Boarded-up Houses by Katharina Fitz

In the words of the artist Katharina Fitz:

Boarded-up Houses In Europe today there are around 11 million empty and unoccupied homes, of which 610,000 are in England. Large scale vacancy in cities is often a sign of great upheaval within the urban space.

© Katharina Fitz

Focusing on typical Victorian working class terraced houses in post-industrial Liverpool and Manchester, the project highlights the sheer volume of long-term vacancies in the UK to create a critical reflection about the extensive amount of unoccupied homes in England as well as in Europe in relation to the social housing market. When before, these historical houses symbolized the collective past of a flourishing industry and a strong working class and community, nowadays in some former industrial cities many hundreds of houses in fairly good conditions stand abandoned and boarded-up awaiting demolition.

© Katharina Fitz

From an aesthetic point of view, boarded-up windows create a melancholic, mysterious, and sculptural atmosphere. Referring to Gaston Bachelard’s book ”The Poetics of Space” windows of houses are described as the souls of houses, when lit up at night, giving us access to their inner life, their history, and memories of past times. The images radiate an uncertainty in relation to their future, producing a sense of instability. The aims of the project are to create a conscious reflection of vacant houses and an awareness of the constant structural changes of our cities.

See more of Katharina Fitz‘s work here.

Desert City House in Paradise Valley

Located on a relatively flat one acre parcel, the site is opposite the Arizona Canal with panoramic views to the Squaw Peak Mountain reserve to the north and Camelback Mountain to the east. The house designed by Marwan Al-Sayed Architects is conceived as a thick mass casting, with two one story volumes defining the entry courtyard and acting as a base for the plaster volume upper story bridge, which houses the main living, dining, and kitchen spaces, as well as outdoor dining decks. This “reverse” living plan makes sense in the hot dry desert climate of Paradise Valley. Bedrooms on the ground level are semi sunken into the earth, affording privacy, shade, and immediacy to the surrounding desert floor. The bedrooms stay cool and intimate- while the upper public level affords the spectacular views of the surrounding topography and participates in the constant light show of vast sky, clouds and colors that so typifies the urban desert experience.


In deliberate contrast to the lower mass, protruding mysterious glass Light Monitors serve to absorb the abundant sky and sun, and simultaneously, act as a thermal draw for fresh air intakes that allow the house to naturally cool during the shoulder seasons. At night, these Monitors glow against the dark sky. The material palette is kept deliberately monotone to help accentuate the subtle green-grays, silvers and green casts of the desert landscape. Integral white cast concrete walls (20” thick) lend an almost classical, Mediterranean effect, while helping dissipate and reflect heat gain via the ‘albedo; effect. Plaster volumes are also rendered in shades of white. The overall effect of the plaster volumes and translucent white glass light monitors is a subtle white-on-white tonal range, accentuated internally with small subtle shades of green, green yellow, and black through the use of tile, wood, and resin. Urban desert living is made simple, graced by strong apertures in thick walls, slightly inflected and with proportions more commonly found in ancient cities than the cities and homes that surround us today.



Flying Houses by Laurent Chéhère

In the words of the artist Laurent Chéhère:

The “Flying Houses” are inspired by a poetic vision of old Paris, by Jules Vernes, Albert Robida, Moebius, Hayao Miyazaki, Albert Lamorisse, Wim Wenders, Federico Fellini, Marcel Carné, Jean Cocteau and a lot of others references. These buildings are also inspired by poor and cosmopolitan neighborhood of Paris where lives Laurent Chéhère. Through a tragic and melancholic report, they testify poetically and subtly of an alarming contemporary reality by revealing meanders and concerns of a class impoverished by the society, in particular the Gypsies and the immigrants. The author isolates these buildings of their urban context and releases them from the anonymity of the street to tell the life, the dreams and the hopes of these inhabitants.


Technically, it’s a photomontage. After a sketch, he photographs hundreds of elements : roof, windows, gutter, fireplace, characters, antennas, graffitiand sky, then assembles everything with a digital retouch software on his computer. In gallery, the images are shown in large format and let the curious observer to discover details and hiden references of these accurate reconstructions by proposing a double reading, one by far and one closely. The artist uses this distance to propose a different point of view and alert against preconceived ideas and prejudices. All the ingredients are there, the comedy, the drama, the poetry, the darkness, the onirism, the laughter and the tears… everything becomes entangled. The author gives some keys, but these flying houses remain open to the interpretation, it’s finally the observer who will make his own way.

laurent-1See more of Laurent Chéhère work here!

Cantilever House in Kuala Lumpur

Steeply sloping site with rainforest views. The house by Design Unit Sdn Bhd is designed to ‘float’ within a valley – touching it lightly, and allowing the natural slope to remain.


Consisting 2 independent structures – a 2 storey living & bedroom block constructed of exposed structural steel supported on a ‘forest’ of irregular spaced columns. This steel structure is cantilevered over a lower independent structure housing an art gallery and constructed of off-form concrete and includes a green roof garden and swimming pool.


The house is entered by a ramp – heightening our awareness to the valley, the floating block and also the separation from the ordinary. A courtyard is created by the 2 independent structures that are orientated on different axis creating a tension between them and strengthening the identity of each as separate functions.


Kasita has outsized functionality in an undersized footprint. From ceiling to floor, every last cubic inch is designed to maximize the home dweller’s experience. The result: an exceptional small home that contains everything you need and nothing you don’t.


They say the best ideas come from unexpected places. That’s certainly proven true for Kasita CEO Jeff Wilson, who lived in a 33 sq. ft. dumpster for a year to test the limits of habitable space. While the experiment was extreme, the experience he gained by living small and simple made a big impression. At the end of the year, he left the dumpster with the concept for a new category of housing—a beautiful, small footprint home designed as a solution for the growing housing crisis. He called it Kasita.


Find out more here.

A blog curated by Roberto Cruz Niemiec with the best of Architecture, Design and Art.