A Future Suburbia: Open House 2011 – Part 1 of 3

A Future Suburbia: Open House 2011 – Part 1 of 3

Can the answers to saving suburbia be found at the heart of what drives big cities?

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 3 may 2011

Last week PSFK attended Open House, a day long event hosted by Droog in collaboration with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro that presented a re-imagined future for suburbia. Droog founder Renny Ramakers introduced the project which was developed through Droog Lab, a limited run collaborative design platform aiming to identify unique local conditions which can inform globally-relevant design ideas. Renny explained that the inspiration for the project in New York stemmed from her frequent trips to the city while the Droog shop in Soho was open. She became aware of the unique breath and depth of the service industry which is a core element to how New York City functions.

NYC based Diller Scofidio + Renfro was invited to serve as lead designers on the project and began by conducting research and interviewing local service providers. Charles Renfro provided details on the people they spoke with which ranged from NYC fixtures like dog walkers to psychics.  A few of the more unique providers mentioned were The Luv Coach (a dating consultant), NY Wedding Dance (dance school) and Dr. Sofa ( a furniture surgeon who cuts large pieces apart and rebuilds them inside small apartments). The interviews provided insights into how these service providers did business as well as how they used space within the city.

Renfro spoke about how the density of New York is an important ingredient in the sustained success of small sized service providers. The blending of residential and commercial spaces within the city contribute to a sense of ‘business everywhere’. Suburbs on the other hand have historically emphasized separation both geographically from places of work as well as from direct contact with neighbors through individual lots. While their creation promised an escape from the unhealthy conditions within cities of the past, suburbs today show the symptoms of stagnation and outdated thinking. The goal of the Open House project is to imagine how a suburban service economy might look and function.

Open House encourages self-inventiveness, offers ideas, and proposes new models for suburban housing, striking a new balance between the private and public realm. Starting with an economic argument for the struggling middle class, the proposal also addresses the challenges posed by urban sprawl and single-owner consumption. The new residential marketplace not only brings more capital and density to the neighborhood, it also increases social cohesion through service exchanges.

DS+R generated some initial planning ideas for how homeowners might transform their spaces to serve a broader community based on their interests.

Front of the house is extended with a viewing area and lounge while privacy is maintained for the rest of the house.

Created for a skilled bedtime story teller, the added space allows other members of the community to visit and listen discretely.

Meant for young lovers looking for some privacy, this house caters to stealthy romantic encounters.

They also generated some conceptual plans for how multiple houses might be linked together to create broader shared spaces.


In Part 2, we’ll be sharing the first batch of realized projects created in Levittown, NY by local architects and designers.

[concept illustrations via: Droog in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro with EFGH]


Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology Yesterday

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children Yesterday

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Retail 2017

See All
Travel Yesterday

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Gabe Newell

Game Development and Distribution

Food Yesterday

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed november 22, 2016

Digital Strategist: Why “Big Sensing” Is Key To Retail’s Future

Bud Caddell, Founder of NOBL, shares why the most capable and useful asset in any retail environment is the workforce

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated Yesterday

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Retail Yesterday

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

Fashion Yesterday

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work Yesterday

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing Yesterday

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

Automotive Yesterday

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

No search results found.