raumlaborberlin:4562 Enright Avenue
What does a house represent, and how does it reflect our lives, desires, and dreams?
These questions are more urgent than ever in the City of St. Louis, which has experienced a residential decline of over 60% since its peak population in the 1950s. Vacant properties have become a persistent feature of the urban landscape, and over 7,000 buildings—mostly homes—are currently designated as unsafe and fated for demolition.
The Pulitzer has commissioned Berlin-based architecture collective raumlaborberlin to create a work that responds to the conditions in St. Louis and reimagines uses for these buildings and their assets. Working closely with neighborhood residents and other key figures in urban planning and organizing, raumlaborberlin will salvage materials from a house fated for demolition and create an installation in the Pulitzer’s main gallery that reflects the house’s historical past, tenuous present, and speculative future.
Working at the intersection of architecture, city planning, art, and urban intervention, raumlaborberlin creates projects in public space that investigate strategies for urban renewal. This is their first major museum commission in the United States.
This exhibition would not be possible without the city officials and other experts who shared their knowledge and skills, especially: the neighbors on 4500 and 4600 block of Enright; Lewis Place Historical Preservation, Inc.; Lewis Place Improvement Association; Terry Kennedy, Ward 18 Alderman; St. Louis City Building Division; St. Louis Development Corporation - Land Reutilization Authority; Z & L Wrecking Company; Refab; Century Brick; American Timber and Salvage; and the Preservation Research Office. We also extend our gratitude to the creative collaborators who will be taking part in a series of public programs—the neighbors, historians, artists, planners, and city officials who will together explore strategies for addressing vacancy, urban planning, and public policy in St. Louis and beyond.
Kristin Fleischmann Brewer
At the opening of this exhibition, a house exists simultaneously at 4562 Enright Avenue, in St. Louis, where it was built over a century ago, and in the main gallery of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, where it is being reimagined and repurposed by German architecture collective raumlaborberlin. While the brick exterior of the long-abandoned house remains at the original address, its beams, windows, doors, and other materials have been salvaged, with many of them being used to create a mirror site at the Pulitzer—a two-story skeletal structure that evokes the building’s frame and interior. This structure occupies an area identical in size to that of the original house, but its interior disrupts expectations. Staircases lead to a nonexistent second floor, and walls are supplanted by studs fitted with salvaged architectural elements; objects and documents of the house’s past and present are combined with speculations for the future. By the close of the exhibition, what is left of the original Enright Avenue house will have been completely dismantled, its materials destined to be repurposed for future construction. [...]
A city is not only a place, but also a point in time; its physical appearance endures variation and revision, as its generations of citizens experience spatial, social, cultural, and economic flux. Raumlabor believes that the future of our cities must be co-authored and shaped by a vision that allows for differences between stakeholders. What does a home represent, and how does it reflect our lives and dreams? How do we equitably re-envision the landscape of post-industrial American cities? How do we disrupt a system that favors economic efficiency over community? 4562 Enright Avenue frames these questions through the reimagining of a home—one private dwelling transformed into a place to project memories, to cultivate an openness toward something new, and to hold a collective space for imagining. (Please click here to read the complete essay.)