McMansions — cookie-cutter, suburban homes that
typically measure between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet — have long been loathed by many architects. The homes, meant to exude affluence without costing buyers a fortune, are usually built without much consideration for architectural principles.
McMansions peaked in in the US following the 2008 recession, and nearly 10 years later they have become symbols of isolation and suburban sprawl.
Architect Keith Krumwiede envisions a different, more urban future for McMansions. In his new book, “Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction,” Krumwiede imagines a world made completely of McMansion communities.
Called Freedomland, the imaginary world features 128 clusters of the mega-homes (Krumwiede calls them estates) that resemble 19th century communes or medieval villages. The McMansion plans come from real house layouts used by homebuilders known for constructing McMansion neighbourhoods, like Toll Brothers and Pulte.
Each 10-acre estate site features McMansions that connect to one another, forming mega McMansions. Some of these clusters, which may circle around a park or plaza, have up to 200 bedrooms and 100 bathrooms each.
Four estate sites make up larger 40-acre parcels, three-quarters of which include farmland.
The goal of the satirical book, which is satirical but also pays homage to McMansions, is to explore how suburbs could come up with new street layouts for huge homes. Krumwiede, an architecture professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, says that Freedomland would promote interaction amongst neighbours, since the estates are closer together than homes in typical McMansion neighbourhoods.
“Freedomland is premised on the following irrefutable truths: that local farming is good, being that it provides better food and makes better use of our increasingly limited resources than commercial agriculture; that urban living is also good, improving as it does the health, happiness, and prosperity of the populace; and that the majority of Americans still aspire to the material and spatial luxuries represented by the detached single-family house as it is most resplendently found in the suburbs,” he writes.
“Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction” can be purchased online for $US49.