Lake House Stories

Three separate stories imagine life in a future Eco-Village floating on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York.

What might a floating community mean in terms of architecture and identity? Instead of a holiday home with picturesque views, left empty for half the year, these lake houses form the setting for a hypothetical floating extension of the present-day Eco-Village in Ithaca, NY, built upon cooperative community and ecological awareness. Through the eyes of a twenty-one-year-old boy, a couple looking for their first home, and an old grandfatherly chef, these stories imagine new sustainable ways of living, question existing housing typologies and farming practices, and examine the development of communities, their rituals, and identities.

Lake House Stories was exhibited in New York City at Civic Art Lab (2018). It was also published as a special feature in AAP News (Spring 2017), as well as in AAP Association (Vol. 9), and Imagining Energy Futures (2017).

Underwater
Underwater plan

I. The Descent

The Descent asks what a coming-of-age ritual might be in a modern, sustainability-oriented community: a tribe defined by its close relationship to the water. The story dives into the symbolism of such rituals: rebirth from the womb of the sea, emerging from the belly of the monster, and resurrection from the depths.

Underwater

The Descent takes the opportunity to illustrate the most isolated living spaces of the community: the lab and deep farms at the bottom of the lake, which are used for research. It explores the systems in place for self-sufficiency, making reference to existing underwater labs and farms, most notably Aquarius, located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and Nemo’s Garden in Noli Bay, Italy.

Underwater

II. Dream House

Dream House is concerned with housing typologies and the fantasies that give rise to them. In an underwater environment, the tension between the emotional concept of a home and the architectural typology of a house can be reconsidered. Negotiating between the individual and community, private retreat and communal living, the mobile underwater house questions the balance between dehumanizing standardization and flamboyant formal expression. Living underwater also reverses the traditional solid/void, figure/ground relationship of the built form in space.

Dream House shows plans and sections of give types of residential units, an overall plan of the residences and housing types, views of the underwater units and playgrounds, and an overall massing of the community.

III. Moving Day

Moving Day explores the tradition of moving house: what stays and what goes? In a floating community that relocates itself by tradition every fifty years, what are the rituals that evolve to make sense of this disruption? This story explores the architectural implications of archival: the attempt to physically store, record, or preserve the intangible, and how that might manifest in a built form. Moving Day makes reference to historical traditions of moving - in New York City and Quebec, for example, all leases in the city would expire at the same time, and thousands of individuals simultaneously relocate.

Houses floating away

Lake House Stories was created in a month-long architecture summer studio, under the guidance of Professor Alicia Imperiale, Cornell University, in 2016. It was first presented in this summer exhibition at Milstein Hall, Cornell University.

Summer studio exhibition

Publication

It was a privilege to work with AAP Communications to make The Descent a special insert in the Spring 2017 issue of AAP News, a semi-annual publication of Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP).

AAP News Spring 2017 publication

It was also an honour to have Lake House Stories published in the beautifuly-designed Association (Vol. 9), a publication of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, as well as in the Imagining Energy Futures Winners' Chapbook (2017), co-sponsored by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund.

Exhibition

Lake House Stories was exhibited in New York City at Civic Art Lab 2018: Sustainable Futures, a group exhibition and pop-up gallery focusing on the intersection of sustainability, design, and art in a circular economy. The 4th Annual Civic Art Lab was held on October 5-7, 2018, in New York City, and was organized by Greenspace NYC, a non-profit collaborative that develops and curates free educational programming, hands-on workshops, and public design projects that encourage dialogue, enliven public spaces, and promote the future of more equitable and sustainable cities.

Civic Art Lab 2018

Many thanks to Laura and Jeff for welcoming me to Civic Art Lab, and for inviting me to give an artist talk on opening night - especially since it was my very first time exhibiting with you!

Civic Art Lab 2018 Civic Art Lab 2018

Contact

I'd love to hear from you.

Questions, comments, commissions, and collaborations are most welcome - send a message or write to charisseishere@gmail.com.