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Smithson, Alison Margaret

Birds-eye Axonometric of the final scheme for


House of the Future, Daily Mail Ideal Homes Exhibition.
London, England, between 1955 and March 6 1956.
DR1995:0037 CCA Collection
Centre Canadien dArchitecture
Canadian Centre for Architecture
Montral


Whatever happened to the future?

The Ideal Home Exhibition was founded by Lord Northcliffe the owner of the Daily
Mail, the British conservative middle-market tabloid in 1908 with the intention to
encourage discussions on the living conditions. By the 1950s, the exhibition was
basically a commercial show for companies to display their domestic products that
otherwise would not have reached the general public this was before advertisement
in superstores and commercial television. Under one big barrel-roof at the Londons
Olympia Exhibition Centre in West Kensington, one could get lost among replicas and
fake models of not only kitchens and bathrooms but also entire houses and gardens.

In the 1956 exhibition one of the houses stood out from all the other rather
conventional chalet-style fake houses. A white prismatic solid volume, with a stair
leading to viewing platforms in an upper level, contained a shiny plastic amorphous
interior space that contained in itself a quasi oval void, a patio or garden. It was a
house for the future, imagined for 1981; an answer to a simple question: what will our
houses be like in 25 years? The architects behind this intrepid suggestion were Alison
and Peter Smithson, today well-known for being the famous members of the
Independent Group, the Team X and exponents of the so-called New Brutalism. For
some a black stain in the career of the post-war masters, for others an unclear yet
exciting project, this house was a fundamental building in the future production of the
Smithsons. Nevertheless, what was the House of the Future really about?

As Peter Smithson himself said in an interview (Colomina, 2000, p.24), It wasnt


real. It was not a prototype. It was like the design for a masque, like theatre. It was in
fact a simulation. A full scale mock-up made out of plywood, painted to looked like
plastic, and implied non-existent curved glass panels, inhabited by glamorous
fashionably dressed performers. A fictional couple was living in the house like in an
endless holiday, pure leisure time. They were not working, they were not eating or
cooking; they were just having fun: all play and no (house)work. This house anticipated
and influenced not only the Smithsons themselves but also a whole generation, from
Cedric Price to Peter Cook and his Archigram fellows.

Certainly, this house was made to be consumed. It was transient. It was temporary.
However, it was not implying surrender to the consumer society, it was opening a
space for architecture to think about ideas. The Smithsons knew that these kind of
spaces could be unlocked and opened to experimentation in the specific context of
temporary exhibitions. From Renaissance to Modern pavilions, provisional structures
were built to celebrate, commemorate or envision exceptional times. As in the early
50s with the exhibitions and pavilions for Parallel between Life and Art, Patio and
Pavilion and This is Tomorrow, the Smithson would use these special moments to
develop concepts, images and answers to their own architectural anxieties.


Exhibitions were also used to push themselves further. As architects, how far can
we go? No matter how surreal it may sound, this was not science fiction. The pavilions
were always meant to be built. It was not the model for the future, but it was an
exploration into the future, a possibility that did not condemned future lives to a style
but opened opportunities for imagining new ways of living.

The house included the latest technological and electronic devices and materials,
nonetheless it was not about the technology and the material possibilities in itself. As
developed later in the Appliance House, the problem of new technologies,
appliances, furniture and new materials, was all incorporated into a single concept
that would transform the whole idea of dwelling, its architecture and its urban
condition. As an urban model, the house criticized the suburban sprawl by
incorporating the typical suburban private garden into the house itself and suggesting
that, when repeated like cells wall next to wall, these units could create urban clusters.
As an interior, almost a biological experience, the house was like a wrapping fabric:
protecting our bodies and liberating our senses.

Within the work of the architects itself, the House of the Future talks to the earlier
Patio and Pavilion. While the patio in the pavilion is extremely optimistic,
consumption-driven and playful, the pavilion in the patio is apocalyptic, disastrous and
dirty. Or maybe they are identical. Both are radical critiques of different presents and
visualizations of possible futures. Both address basic human desires and the whole
built environment at once.

Today, after 60 years of the exhibition, there is no future for architects, there is only
present. Under the pressure of the endless now and the surrender to the clients brief
and budget, architects lost their power to operate as visionaries, to be genuinely free
thinkers, to produce architecture in the broader sense without the need of a capitalist
client. The future still goes on, but under the hands of corporations, start-up and
global technology companies, Hollywood producers and online real estate portals.
These kind of documents remind us of the relevant role architects can play when
involved in the political struggle that shaping of our built environment represents. The
House of the Future was referred by its authors as H.O.F. In German, Hof means court,
a patio. But also, hoff means hope.

