The Work-Stay: New York

Luísa Sol Confronts Suburban Utopia

Portuguese architect and researcher Luísa Sol and her mentor, architect Tatiana Bilbao, spent a week in New York together as part of their work-stay.

There was a lot on their agenda. Sol presented her Forecast project Architectures of Inclusion and Exclusion to Bilbao’s students at the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven. Together with Forecast’s Artistic Director Freo Majer, they held a public event at the Goethe-Institut in New York City. Then there was a visit to Forest Hills, an early twentieth-century suburban neighborhood in New York City, and to Levittown, a prototypical postwar mass-produced suburb on nearby Long Island—both are exemplary to the concept Sol is exploring in her work.

Tatiana Bilbao and Luísa Sol in conversation with Dolores Hayden. Photo ©Freo Majer
Luísa Sol at Yale School of Architecture. Photo: Emil Benjamin
Luísa Sol at Yale School of Architecture. Photo: Emil Benjamin

Sol and Bilbao also conducted a series of interviews, including with architecture photographer Iwan Baan; Dolores Hayden, an urban historian specializing in the study of suburban America, whose special focus is the relation between gender and space; and Anna Puigjaner, an architect and theorist exploring kitchenless housing typologies. “All these interviews have enlightened me and opened up new points of view that I had not been aware of,” says Sol. One of the new critical observations that will be funneled into the work presented at the Forecast Festival concerns the representations of the kitchen: “…how it can be a place that potentiates invisibilities on the one hand, but also a place that displays logics of sharing, empowerment, and collective care,” she explains. 

The dichotomy and distance between the domestic realm—with the invisible labor contained within—and the realm of corporate labor performed in Manhattan’s skyscrapers becomes crucially obvious when confronting it in person, rather than seeing images of it. “More than representations,” Sol says, “architecture functions as the most basic and symbolic element of these discrepancies. This dichotomy will be (even more) present in the Forecast Festival collage.”

Video: Emil Benjamin, Editing: Hannah Dörr, Sound Mix: Simon Peter. ©Forecast 2022

The work-stay was supported by the Goethe-Institut New York and took place in collaboration with Goethe-Institut New York and Yale School of Architecture.