Fuck The Vessel | Kate Wagner

from  https://thebaffler.com/

The Vessel is really a perfect name for the sixteen-story monument nestled in the midst of the now complete “neighborhood” (read: real estate scheme) of Hudson Yards, New York City. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, one of architecture’s premier grifters, a man who should be banned internationally from using the term “parti,” the Vessel is composed of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings. Apparently the architect drew inspiration from an early experience with, to nobody’s surprise, an old staircase. The depth of architectural thinking at work here makes a kiddie-pool seem oceanic.

The Vessel is a structure that invites parody—it has already been likened to a giant shawarma, a beehive, a pine cone, a wastebasket. Apparently, there is to be a competition for a new name, as “The Vessel” was only supposed to be a temporary one. It really is the perfect name, however, not least because it implies a certain emptiness. One asks, though, what it is a vessel for?

It is a Vessel for the depths of architectural cynicism, of form without ideology and without substance: an architectural practice that puts the commodifiable image above all else, including the social good, aesthetic expression, and meaningful public space. It is a Vessel for the architecture of views, perhaps the hottest spatial commodity of all.

It is a Vessel for capital, for a real estate grift that can charge more for an already multi-million dollar apartment because it merely faces it. It is a Vessel for a so-called neighborhood that poorly masks its intention to build luxury assets for the criminally wealthy under the guise of investing in the city and “public space.” What is public space if not that land allocated (thanks to the generosity of our Real Estate overlords) to the city’s undeserving plebeians, who can interface with it in one of two ways: as consumers or interlopers, both allowed only to play from dawn ‘til dusk in the discarded shadows of the ultra-rich? Unlike a real neighborhood, which implies some kind of social collaboration or collective expression of belonging, Hudson Yards is a contrived place that was never meant for us. Because of this, the Vessel is also a Vessel for outrage like my own.

It is a Vessel for labor without purpose. The metaphor of the stairway to nowhere precludes a tiring climb to the top where one is expected to spend a few moments with a cell-phone, because at least a valedictory selfie rewards us with the feeling that we wasted time on a giant staircase for something—perhaps something contained in the Vessel. The Vessel valorizes work, the physical work of climbing, all while cloaking it in the rhetoric of enjoyment, as if going up stairs were a particularly ludic activity. The inclusion of an elevator that only stops on certain platforms is ludicrously provocative. The presence of the elevator implies a pressure for the abled-bodied to not use it, since by doing so one bypasses “the experience” of the Vessel, an experience of menial physical labor that aims to achieve the nebulous goal of attaining slightly different views of the city. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, to which the Vessel has been unfathomably compared, the Vessel is just tall enough to make you feel bad for not hiking up it. To climb the Eiffel Tower is equally pointless, but its sheer size makes taking the elevator the de facto, socially normalized experience. The elevators of the Vessel and their lackluster architectural integration belie the architectural profession’s view of accessibility as a code-enforced concession rather than an ethos, a moral right to architecture for all. By taking the elevator up the Vessel, you are both inviting the judgment of your peers who insist on hauling ass up sixteen stories and confirming its sheer pointlessness as a structure; for, unlike the Eiffel Tower, which has a restaurant and shop, there is nothing at the top other than a view of the Hudson and the sad promise of the repeat performance of laboring your way back down.

The Vessel is a vessel for another type of labor: digital labor. Until a few days ago, after a moment of social media outrage, if you were to take a selfie or a photo at the Vessel, the Hudson Yards developers would own the rights to your content in perpetuity. (Now they have the right to circulate and use your media, but not to own it outright.) Regardless of these changes, by taking a selfie or photograph (an act that, to be fair, is perhaps the only true purpose of the Vessel), you are still doing the unpaid work of promotion and content creation for a developer conglomerate, regardless of your intent. By merely stepping foot in the complex, you waive your right to privacy and are ruthlessly surveilled by subtly hidden cameras. What is done with this footage can only be suspected, but it doesn’t stop our malevolent shawarma from serving as a convenient, yes, architectural vessel—not only for affective labor but also the dystopian world-building of surveillance capitalism itself. The Vessel betrays the fact that behind the glitzy, techno-urbanist facade of the Smart City™ lies the cold machinations of a police state. That architecture is used as live bait for these purposes is but one of many symptoms pointing to a field in a state of ethical decline.

