July 16, 2009

Stimulus Funds Gone Awry

Yesterday, The Infrastructurist posted an interesting article on the ineffectiveness of the stimus bill in supporting small eco-business growth in the Midwest (St. Louis, to be exact). The company featured specializes in painting roofs with a reflective white coating. We all know the benefits to this simple conversion: less absorbed sunlight = cooler summertime temperatures = less energy dedicated towards cooling the building.

Here at Mockitecture, we are interested in fads. With the "green" movement in full swing, what would happen if eco-businesses were funded to the max full of taxpayer dollars!? Would mark would they leave on our unhealthy, over-consumptive lifestyles? Like a parasite, they would certainly target and invade the epicenters of consumption: suburbia's sprawling shopping centers and beloved McMansions.

In a culture dominated by image and simulation (e.g. a suburban house screams, "I am a palace, not a cheaply constructed box."), this "white roof" thing would take some getting used to. After all, these houses sport faux wood shingles, simulated clay tiles, and an assorted selection of eye-pleasing colored asphalt shingles. But let's say this painting company, pumped full of steroids ($$$) by Uncle Sam, started white-washing entire suburbs. What would happen? I present to you, the Non-Roof:

50 years from now, we may look back on this silly early 21st century "stimulus" era as a time defined by acts of anti-architecture or anti-design in general...where massive resources were hastily channelled into retrofit projects that ignored original design intent and logic altogether. These follies of our time - catalyzed by a desperate investment in "infrastructure" by a desperate government - have the ability to change what is socially accepted as "normal." In the end, we are left with a curious image of paranoia, identity crisis, and paradox.


Edward Tait said...

Are you insinuating that there is original design intent and logic to McMansions?

N O R T O N said...

Ed: Thanks for your comment! The signs and symbols that constitute the American suburban home are certainly inspired by many (often conflicting) styles and eras, but the infamous McMansion typology that dominates much of the American landscape today is simply a result of the evolution of more than 60 years of suburban growth. I would argue that design intent is purely affected by the demands of the market and getting the most bang for your buck. These buildings are, in someways a spin-off of Corb's machine for living, designed for their most efficient mass production. In that regard, one could argue the McMansion is a logical step in the history of residential living, with a very specific set of associated design details.

Jenn said...

Hm. I'm seeing a shingle design that has a strong edge that carries a color and a white exposure on the face.

It looks remarkably similar to the lines we put on paper to represent 'shingles' in facade drawings...