conversation with fritz haeg
original content
jan 25, 2010
conversation with fritz haeg

fritz haeg
image © designboom

the multi-disciplinary architect and designer fritz haeg was one of the speakers at conversations in
design: a world without oil
. during his talk, haeg discussed a number of his projects including the edible
estates project, which transforms suburban front lawns into fruit and vegetable gardens. haeg also talked
about his more recent animal estates project that began with a commission from the whitney museum.
for this installation haeg developed a series of habitats for different animals that once inhabited
manhattan island before development and brought them back into the urban environment. designboom
sat down to talk with haeg about his work and his perspective on sustainability.

example of an edible estates by fritz haeg

what is the biggest hurdle between us and an oil free world?

i think the projects I’m doing are not motivated by this, they are
coming at it from such a different
direction. I’m interested in
creating projects that are demonstrative of the world that I personally
to live in. one where I’m growing my own food and there are
gardens in the street and there are animals
in the city and I can only
imagine the implication that that would have if everyone did it. so I’m
specifically coming at it from an engineer’s or architect’s point
of view that is quantifying anything.

edible estates book by fritz haeg

how have issues of sustainability altered your work or process?

sustainability has been part of my work since I was quite young. I was
doing gardens and dealing with
plants even when I was in college. all
of the projects that were in mirko’s (mirko zardini, director of the
canadian centre for architecture) book “sorry, out of gas” were kind of
the foundation for my work and
provided the context for it. I was
obsessed with that whole period of architecture and design that was

really ugly, but is really functional. I get really excited about that
kind of work; underground houses and
all of that. this has kind of been
implicit in everything i’ve been doing since I was in college. so I
think my work has evolved, because sustainability has been a

fritz haeg
image © designboom

what is your dream project?

I’m doing my dream projects. none of my projects are dependant on
people inviting me. i’m deciding on
the projects I want to do. I also
set parameters that my projects are things anyone could do themselves.

this way they are really functioning as models or examples anyone else
can pick up. I purposefully
haven’t pursued larger, more civic projects
that have a lot of red tape or are top down monuments or
things that
that are aspirational only to certain parts of the population. I am
really limiting myself to
a very narrow range of activity that is very
modest. the animal projects and the garden projects are
ongoing and
i’ll do a few of them a year and I have new projects in the works, but I’m not sure what
form they will take yet. I have a lot of book
projects on the go too. one in particular is in the early
stages. I
want to do a kid’s book that is an anarchist’s book about the future.
that is what I am most
excited about.

fritz haeg’s home in california

fritz haeg’s home in california

what advice would you give to young designers?

  Ithink the interesting thing happening now is that the young students
in school are much more open
and aware of the issues than their
teachers are. hopefully they are going to more equipped than their

teachers to deal with this. I always feel like I am learning a lot from
my students in this regard because
they are going to be the generation
that is picking up the pieces to a large degree. I think there are so

many ridiculous, antiquated ideas of beauty, ways that our cities
operate and ways that we use land.
there is just an endless list of
ridiculous things that we live with day to day that we take for
I think we need kids of a younger generation to just
one-by-one knock them all down and pick them up
and deeply question all
these things we have inherited. be aware that we inherited them and we
decide on them.

dome colony x in the san gabriels by fritz haeg, 2009

animal estates by fritz haeg, 2008

animal estates by fritz haeg, 2008

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