drew powers: suburbia in vain
drew powers: suburbia in vain drew powers: suburbia in vain
may 21, 2011

drew powers: suburbia in vain

‘suburbia in vain’ by drew powers, denver, colorado images courtesy of drew powers

recent university of michigan architecture graduate drew powers has sent us his thesis project, entitled ‘suburbia in vain’. sited in denver, colorado, the proposal  speculates on new ways of fulfilling suburban desires without producing the sprawl. acting as a parasite on the downtown core, the intervention would eventually produce a new form of urbanism as it expands and fills in the numerous urban voids.

vertical suburbia

fueled by television, film and advertising, the idealized image of the large suburban home has led to the perpetuation of sprawl. driven by the ‘bigger is better’ mentality, today’s suburban house is not only a place for private isolation, but also a site for projecting an exaggerated image of wealth and publicly displaying one’s possessions.

this project reinterprets these suburban desires and reconfigures them to create a new hybrid living environment. located in a city that has been emptied by suburban dispersal, the project seeks to mitigate the existing condition by increasing the density of an underpopulated city center. simultaneously urban and suburban, the intervention proposes an alternative to developing virgin land: vertical sprawl. by superficially conforming to popular suburban values, the project subversively produces new desires for urban density and challenges the traditional conspicuous consumption of suburbia.

gradual expansion

individual housing units are designed around the display of possessions. like traditional suburbia, the front facades and lawns become stages to present an exaggerated image of wealth and status. the front facades are internalized, facing one another to further competition and desire between neighbors, while the buildings’ services are pushed to the outside, presenting a frenetic facade to the city. this arrangement creates opportunities to meet suburban notions of ownership on the interior, while simultaneously providing an urban sense of anonymity on the exterior.

inverted facades

‘suburbia’ in the midst of the city


section through typical residential block

section through typical residential block

  • It would be like living in a Kowloon parking garage.

    Craig M says:
  • i gotta get me some of that “grows-in-the-dark” grass

    yeahno says:
  • @yeahno: it’s called Astroturf ™.

    bigmacbear says:
  • ummm wheres the STRUCTUREEEE?

    Sassy E says:
  • …reminds me of this project: [url=http://pinkcloud.dk/work/04/the-urban-suburb] urban suburb by pinkcloud.dk [/url]

    Boy Schorsch says:
  • I like the sections, stud!

    YoTelo says:
  • is this held up with love?

    NUTS4drewp says:

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