The Vessel has invited nearly universal vitriol, even amongst the politest architecture critics. It is an object lesson teaching us that, in our neoliberal age of surveillance capitalism—an era where the human spirit is subjected to a regime of means testing and digital disruption, and a cynical view of the city as an engine of real estate prevails—architecture, quite frankly, sucks.

In Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment, Henri Lefebvre conceived of architecture as a specific level of social practice, on which the reality of everyday life emerges to suggest new, better possibilities. He writes:

There is no thought without a project, no project without exploration—through the imagination—of a possible, a future. . . . There is no social space without an unequally distributed stock of possibles. Not only is the real not separated from the possible but, in a sense, it is defined by it and, therefore, by a part of utopia.

In short, the Vessel is a vessel of its time, and its sheer shittiness as architecture and urbanism, itself a small part of the bigger tyranny of capitalism, at least invites us to dream of something, anything, better than this.

Kate Wagner is the creator of the viral blog McMansionHell, which roasts the world’s ugliest houses from top to bottom, all while teaching about architecture and design. Since its launch in July 2016, the blog has been featured in a wide range of publications, including the Huffington Post, Slate, Business Insider and PAPER.
Outside of McMansion Hell, Kate has written for Curbed, 99 Percent Invisible, The Atlantic, Architectural Digest and more. She recently graduated from Johns Hopkins with a Masters of Arts in Audio Science, specializing in architectural acoustics. Her thesis project examined intersections of acoustics, urbanism and Late Modern architecture.

Container Living

hey, isn’t that?….

Best Shipping Container Homes
Believe it or not, there was a time when shipping container homes seemed like nothing more than a novel idea. While many saw the sustainability benefits from building a home with recycled shipping containers, most thought they looked much too ugly to call home. Well thankfully there are talented designers out there, with a much better knack for creativity and design than us. It’s these designers, architects, and outside of the box thinkers that have taken the trend of shipping container homes to new heights over the years. What was once just a bizarre thought has now become the ultimate dream for many of us.

These days there are a handful of companies waiting to make your dream become a reality, some right here in the United States. These steel shipping container homes (often referred to as storage container houses) are completely manufactured in a factory-controlled environment, so there is no need to worry about reliability or quality control. All you have to do is supply the land, and the money of course. Next comes the design process. What exactly are you looking for? Would you like a single container transformed into a small studio or office space? Or how about a collection of shipping containers fused together in order to create a much more spacious residence? We’ve been writing about these things for years, and have amassed a collection of the best shipping container houses to help you get inspired for your project (or just drool over). So without further ado, we present to you, the 15 greatest shipping container homes on the planet – in no particular order.

40000 Containers Of Hope Residence 1

1. $40,000 Containers Of Hope Residence

With a $40,000 budget, Benjamin Garcia Saxe used two 40-foot long shipping containers to create this cozy 1,000 square feet space. The home is located in San Jose, Costa Rica, and proves you don’t need deep pockets to fund a shipping container home project. [Details]

Colorado Shipping Container Home by Studio H-T 1

2. Colorado Shipping Container Home by Studio H:T

The design team at Studio H:T thought a bit outside of the box with this one. Rather than build the entire home from shipping containers, they chose to add 2 storage containers to the outsides of a pre-existing structure. The residence is nestled on a ledge in Nederland, Colorado, and includes roof mounted solar panels, passive cooling, and much more. [Details]

Six-Unit Shipping Container Home 1

3. Six-Unit Shipping Container Home

Based in Flagstaff, Arizona, this collection of 6 shipping containers has been criss-crossed every which way to create an amazing dwelling. The home features concrete floors, large glass windows, rooftop terrace, industrial finishes, and red brick colored stairs to really tie the space together nicely. The project took 2 years to complete as a student-designer collaboration. [Details]

Maison Container Life Residence 1

4. Maison Container Life Residence

Another instance of multiple shipping containers being used, the Maison Container Life project was designed by French architect Patrick Partouche. There are 8 different containers, creating 2,238 square feet of living space. This residence took just three days to build, although they did have some help from some very large cranes. [Details]

Colorful Sao Paulo Shipping Container Residence 1

5. Colorful Sao Paulo Shipping Container Residence

Rather than build the actual home from shipping containers, renowned Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan chose to integrate massive, vibrantly colored containers to the mix by stacking them all throughout the living space. [Details]

