Monday, October 20, 2008

Make It Wrong?

What have we here?

Why, it's one of the 13 choices of new home designs for residents of the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans. This project of Brad Pitt's states the following goal: “Because local cultural influences gave rise to the pre-Katrina architecture so emblematic of the area, preserving that identity remains vital in reclaiming the spirit of the neighborhood.” But it's mighty hard to find any attempt to preserve the area's architectural identity in this bizarre design from MVRDV, a firm from The Netherlands.

To view all 13 design offerings, visit the Make It Right website. Like so many other modernist attempts at low-income housing in the U.S., these houses look like sure-fire candidates for the wrecking ball in 20 years.

While the Make It Right project is certainly well-intended, the designs seem so out of touch with the intended recipients, even though community leaders were involved in the project. It's hard to imagine that the people who will be living in these houses would actually choose these designs over the vernacular styles — the shotguns, camelbacks, and creole cottages — that for 100 years have meant home to this culturally-rich, close-knit, vibrant community now in tatters.