Hortus Conclusus

Project Description

This project asserts the necessity of a new form of housing for “the creative class” in the city of Newark. In opposition to contemporary notions of flexible and informal spaces for living and working, the project seeks to create a clearly defined space that provides accommodation, work space and library facilities for two hundred and fifty creative workers and local residents.

The typology of the hortus conclusus provides the formal and programmatic foundation for the design of an archetype that brings together public housing and public information. This archetype is deployed on a number of vacant lots in Newark, defining a constellation of framed, empty spaces which serve as the catalyst for the emergence of a new form of collective identity for creative workers. As such, the public housing is provided as recompense to creative workers, whose way of life in and of itself provides an amenity to the city and its inhabitants. While the term “the creative class” as coined by Richard Florida suggests the economic potential of this group, it fails to address the more problematic aspects of their precarious condition. These highly skilled, mobile and dedicated workers have little cohension or class consciousness. In response, the archetype aims to present a distinct form that stands in contrast to the rest of the city. Its confrontational character seeks to define a space for the emergence of an identity driven by the library occupants. The importance of cultural and creative labor in the proliferation of new spaces of production and complicit forms of subjectivity is therefore recognized and appropriated in service of the production of a new language for public housing and a unique and cohesive identity for the creative workers of Newark.