Mutuo’s ‘fragmented’ house prototype challenges systemic barriers and assumptions in US housing construction | New

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Photo credit: Ironside Photography


Los Angeles studio Mutuo has designed a prototype housing for the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas that challenges the current housing system. The outdoor exhibit sees five companies, including Mutuo, building responsive prototypes that explore the history of habitation and its connection to the natural world.

Mutuo’s contribution, titled Find flexibility within systemsmanifests itself as a “fragmented structure” that seeks to raise questions about housing equity, inclusiveness and resource availability.




Photo credit: Ironside Photography

Photo credit: Ironside Photography

Visitors approach the pavilion through a rigid grid of incomplete concrete and steel columns, representing the “stumbling blocks” to home ownership for many in the United States. The incomplete nature of the columns sets the tone for the larger pavilion, which itself features partially missing roofs, walls and floors.


Photo credit: Ironside Photography

Photo credit: Ironside Photography

“Design is only part of a complex housing process that includes land acquisition, financing, permits and construction, a process that is not navigable for most Americans,” explains the director of Mutuo, Jose Herrasti. “By creating an intentionally incomplete prototype, we wonder what is missing? Who is in and who is out? How should the current system be redesigned to be inclusive? »


Image credit: Mutuo

Image credit: Mutuo

The pavilion is also divided into four parts, representing a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living room, constructed from standardized building materials, including structural insulated panels, steel columns and beams, poured concrete on site and paint. The palette was chosen to demonstrate how common industry materials can be used to create ‘extraordinary design variations’.


Image credit: Mutuo

Image credit: Mutuo

Standardized materials are contrasted by wood and clay columns handcrafted by artists in Michoacan, Mexico. Two of the columns, carved from wood in the Mexican city of Cuanajo, fuse techniques from indigenous and colonizing civilizations, while a central pottery column is constructed from stacked and hand-molded elements of Cocucho. According to the designers, the columns were included to “symbolically reject the idea that the housing system should be a set of rigid rules and can celebrate the diversity, flexibility and resilience of immigrant communities”.


Photo credit: Ironside Photography

Photo credit: Ironside Photography

The physical pavilion is complemented by an online Stories About Housing platform, also created by Mutuo, which collects personal stories from in-person and virtual visitors.


Photo credit: Ironside Photography

Photo credit: Ironside Photography









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