Blast from the Past: Filthy Rich

A blast from the past: Mikael Askergren’s own description of his Filthy Rich proposal for the international Bo 2000 Malmö architecture and urban planning competition (1997):

Experiments are costly, prototypes are expensive. It is always the rich who are the best guineapigs for experiments in technical and/or conceptual development: the rich can afford trying out new technologies and housing concepts that are expensive to finance (and can afford failing at making them work). The general public at large will have to wait for the cheap, massproduced version. Or they will shop second hand.

Experimental social housing for the masses therefore is a contradiction of terms. The best of intentions (ecology, sociopolitics, etc.) do not matter: when one has great restrictions financially (which one always has when one builds social housing for the masses) it’s a bit much to ask for the build/the design to be not only cost effective, but technologically experimental and conceptually advanced as well. Because prototypes are so expensive, the only aspects of the financially restricted social housing sector of the building industry that can be made the subjects of experimentation are — experiments in cutting costs: lower ceilings, lower standards, smaller rooms, etc.

At the Bo 2000 Housing Expo in Malmö, Sweden, in addition to the more or less compulsory housing estates for working and middle class (see competition brief), there should — at least as a compliment to the underfinanced (and therefore less experimental) social housing — be a series of large (very large) dwellings/houses. Such houses have greater chances at becoming “interesting” in all respects: technologically, ecologically — and sociopolitically! — and architecturally! — than even the most advanced design for low budget social housing.