The current exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum, ‘Together! The New Architecture of the Collective’, is about communal living of a more permanent kind. The first section of the show deals with historical experiments in collective living such as Robert Owen’s proto-socialist, paternalistic New Harmony project from 1825 in rural Indiana, or Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner’s 1925 modernist Hufeisensiedlung estate on the outskirts of Berlin, but then moves swiftly on to the more politically-motivated communes established in the 1960s and 70s that were all about rejecting ideas of individual ownership and bourgeois ideals, that often set the new communards in direct confrontation with the state.
But then the exhibition moves swiftly on to the collective impulses of the internet generation, where communal living now seems a logical conclusion of shared data, shared cars, crowdsourcing, couch-surfing and the like, and talks about a whole range of architectural projects that experiment with proportions of public/private space in an urban environment and reject the conventional model of housing designed for nuclear family units.
The show’s curators, Andreas and Ilka Ruby and architects EM2N, have built a 1:10 scale cityscape of models of 21 existing contemporary buildings from around the world that blur the boundaries of ‘family’ as well as the borders between residences and neighbourhoods.