François Dallegret

A Home Is Not a House, 1965

It was for Reyner Banham’s article, entitled “A Home Is Not a House,” that François Dallegret produced six “architectural” drawings”, using India ink on translucent film, accompanied by texts. In this article published in April 1965 in the magazine, Art in America, Reyner Banham, the architecture critic and theoretician of megastructures and Pop Art, took aim at the American house. His main criticism of Americans was that they think of their dwelling as a “hollow shell”, which does not efficiently protect them from the heat and the cold, thereby causing them to “pump more heat, light and energy into their homes than people of other countries do.” He suggests that the solution is to develop “environmental machinery.” In Anatomy of a Dwelling, Dallegret paints the portrait of this American drift where the house is reduced to an immense network of tubes and cables, and a giant plumbing system stretching between the sky (with a TV aerial) and the earth (a septic tank). The text described it as a “baroque ensemble of domestic gadgets,” which could take over the home if these “mechanical services continued to accumulate.” In the drawing Un-house, Transportable standard-of-living package, Dallegret proposes a counter-project of transportable equipment that could be kept in an inflatable bubble, designed to be more respectful to the environment (including, for example, solar cells). Shown naked and seated on the ground around equipment that looks like a robot-totem, Banham and Dallegret seem to be advocating architecture for the dwelling that is both hippie and ultra-technological. Here, the dwelling is linked to the environmental dimension of space that Reyner Banham was advocating to make architecture “disappear within environmental technology” (The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment, 1969). Banham’s theories continue to inspire many contemporary architects and their research on the interaction between architecture and its environment through digital technology.

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