U-SoA Installation: Bad Built-Ins - Closets as Vestibules

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Instigated by members of the School of Architecture (faculties and students), the installation attempts to react to a bill of law just passed in the Florida legislature that effectively complicates conversations around gender and sexuality in the classroom. In an effort to express solidarity with the School of Architecture's LGBTQ+ members and allies, their children who might be affected, and to help legitimize notions of queer space both within our own discipline and on campus, the installation creates a space around which our community can gather and have open discussions.

Bad Built-ins: Closets as Vestibules

This installation makes a folly of a closet, celebrating the uncloseted in a time of legislative follies.
 
In his 1994 Essay “Closets, Clothes, DisClosures”, Henry Urbach (SFMOMA’s then-curator) describes the moment, historically, when the closet as we know it today became architecture. In plans that date back to the 19th century in America, the stand-alone furniture slowly became part of the thickness of the wall – almost vanishing in sight. This gave birth to the closet as “built-in” and solidified it as a part of the “servant” spaces of a room. This architectural arrival of the closet coincided with the growing cultural capital of ideas revolving
around “cleanliness” – strongly embedded within 19th century Christian values centered around morality. Since homosexuality – taken as obscene, intrinsically pornographic - works against the values of “cleanliness”, it is, in this lens, best stored away. More than a century later, echoes of this discourse resurface to erase, or store away once again, LGBTQ+ identities from public view –(bathrooms, classrooms, etc…).
 
In this lens, the installation asks the closet to misbehave. By relocating the closet as built-in from the periphery to the center, it questions its vernacular conception as ancillary storage space. Severing four
existing room plans away from their origin and compressing them towards a focal point, the closet creates a site of congestion where internal circulation and roof geometries collide.What happens when the closet becomes a threshold? When it surprisingly opens onto other rooms? What happens when we leave the door open, see through it to the spaces beyond? Bad Built-ins then become great architecture… hidden in plain sight.
Fabrication Team
Sophie Juneau
Eugenio Janeiro
Fausto Rivas (Frap Studio)
Indrit Alushani (RAD UM)
George Elliott
Maryam Basti
Benjamin Martin
Andrea Lira
Julia Borges
Catalina Cabral-Framinan
Shariq Che Ramsubhag
Lexi Dreybus
Andrea Martinez
Hamza Waris
Design Collaborators
Sophie Juneau (lead)
Andrea Martinez
Chris & Shawna Meyer (LU Lab)
Cynthia Gunadi (Future Objects Lab)
Sponsors
CHIL (Community, Housing and Identity Lab)
Lawrence Kline, AIA
RARAA