Shipping Container Guest House by Poteet Architects 1

6. Shipping Container Guest House by Poteet Architects

Guest houses are typically small anyway, so why not build yours from a recycled shipping container? Designed by the team at Poteet Architects, this modern living space spans 360 square feet, and has everything one would need from a living room and study area, right down to the bathroom and patio. [Details]

Mojave Desert Shipping Container Home 1

7. Mojave Desert Shipping Container Home

Built by the folks at Ectotech Design, this is is the first ever shipping container residence to be constructed in the Mojave Desert. The 2,300 square foot home (known as the Tim Palen Studio at Shadow Mountain) is located near Joshua Tree, and encompasses six shipping containers along with pre-engineered steel components. The home includes one bedroom along with 1.5 bathrooms. [Details]

San Francisco Shipping Container Office Guest Bedroom 1

8. San Francisco Shipping Container Office & Guest Bedroom

Okay so technically it’s not a shipping container home, but the use of containers for this project could not be overlooked. Seeing that they have a large open space in their San Francisco loft, couple Jeff Wardell and Claudia Sagan placed 2 shipping containers right off the living room. One container serves as a guest house, while the other serves as a fully functional home office. [Details]

Stacked Shipping Container Home in Spain 1

9. Stacked Shipping Container Home in Spain

Located in El Tiemblo, Spain (a province of Avila) this project materialized back in 2010, and still looks great to this day. There are 4 different 40-foot shipping containers making up the 2,000 square feet of living space. The project was designed by James & Mau Arquitectura while Infinski actually built it out. [Details]

Savannah Woods Shipping Container Dwelling 1

10. Savannah Woods Shipping Container Dwelling

A young couple residing in the woodsy town of Savannah, Georgia commissioned Price Street Projects for this tiny home. While it might not look like much from the outside, the white walls, dark floors and skylights provide a nice modern touch throughout the dwelling. [Details]

Six Oaks Shipping Container Residence 0

11. Six Oaks Shipping Container Residence

Looking to create the ultimate getaway in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a local family hired David Fenster of Modulus in sunny California to build this beauty. Fenster went with darker containers than many of the projects on this list, and situated the home atop an old railway that now serves as an underground escape route during an emergency. The home is 1,200 square feet. [Details]

Redondo Beach Shipping Container House 1

12. Redondo Beach Shipping Container House

Located just north of us in Los Angeles, this stunning home did a standup job combining traditional building materials with prefabricated shipping containers. Built as a collaboration project between DeMaria Design and Logical Homes, this residence has everything one could ever ask for – including close proximity to the beach. [Details]

Port-A-Bach Shipping Container Home 1

13. Port-A-Bach Shipping Container Home

Designed to be inexpensive and portable, the Port-A-Bach is the exact picture that comes to mind when we think of storage container dwellings. The tiny home was built back in 2007 by the team at Atelierworkshop, and features a double bed alongside 2 fold out bunk beds, providing sleeping quartes for up to 4 people. Unfolding the boxy home provides a nice deck to enjoy to enjoy everything the great outdoors has to offer. [Details]

Shipping Container Complex in Scotland 1

14. Shipping Container Complex in Scotland

Taking a different approach than many on the list, Edo Architecture was commissioned to design an entire complex of rentable shipping container residences in Cove Park, Scotland. The team welded 6 shipping containers together to create a tiny little waterfront resort. [Details]

Zigloo Domestique Shipping Container Home in Canada  1

15. Zigloo Domestique Shipping Container Home in Canada

Considered one of the very first shipping container homes in Canada, this dwelling was built using a total of eight 20-foot shipping containers. The home spans 1,920 square feet, and was designed by Keith Dewey. [Details]

Trending Now

Do you ever start putting looks together in the store – without any intention of buying anything? I found myself doing this the other day. That shoe’s a winner and only $2.99 but I can’t wear a 17 inch neck.

Happy Gay Pride Month to the gays. I like this rainbow sash. Sashes of any kind are trending now. Rainbow sashes are pre-trending with a steady build through June. The Mork suspenders are not gonna cut it. Not this year, not any year. Leave them at home.

Hi Scott!  What’s up up there? I am wondering what you have been painting lately.

It’s the new New School. I liked it when it was called The New School For Social Research. Is it still called that? Do they still research society in there? How long will it be before it is known as TNS? eeew.  The building looks kind of, well, kind of – very weird. I don’t suppose they are thinking about leaving the day-glo drapes though. Too bad. Day Glo is trending now. Everybody knows that.