Didier Fiúza Faustino

One Square Meter House, 2002-2003

Sub-titled “personal habitat,” this project questions notions about the space inside a house and the speculative challenge posed by tight spaces in megacities where the strategy frequently involves building high-capacity buildings that require increasingly miniaturized spaces, like the Japanese pod hotels where the sleeping unit is stripped down to the strict minimum. This project takes up the same idea, but veers toward a “mini nightmare.” Porte d’Ivry, built in 2007on the scale of 1:1, commissioned as a public works project for the tramway running along the southern edge of Paris, One Square Meter House consists of a stack of standardized resin shells 17 meters in height. Is it a sort of replica of some Metabolist dwelling, or of the plastic housing towers designed by Archigram or Arthur Quarmby? The answer is no, because here Faustino totally subverts the idea of inhabitability and adaptability. In fact, his pods are neither detachable nor modular and the occupants can decide nothing about how they are organized to meet their needs. Here, the surface area of 1 m2 forces the occupant into an unlivable and permanently tight space. The available floor space does not even allow one to lie down. However it does leave enough room for a stairway one would have to endlessly climb and descend. According to Faustino, this dream house is supposed to “trouble the individual to the core.” Worse still, the model is accompanied by a video projection in which the building is “smashed to bits” with the inscription above the images being a slogan that only serves to emphasize the absurdity of the thing: “The ideal place to have a rest after a day spent managing public relations and nights out on the town. Your house, now available in a broad range of prices: floor space of one square meter with two to five floors, all for the price of one lot. Choose your standing. Incredible!” One Square Meter House also brings up the issue of the relative value of property in the field of architecture. Its verticality and its capacity to shelter only one person stand out in the urban landscape as a totemic homage to contemporary narcissism.

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