POPULAR TODAY ARCHITECTURE

andrea zittel AZ west wagon station encampment
original content
oct 21, 2012
andrea zittel AZ west wagon station encampment


inhabitable sculptures – A-Z wagon stations
image courtesy andrea zittel

blurring the line between art and life, american artist andrea zittel’s fascinating experiments in functional living showcase her preoccupation
with self-sufficiency and adaptability. since a decade she has been creating minimal self-sufficient dwelling spaces in which everyday actions
such as sleeping, eating, cooking, bathing and socializing are transformed into acts of art.

‘A-Z west’ is located on thirty-five acres in the california high desert next to joshua tree national park.
since it’s inception in fall 2000, ‘A-Z west’ has been undergoing an
ongoing conversion into our testing grounds for ‘A-Z designs for
living’.
the artist wanted to explore how perceptions of freedom have been re-adapted for contemporary living, but despite moving to the desert to be alone,
she ended up doing many social and public projects. current structures and projects include two original homestead cabins that serve as zittel’s primary
residence and guest house, a studio/shop facility, a shipping container compound, regenerating field, and the wagon station encampment
(this initiative started in 2003).

instead of building big ranches and permanent homesteads, today’s independence seekers prefer small portable structures, which evade the
regulatory control of bureaucratic restrictions such as building and safety codes.
zittel developed temporary living shelters that reference both the covered wagons of the old western frontier and the standard suburban station wagons of today.
although the wagon stations do not have wheels, they are easy to collapse, transport, and reassemble.
their small size allows them to evade building codes, providing the inhabitant with the potential for greater freedom and autonomy.


a luxurious double-wide A-Z wagon station customized by andrea zittel and david dodge
image courtesy andrea zittel

are lightly heated but un-insulated and best suited for habitation in the spring and fall.
a number have been adapted by artists and other individuals for use at A–Z west
(the guggenheim has acquired two wagon stations).


A-Z wagon station customized by jonas hauptman (super-sized by adding extra sections)
image courtesy andrea zittel

of the 17 original wagon stations, 13 were customized by friends and frequent collaborators at A-Z west.
when 
jonas hauptman (the original fabricator of all the units) left
california (2010) to pu
rsue a job opportunity the customized structure
began to languish
in the desert elements. now zittel turned it into a wagon station vacation where people can
stay when they visit A-Z west.
‘it can sleep 2 people and their gear very comfortably, or a family of 4 snuggly’.
a rain visor should help
stop the rain from leaking in and rotting out the shiny new floor. see images here.
there is not a bathroom per se. wagon station vacation is fitted with an
environmentally friendly camping style toilet just a few yards
from the
structure.
the caretaker of wagon station vacation will provide 10 gallons of water a day for drinking and cleaning.
see the map.


the new footing and a tie down system, along with fasteners on the hatch and back entry door
image courtesy andrea zittel

august 2012 – zittel is adding/replacing the compound with a new stock.
the new footing and a tie down system, along with fasteners on the hatch and back entry door helps to resist the strong desert wind.


for the last year they have been slowly replacing all of the customized wagon stations with new stock of wagon stations
image courtesy andrea zittel


the desert windstorms have managed to flip and smash them on an ongoing basis
image courtesy andrea zittel

while expanding the wagon station encampment it also became time to address the never ceasing issue with wind.


repair of wagon stations after they were demolished by the wind in february of 2008
image courtesy andrea zittel

joshua tree basically sits just past the edge of the swath of urban sprawl coming from from los angeles. 
the nearby towns of yucca valley and twenty nine palms seem to be
succumbing to american homogeneity, with walmarts, burger kings,
dollar general, etc. still separated by a few miles of desert, joshua tree retains an independent
local character that is refreshing.
out of necessity, life and living are different in the remote mojave than in most parts of the country.
in joshua tree there is still so much space (both for living and for thinking).


A-Z wagon stations at milwaukee museum of art
image courtesy andrea zittel

my art suffers in institutions‘, zittel says. ‘we have an open house so
that people can come and stay in the wagon stations, where they
can see
everything in its original context. staying in them is an extension of
the museum pieces on show.


A-Z wagon stations at milwaukee museum of art
image courtesy andrea zittel

andrea zittel
was born in escondido, california, in 1965.
she received a BFA in painting and sculpture in 1988 from san diego state university, and an MFA in sculpture in 1990 from the rhode
island school of design. at first, she started to design furniture that satisfied her needs and desires and saved space. in search for organization systems
in all areas of life, she acts as a researcher, test person, inventor and fabricator efficiently rolled up into one, producing objects, dwelling units and clothing.
zittel founded ‘A-Z administrative services’ in 1992 as a laboratory, shop, conceptual organization, apartment and office and since then her sculptures
and installations transform everything necessary for life – such as eating, sleeping, bathing, and socializing – into artful experiments in living –
based on the idea that a person’s possessions and living conditions can influence their views and behavior.
zittel is co-organizer of a project called ‘high desert test sites’ which are a series of experimental art sites located along a stretch of desert communities
including pioneer town, yucca valley, joshua tree, 29 palms and wonder valley. these sites provide alternative space for experimental works by both
emerging and established artists.

comments policy
LOG IN VIA
login with designboom
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

product library