ScrapHouse: The Movie


I just got back from the premiere screening of ScrapHouse, shown as part of San Francisco’s Architecture and the City film festival. ScrapHouse was a proto-type single family home that made its much-laboured debut in 2005 as part of World Environment Day. Entirely made from salvaged material, ScrapHouse not only offers the comforts of home, but is also completely code compliant. And big. Very big. I remember seeing magazine (and blog) photographs last year, but tI just didn’t understand the scale of this project until I saw theis movie. The film also does a great job of explaining basic ideas of construction and exploring just how the design evolved and what materials were used. And of course, what architecture documentary would be complete without a little drama. With a start to finish construction schedule of 10 days, there were plenty of architect-contractor conflicts (and crack smoking accusations) to help drive the plot.

Sadly, ScrapHouse existed for an all-too-ephemeral 4 days. Although there were certain parties interested in purchasing the project, the cost of moving it was just too high. Appropriately…neigh, poetically, ScrapHouse was torn down and returned from whence it came: the dump. So what’s next for the ScrapHouse team? Nothin…for now, anyway. When / if the idea is revisited, the team mentioned they’d like to take the next natural step – a permanent ScrapHouse.

Oh, and I was amazed to learn that The San Francisco Recycling & Disposal Center (re: the dump) offers an Artist in Residence program!

ScrapHouse premieres on the National Geographic Channel September 18 at 7:00 and 10:00 pm PT. Don’t miss it!

&#183 Scraphouse website

The Music of Chance

A couple nights ago, my friend Mike and I were walking through the San Francisco Civic Center MUNI Station, when a familiar noise started up – the torturous scratching of THE WORST VIOLIN PLAYER IN THE WORLD. One of the more…um, ambitious, homeless and / or crazy citizens of San Francisco. I’ve often heard The Worst Violin Player in the World while fighting my way through a crowded MUNI station during rush hour, but never have I heard him at 11:30 pm playing in an empty station.

Perhaps it’s not right, but I’ve always just sort of assumed he was some bum who found a busted violin (surely a functioning violin could never make such wretched noises!) and saw a great opportunity to spice up his pan-handling. Most likely, anticipating a relative financial windfall. Well, because the station was completely empty, I was able to clearly see him playing for the first time and noticed something that had previously eluded me – some sort of sheet music. Curious, I took a closer look, and had my mind completely blown.

The Worst Violin Player in the World may very well be entirely insane, BUT he’s also an undeniable avant-garde genius. Check this: he was using BUILDING PLANS for sheet music. So basically, The Worst Violin Player in the World looks at a floor plan and somehow his brain translates that into what can only be described as the music you hear before you die. Forget John Cage. If that’s not genius, I don’t know what is.

It made me feel like a damn idiot. Do different styles of architecture sound different? How important are line weights? What does a door schedule sound like? Is it possible that the aggressive, staccato notes I heard were auditory emodiments of a demolition plan? This seems like it could potentially have drastic implications for both fields…and I’m a little afraid.