This project by Ofra Lapid brings to light a grave issue that the United States is facing right now. As a country there was a boom in the post WWII era that lead to the creation much of our current infrastructure (most often bridges). The national debt remained fairly steady from about 1945 until the beginning of the oil crisis in 1973 (see graph). The Broken Houses project represents this phenomenon as these structures, like bridges, were created when economic times were prosperous and now that finances are tight the money is simply not there to maintain them.
As the author of the post, Kinde050, explains, “there needs to be a shift…to create a stronger sense of shared responsibility among property owners and decrease the amount of abandoned, decaying structures in the United States”
As Dean Fisher noted that people act as nomadic people but still expect buildings to be and look solid. It is a case of ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’. An interesting trend has arose out of the housing bubble burst and subsequent recession is that there is one group of people in the market who are profiting substantially: landlords. A recent article in the New York Times explains that traditional families that purchased large single family homes during the housing boom are struggling to pay their mortgages and are often simply ‘walking away’ especially when their home becomes worth less than the mortgage value. According to the private research firm Reis, Inc rents [on apartments] have risen 2.4% over the course of one year and vacancies have dropped 5.2%, the first time in over a decade.
This phenomenon has lead structures to resemble those in the Broken Houses project and the unfortunate tragedy of I-35w ; people just simply cannot afford permanent structures anymore. The question becomes how to adapt to this changing population? How can we redesign for a mobile population in a safe, economic, and efficient manner? After reading about Ofra Lapid’s project and various articles regarding housing it appears the ‘American Dream’ is transitioning to the ‘American Demise’. As Kinde050 states, “we need to share more responsibility among property owners…shift toward more temporary, resilient structures” this will allow us to adapt to the changing face of the American economy.
1). U.S National Debt Clock. 1940-present. http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/faq.html
2). Kinde050. Broken Houses. “Architecture in Transformation” Arch 3150. University of Minnesota. WordPress.com. 2012. Blog
3). Lapid, Ofra. Broken Houses. http://ofralapid.com/category/broken-houses. 29 June 2012
4). Rich, Motoko. “Rents Keep Rising, Even as Housing Prices Fall” New York Times. 24 February 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/business/homes-arent-selling-but-its-an-apartment-landlords-market.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Web