References
Colomina, B. (2000) Friends of the Future: A Conversation with Peter Smithson. Interview for October. Vol. 94,
The Independent Group, pp. 3-30. The MIT Press.
Van den Heuvel, D. and Risselada, M. (eds.) (2004) Alison and Peter Smithson from the House of the Future to a
house of today. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.
Victoria and Albert Museum: Archive of Art and Design. Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition: records, 1910-1990.
Reference number: AAD/1990/9


Curriculum Vitae

Personal Information Education


Name MA History and Critical Thinking
Federico Ortiz Architectural Association
London 2015
Date of birth
10/09/1987 Parametric Design
Postgraduate Program
Nationality University of Palermo
Argentinian Buenos Aires 2014

Address Architecture and Urbanism (hons)


3 Silver House 10 Shacklewell Road FAU UNLP Faculty of Architecture and
N16 7RL London Urbanism National University La Plata
United Kingdom La Plata 2005 2012

Contact Awards
+44 07548 167678 Bullrich Prize UTDT Buenos Aires 2015
ortizfederico@me.com Dr. Joaquin V. Gonzalez Distinction
www.issuu.com/federicoortiz6 for the highest GPA FAU UNLP 2013
www.ortiz-federico.wix.com/f-e-o Archivo General de la Nacin
Honourable Mention 2012
Skills New York Theatre City
Languages Archmedium Mention 2011
Spanish (mother language) 3X1 RANCHOS First Prize 2007
English (Advanced - ESOL Cambridge)
German (A2 - Volkshochschule Basel) Professional Experience
Estudio Bares
Software Junior Architect. 2013 - 2015.
Microsoft Office City Bell, Argentina.
Adobe Creative Suit www.estudiobares.com
Autodesk AutoCAD 3dMax Revit
Rhinoceros + Grasshopper Burckhardt + Partner AG
Intern. 2012 - 2013.
Social Basel, Switzerland.
Confident in team work www.burckhardtpartner.ch
Able to work with international teams
Confident in a complex and dynamic
environment


Teaching Experience Publications
Azpiazu Szelagowski Gonzalez Chair Interventions in public spaces
Subject: History. in heritage areas 9th Colloquium of
2014. FAU UNLP. Territorial Transformations of AUGM.
National University of Tucumn. 2012.
Bares Bares Casas Chair
Subject: Architecture (Design). Visible and invisible city. Integrated
2012 - 2013. FAU UNLP. city. 1st Symposium of Society, State
and University. National University of
Schaposnik Mainero Gutarra Chair Mar del Plata. 2011.
Subject: Communication.
2009 - 2012. FAU UNLP. Research through urban design
SuBA Workshop. FAU UNLP.2011.
Research Experience
Urban and Territorial Research Centre Collaborations
Project: Interventions in specials TURBA - Urban Workshops Buenos Ai-
landscape units. Urban parks res. 1 Jornadas de Arte y Comunidad:
Scholarship FAU UNLP 2012 La voz ciudadana. Facultad de
Derecho UBA. Buenos Aires 2014.
Urban and Territorial Research Centre
Project: Interventions in public spaces Espacios Revelados - Changing Places
in heritage areas La invencin del barco es la invencin
Scholarship FAU UNLP 2011 del naufragio Magdalena Arau,
Leopoldo Dameno, Javier Samaniego
Project Research Laboratory (LIP) Garcia. Buenos Aires 2014.
Project: Gap spaces under highways
Collaboration FAU UNLP 2010 Architecture and the city workshop
Short film project. Local council for
University Extension Experience integration. Javier Samaniego Garcia,
Visible and Invisible City. Integrated Marianela Constantino, Juan Orozco.
City. Blindness and Cities La Plata 2013.
Scholarship FAU UNLP 2011


References

Marina Lathouri Pablo Szelagowski


Architectural Association Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism
School of Architecture National University of La Plata

PhD Director of Studies Supervisor Professor of Architecture Taller 7


Director MA History and Critical Professor of History Taller 2
Thinking in Architecture Director of Project Research Lab

marina.lathouri@aaschool.ac.uk pablo.em.szelagowski@gmail.com

+44 (0)20 7887 4000 +54 221 4803453