of the future, formulated in parallel studies by several leading figures in various parts of the world, turned into catalysts of experimental design and architecture, pointing to new possibilities of structural construction, materials, and above all, spacial relations, involving visions of near-future perspectives for patterns of human residence. Even though most of these visions have eventually proved to be utopian, the exhibition Habitus will bring into relief several more or less well-known experimental projects dating from the golden age of architectural modernism, in the light of parallel interpretations by several present-day Czech illustrators and graphic designers.
Here, present-time graphic artists offer their own first-hand response to specific projects by modernist architects and designers dating from between 1935 and 1975, coming up with their own visual interpretations of experimental housing modules, socio-architectural visions, or unique interior design schemes. The exhibition features interpretations of famous projects, such as the House of the Future by the British architects Alison and Peter Smithson; the Futuro House by the Finnish architect Matti Suuronen; or the icon of the 1960s housing architecture, the project Habitat authored in 1967 by the Israeli architect Moshe Safdie. These works canonized by history are coupled here with various less well-known projects charting the limits of residential space, by the likes of Guy Rottier, Jean Maneval, Zvi Hecker, or Michael Jantzen. All the historical projects dealt with here are accompanied by present-day reflection, and bring to the attention of specialists and the general public alike an array of less well-known architectural works translated into the idiom of present-day graphic style.
Moshe Safdie, Residential complex Habitat 67, Canada, 1967
Interpretation: František Polák
The residential complex Habitat 67 was built in Montreal, Canada, as part of the EXPO 1967 World Exhibition. In his design the architect, Moshe Safdie, presented one of the first visions of a universal housing project using a cluster of elementary residential modules arranged in an unorthodox abstract pattern.
Guy Rottier, Maison de Vacances Volante, France, 1963 – 1964
Interpretation: Maria Makeeva
The work of the French architect, designer, artist, visionary and dreamer, Guy Rottier, remains little known to the larger part of the spcecialist community. A friend of members of the Nouveaux réalistes group of artists and the architect of the holiday home of the sculptor Arman in Vence, he is also the author of a number of utopian concepts of prefabricated residential modules styled for various purposes.
Jean Maneval, Bubble dwelling unit, France, 1956
Interpretation: Jan Kloss/Matěj Činčera
French architect Jean Maneval presented his residential concept at the Salon des Arts Ménagers in 1956. His aim was to devise an accessible, inexpensive prefabricated home made from synthetic plastic materials. His concept did not materialize until more than a decade later, in 1968, when his Bubble house came to be mass-produced by the company Batiplastique.
Zvi Hecker, Ramot Polin housing development, Israel, 1974
Interpretation: Michal Bačák
Architect Zvi Hecker, born in Poland, spent his entire career in Israel. Definitely figuring among his major projects, the Ramot Rolin housing development was designed on a commission from the Israeli government. Located four kilometres from Jerusalem, it consists of 720 home units built in the architect´s characteristic structural organic style featuring diamond-shaped housing modules. Today the original project is overlayed by later annexes built by the property´s renters.
Matti Suuronen, Futuro House dwelling unit, Finland, 1968
The now famous Futuro House was designed as a prefabricated dwelling module intended primarily for recreational use. Its architect, Matti
Suuronen, produced a concept focused mainly on the factors of simple assemblage, mobility, and modularity of the interior which offered widely diverse design variants. Around 100 modules were actually built, including some located on steep mountain slopes and others in the African savannah.
Alison and Peter Smithson, House of the Future, United Kingdom, 1956
Interpretation: Jan Horčík
Although the husband-and-wife architectural team of Alison and Peter Smithson earned a wider renown only somewhat later, for their designs in the style of brutalist architecture, their first breakthrough actually came with a mock exhibition display of the House of the Future at London´s Kensington Hall in 1956. Their design presented an imaginary interior of the future, styled as a site for the gradual transformation of the function and form of the human living space.
Mario Bellini, Karasutra mobile home, Italy, 1972
Interpretation: Kristína Ambrozová
In conjunction with the groundbreaking exhibition New Domestic Landscape, organized by New York´s Museum of Modern Art in 1972, several Italian architects and designers were invited to supply unorthodox installations and objects. One of these was Karasutra, an experimental mobile home designed by Mario Bellini, destined for communal relaxation in an interior resembling the experimental landscape dwelling designs of the time.
Michael Jantzen, M-House, USA, c. 1970
Interpretation: Lukáš Kijonka
The American visionary and utopian architect, Michael Jantzen, conceived his M-House as a radical abstract sculptural composition consisting of intertwined mobile steel and composite modules making possible flexible readjustments and variations of the house´s structural appearance as well as of its interior components, and the ensuing variation of its human occupants´ attitudes towards their constantly changing environment.
Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Refuge Tonneau dwelling module, France, 1938
Interpretation: Ex Lovers
Mountains were a perennial source of inspiration for the French architect and designer, Charlotte Perriand, throughout the course of her career. Appropriately, they also became the theme behind the experimental mountain retreat, Le Refuge Tonneau, which she designed
in 1938 in tandem with Pierre Jeanneret. The shelter, which they developed up to the stage of prototype, was assembled from prefabricated aluminium components, and was envisioned as a high-altitude mountain shelter resistant to extreme weather conditions.
Kenji Ekuan, Tortoise House, Japan, 1964
Interpretation: Martina Marešová
Japanese architecture has never ceased to draw on the mainstream of its historical development. Metabolism, an architectural movement of the 1960s and 70s, aimed at bringing architecture closer to science, with a view to defining its idioms through the use of mass-produced components made from newly developed materials. Apart from the dwelling structures designed by Kisho Kurokawa, Metabolism´s other protagonist was architect Kenji Ekuan whose projects include the concept of Tortoise House, composed of geometric shell-shaped modules.
Gallery City of Prague
08/11, 2013 – 22/12, 2013,
Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace, 4th floor
Karlova Street 189/2