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thesis preparation | fall 2021
instructor: el hadi jazairy

disassembling construction(s) 
of obsolescence

In conjunction with a research essay proposal, I produced these collages to communicate the complexities of materials and house typologies of the 1960s and 1970s. These images collate diverse opinions. Representation of that era is sourced from mass media coverage, advertisements, manufacturer documents, designers, and consumer marketing.

From a cultural perspective, this period of housing is broadly deemed ‘obsolete’. Nonetheless, it represents a third of the housing stock in the United States, making it deeply problematic to dismiss the embodied energy that has already been committed to these structures. Synthetic and composite materials proliferated post WWII, further problematizing the perceived obsolescence of this period of housing. To architects, these homes (like most of suburbia) are not true architecture but rather developer projects, not warranting the attention of a designer. Beginning from this collective dismissal by society and design professionals, my thesis will explore the potential for reuse, deconstruction, and reimagining of post-war suburbia.

Plastic, plywood, and asbestos materials represent some of the most popular materials of the mid-20th century; all of them have known human health impacts. Furthermore they all have negative  implications for the environment.

The collages above details the most contemporarily reviled housing typology, split-levels. When first constructed they were an affordable alternative to single level home for growing families, today they are seen as dated and hard to sell.

© talia moretti