The House That Folded Itself (2013)


Design for a two-client dwelling at 7 Ware Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Megan, the “socialite investment banker”, requires a dwelling whose hierarchy of privacy provides her with both a place to entertain guests, and into which she can retreat from the world. Andy, the “insomniac scholar”, views his home primarily as an archive of collected and created knowledge, with living functions being secondary. The final design meets the distinct spatial needs of the two clients, but also allows for negotiation and coexistence between the hierarchical and non-hierarchical through a process of embedding and enfolding. The resulting dwellings embrace one another and merge into a unified structure, despite the polarization their opposing organizational strategies would seem to create.

In Jorge Luis Borges’ short story The Library of Babel, denizens of the near-infinite Library spend their lives wandering its hexagonal galleries, searching for Truth in identically-sized tomes whose four hundred and ten pages contain every possible permutation of twenty five orthographic symbols. The futility of this task drives the Librarians to madness; just the number of unique nonsensical tomes exceeds the number of elementary particles in our visible universe. Andy’s circulation system, an Eulerian path with two vertices of odd degree, explores similar themes of infinity derived from the finite, and the collapse and negation of meaning through exhaustive permutation and iteration.

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