A Home for All Budgets — the City Hall Park Microhouse | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


A Home for All Budgets — the City Hall Park Microhouse


Published August 21, 2009 at 5:54 p.m.

Since I'm independently wealthy and don't need to do actual work, I find myself with a lot of spare time on my hands. In fact, I am one of those ladies who lunches. These meals, generally taken with friends of my ilk, last hours, sometimes even days, and involve lots of sparkling convo and bubbly alcohol.

Anyway, while I was returning from one of these epic lunches to my office, which is really just the place where I keep all my pencils, I noticed there was a very small house planted in City Hall Park. I thought it might be a domicile of one of the many soot-covered transients who make their home in our fair green space. However, upon further examination, I discovered that the house was not in fact part of some pop-up Hooverville, but rather it was Art. With a capital "a."

The microhouse, as it has been dubbed, is part of the Human=Landscape exhibit at the Firehouse Gallery on Church Street. I'm not quite sure how humans equal landscapes, but the show is pretty nifty. There's a Dale Chihuly-esque glass mobile that I really wanted to touch, and there are a bunch of plastic motor oil bottles with faces of fat men molded into them. There was other stuff there, too, but I'm too dumb to understand it. What really caught my eye was the microhouse.

 Amanda San-Something Italian, assistant curator of the exhibit, was nice enough to give me a tour of the 100-square-foot structure that sits just a stone's throw from where all the hobos play chess and watch dog fights. The tour took about 37 seconds. While we were inside the steel-and-wooden-rib building, about 13 people tried to join us. It made for a crowded space. While Amanda was telling me about the showlet — the shower/toilet combo room — two little girls in bicycle helmets came in the microhouse and lay down on the twin-sized bed. Both expressed interest in owning a microhouse of their very own, which I found curious, since most children are spoiled brats who want 52-inch plasma screen TVs and and cellphones that cost more than my car.

The house, built by Alex Carver and Christopher North of Northern Timbers Construction, holds a single bed, a neon orange fold-up chair, a mini fridge and stove like so many sad New Yorkers have to use, four shelves, an airplane sink, a vase of wilting flowers and an abstract painting that looked like Liza Minnelli after a week-long bender. Amanda called the microhouse "half sculpture/half example of a module home." I asked her if I could live in the house for a day and she said no. Since the water isn't actually hooked up, I'd have to leave the house in order to take care of my lady business. But I would have a front-row seat to the dog fights that are apparently happening in the park.

After Amanda went back inside to curate some stuff, I took the cellphone tour of the microhouse. There's a number on the side of the house to call to get info about the exhibit. When I called, I got a recording of Alex Carver, one of the designers, talking about his work. "It is art, but more thoughtfully a statement for a green future," he said on the audio tour. "Anyone could imagine living in such a space." Yeah, if that anyone was a person the size of a juvenile chipmunk and didn't have a fear of tiny spaces.

I'm into the idea of downsizing. Lord knows I don't need all of the 10,000 square feet of living space I currently occupy. But when you fall out of bed in the middle of the night and you land in your bathroom/shower, that might be a little too small. It's definitely worth checking out, though, even if you can't live there.     

(Thanks, Amanda Sanfilippo, for providing the photo and for showing me around the space when you were shorthanded at the gallery.)

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