On July 15, 2012, architects Matthieu Bain and Andrew Perkins begin an artist residency sponsored by the Art Project. For the next six months, Bain and Perkins, recent graduates of the State University of New York - Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, will begin cleaning and maintaining the former Spencer's Mortuary building while living in a neighboring house donated for use of the project.
The artists are being encouraged by the Art Project to pursue an artistic process responsive to the specific nature of the house and its environment, planning the adaptation of the building for a public use to be determined by them in cooperation with the project, the surrounding community, and local arts groups and institutions.
Over the coming months, the Art Project will use the building grounds for small public events, meetings, performances--and once it meets building codes--office space for local artists and visitors to our programs. The Spencer's Art House project is modeled after Bain and Perkins' master's thesis, Dwelling on Waste, which transformed a distressed home in Buffalo into a warm off-the-grid shelter for the artists and friends, catalyzing new relationships between neighbors, and demonstrating an affordable and sustainable reuse of abandoned properties in the post-industrial city.
Cannibalizing the material and spatial remains of the post-industrial city creates a shifting domestic condition guided by necessity. This survivalist architecture must address utilities (water, heat), security, varying climatic conditions, food storage, and mental comfort, always adapting itself according to what it has on hand. This method of design and the restriction of material palette removes the superficial from the work. It addresses economy and sustainability through adaptive reuse of material and space. It confuses social order through a new mode of living, looking to squatting and alternative lifestyles as inspiration. It challenges political bodies by acting as a form of protest to the current housing policies: demolition as a remedy to urban decay.