"Xtreme Houses"
Through August 1st

We are all architects. We might not have studied architecture, or taken a degree in architectural engineering.

Nevertheless, we all need shelter; we arrange our environments to best suit our needs. But what is a "house"? And what is "home"?

The "Xtreme Houses" exhibit examines artitecture from numerous angles, but from a single starting point: what's out there, beyond the standard four walls and a roof?

The houses shown in this exhibition, are 'extreme' because they challenge traditional civil engineering and homogenized construction, present new ways of utilizing space, solve problems related to overcrowding, or adapt rudimentary tools to provide emergency shelter.

Many of the pieces selected for this exhibit originate from solutions found at the very edge of the society, where housing is arranged to meet extreme environmental situations with any materials which are readily available.

The exhibit also asks us to think about the natural evolution of housing in response to hyper-mobility, skyrocketing real estate costs, responses to natural catastrophes or war, mass migrations, and homelessness.

Many of the houses selected for the exhibit make use of either exclusively new design, such as the rotating sleeping/eating/working wheel "Turn On," or in discarded materials which can be repurposed to maximum effect with a little ingenuity; "Dome," for instance, is literally just that - a spacious dome constructed of triangular panels sliced from discarded cardboard.

What about hyper-mobility? With GPS able to pinpoint location precisely, is there any real reason to stay put at a single geophysical location?

Rather than take ourselves to our home, can we take our home with us, wherever we happen to be? Sure, says Valeska Peschke, in her contribution to the exhibit: "Inflatable House".

Another issue to think about: given a limited area of terra firma available for building, are there other solutions? Maybe. If we consider housing that can float on water, or reclaim square footage underground.

Environmental concerns are addressed by the use of DIY solar panels, in "Future Shack," by Sean Godsell Architects, and Michael Hönes' "Dosenhaus," a cottage created out of hundreds of soda cans.

Each of the houses included in the exhibit was created as an answer to an urgent need, or as a solution to a problem. The exhibitors consider economic viability, spatial efficiency, and the most intangible factor of all - creating a 'home'.

A mixture of designs, photographs, small-scale models and life-sized prototypes, the "Xtreme Houses" exhibit delivers some intriguing answers to the problem of habitat.

[Shown: "Turn On", (2000), Alles Wird Gut]

Find it: Lothringer Dreizehn (13)
Lothringer Strasse 13
Munich, Germany
Get there: S-Bahn: Rosenheimer Platz, Ostbahnhof
Get info: +49-89-448-69-61

Find more art exhibits worldwide in the July 2004 issue of "Arte Six".