The carport for essential living
Australia, like many other industrialised countries, loves the car. But while we might think of the car as an object in motion, it spends the majority of its life at rest. Despite the twisty subterranean parking complexes, complicated stackers or street-side parking of cities, there is little question that the carport is a well-understood fixture of Australian vernacular architecture.
Unlike a garage, a carport has no walls, it is nothing but a simple awning. We might not question this distinction beyond the obvious cost-saving measures, but it’s inventor Frank Lloyd Wright designed the carport in this way as a lifestyle-shaping device so that its owners would not fill the space with unnecessary things.
The project for which the carport was designed is a marvellous example of Wright’s belief that proper architecture could shape culture. This project was called Usonia 1, which was designed to fit a then 5,000USD budget (roughly equivalent to 85,000USD today). In describing the Usonia project Wright explained:
I believe now people are going to know what constitutes good architecture, and of course, good living has to go with it. Good conduct also. Good dressing too. Because you wouldn’t dress in a loud and vulgar way in a quiet and beautiful room. All these good things are dependent more or less one on the other and add up to something we call culture. It’s only by a natural growth that you can attain culture.
Today many would see this as overtly authoritarian. But as we are products of our environment, perhaps we all ought to live with such constraints in order to live essential lives.
Inspired by: 99% Invisible: Usonia 1