In conceptualizing my utopian house, I considered the connotation of the word “house” as opposed to “home”. I found that in my mind what a house lacks is the meaningful occupancy and environmental/interpersonal cohesion which I associate with a home, aspects which are defined by the way a space is occupied, and so in working on this project I aimed to create a home. My home would be a synthesis of the things which I believe are invaluable in an effective living space, and the things I value especially are ample room for creative practices, easy passage between personal and public space, and environmental facilitation of healthy relationships and cohabitation. I envision a space then designed for creative and communal equality, a space for artistically oriented individuals which fully enables the indulgence of spontaneous artistic impulses, the active exchange of creative thought, and the comfortable coexistence of creative individuals in both inspired and uninspired states. It would be requisite that the occupants of the space be queer, as I find that queerness, when shared as an experience amongst individuals, fosters mutual respect and understanding, two things I believe are essential in both communal and artistic spaces. My utopian home is made utopian by the equality it creates, and this equality is created as much by the space as it is by the way the occupants navigate it.
Questionnaire for applicants to my utopian art home (to be reviewed by all active occupants of home):
- Please elaborate on your previous experience, if any, with communal living.
- What are the artistic expectations you have for yourself as an artist living in the utopian art home?
- What will you bring to the utopian art home which will benefit your fellow artists/housemates?
- Please elaborate on your experience as a queer person (has no bearing on your being considered for acceptance to the utopian art home)
- On a spectrum from introvert to extrovert, where would you place yourself?
My utopian home takes the shape of two separate buildings, the first being an intimate communal living space for domestic movements and the other a multipurpose studio for artistic practice. The living space would be arranged so that all private rooms open into a central open-plan communal room which serves the function of a dining and leisure area but, like the shakers’ architectural designs, may easily modulate to accommodate any number of different activities including but not limited to dancing, games, and hosting guests. This space is shared equally by all individuals and no one person has greater domain than another over the communal area. Desire for control over the communal room is abated by the ease of access to each individual’s private room. The north and south faces of the home are walled with floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light. To the east and west are private rooms, each with their own large windows. The upstairs holds the bathroom and kitchen, accessed by a staircase on the west side of the house. The kitchen only fills half the length of the house on the north end, and where a wall would contain the space on the south, it instead stands partially open connecting the upstairs and downstairs of the home. This enables free communication between the floors of the home. The kitchen is configured so that working space lines the walls with plenty of room for many hands to work at once. By giving the occupants equal, easy access to both a large, interconnected communal space undivided by walls as well as their own private space which is only ever a few paces away, the individuals have comfortable choice over the way they engage. Central to the home is a brick fireplace from which the heat for the oven in the upstairs kitchen is generated. As the central source of warmth in the home is also integral to the making of food for the occupants of the home, much of the activity in the living space revolves around keeping the fireplace well-fueled and the oven maintained. In privacy, because of the nature of the design of the home, the occupants are still in a way connected with the rest of the house, as the going-abouts in the communal space would easily be heard from any other space in the home. This connectedness encourages conscientious and considerate occupancy. The studio is separate from the home but still readily accessible, only a short walk away from the home. Because the state of the artist is in constant flux, swaying between inspiration and un-inspiration, it is important that the studio and living space be separate. Creativity is not exclusive to the studio but is carried back and forth between the studio and home by each artist and exuded in both spaces, infecting not only the physical environment but the other occupants as well. This flow of creative activity is experienced equally by all occupants, by proximity as well as by the artistically-oriented interpersonal engagement facilitated by the space. The studio is a warehouse-esque building of hexagonal shape, walled almost entirely by glass to break the boundary between the protected work-space and the surrounding natural environment. The hexagonal shape is similar to the circle which is so favored in utopian models in the way that it is balanced and all sides are equal, a design which reflects the equality of my utopian house. The home is located on the side of an unnamed mountain in the Catskills, accessed by a well-maintained dirt road but far removed from society for seclusion.