HOMEWORK under construction

Project Description

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David Ireland's Brooms at SF MOMA

Coming upon them at MOMA I was surprised to realize how much meaning had been stripped away.   Taken out of its original home the collection made no sense, it soul had been lost as it moved from lived object to art object.


Historical context becomes central to the meaning we are attempting to establish here.


The brooms originally existed in a lived environment, and they could be seen as a set of instructions on how we should have a conversation with that environment.

The brooms belonged to the previous owner of this home which Ireland bought and was in the process of reworking, he found them in every corner.

He felt could not discard them, and so he constructed this object. The past speaking to the present.


The brooms were linked to a specific place and moment in time and without this foundation they became unmoored from meaning.


These are influences, things I am in dialogue with.

Bernd and Hilla Becher, went out into the world and showed us that all of these preexisting forms had amazing sculptural beauty especially in relationship to one another.


Here we see the visualization of a set of rules that govern the parameters of what is to be constructed.

One can attempt to improve on the design, make changes to the approach, but a formal consistency remains and can be distilled from the many. Plato's idea form.

Thoreau regarded his sojourn at Walden as an experiment with a threefold purpose. First, he was escaping the dehumanizing effects of the Industrial Revolution by returning to a simpler, agrarian lifestyle.

Second, he was simplifying his life and reducing his expenditures, increasing the amount of leisure time in which he could work on his writings. Third, he was putting into practice the Transcendentalist belief that one can best "transcend" normality and experience the Ideal, or the Divine, through nature.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden

Questions and desires


1. What is the feasibility of constructing the most basic necessities of life in a modern city state with all its attendant rules and regulations?


2. To gain a bodily understanding of the labor that is involved therein.


3. To escape the massive debt associated with home ownership in America cities  during a time of skyrocketing real estate cost


Similar to Thoreau  I wanted to buy my freedom


To get a project of this scale through the city requires a  process know as design review.

What was fascinating  was  that the city dictated what was good design and encouraged builders to follow these principles. But if you had enough money and hi powered architects you could do what you wanted and redefine what was good or bad design for yourself.


I had neither of these. I was trying to move through a system with as little resistance as possible because resistance increased cost. So these instruction dictated my design.



The cost of construction was also a factor that dictated form because I had so little funds. Everyone told me the the average cost would be $350-$400 dollars a square foot to build in the location I wanted.  it cost me $50 dollars a square foot and my time.  This was 7-8 times cheaper than the going rate.


The process revealed to me a lot about the way that labor is exploited in the home construction industry and I did gain a bodily knowledge of this fact.


Sol Lewitt


* One need only create the instructions to express the idea

* The work exists independent of its execution

* If exact technical specifications for its execution exist anyone can produce the work as its meaning wasn't embedded in it execution by any particular set of hands

This is an elevation plan, you can see how its design is informed by design review.


In this project I was not concerned with making an architectural statement through design.  Although I did look for places for free expression within the rules that governed the system.


Just like the free expression we saw in operation in the rules that govern water towers.


remember I wanted to understand how feasible it was for a individual who had no professional skills  to build a home  themselves.


I wondered, had the system effectively ruled out that option even thought it was still available on the books. Had it ruled out the option due to the complexity of the process.


As an owner occupier I had a legal right to build my own home, but was the ability within my reach


The engineering plans I viewed as a form of drawing. For me it was important that it said drawn by Lawrence Andrews on the plans.


These drawings are registered with the city of Oakland. Kept at least for as long as the house is in existence.


Engineering considerations also dictated design decision.


These drawings are artifacts of the process. There are a series of these drawings.


Instructions Executed

Because a license was required to submit a soil report.  Core soil samples and report had to be hired out. Unless  I was going to go back to school and get a soil engineering degree the city wasn't going to bend on this issue

This is pay dirt - the deeper you have to go to get to it the more expensive it becomes

Jar of pay dirt

Because the drilling machine cost $100,000 dollars, I had to hire out the drilling of pier holes for the foundation which were 8-20 feet deep

Sometimes we had to drill into solid rock,

Rock from 12 feet under.

Once these two elements where taken care of it was basically me the family and the hillside and the occasional friend when something was to heavy for me to lift alone.

Foundation Form

The form work encapsulated the negative space of the foundation that our initial 3D sketch represents.


City ordinances, budgetary and engineering constraints shaped the process. I had a family of growing children and we needed a strong foundation on which to build. It was the desire to fulfill a simple human right, shelter, which one day, so will my daughter and my son need to fulfill, and so will their children. And it is my hope that they will return to this memory and reshape it in the form of a ritual and it will repeat in perpetuity.

to be continued