Images have leaked of the Star Wars-inspired structures artist Kanye West is developing to meet low-income housing needs.
Sitting on a 300-acre property West owns in the hills of Calabasas, California, the project was first announced as part of a feature profile in Forbes last month. It wasn't until last week however, when celebrity gossip site TMZ released photos of prototypes under construction, that the public received its first glimpse.
West's goal is to found a housing community that seeks to break down class boarders through the implementation of innovative architecture. Considering Calabasas has increasingly become home to a cavalcade of American celebrities, it seems an ideal location for a social experiment of this kind.
Yeezy Home - the architectural arm of West's Yeezy brand - is leading the project, which is said to have been founded on research of dwellings "from every period of man's existence on Earth". West has suggested the structures will be sunk into the ground, with lightwells in the top providing natural illumination.
The design seems both sensible and feasible, but West's intent has been criticised by industry experts, including Lancaster Univerity's Professor of Urban Design, Nick Dunn. In an article penned for The Conversation, Dunn questioned whether West could keep his ego in check and ensure his actions, not just his words, align with the needs of the community.
"By designing for – rather than with – people, ignoring important social and urban developments and assuming the role of great benefactor, West would enter the history books – but not as a pioneer for social good or innovative design. Instead, he would join an already crowded history of urban developers who designed black people out of the landscape."
There's no denying West has a tendency to take his ideas to outrageous levels, yet his intent is clear. As is his love of architecture. In 2013, West visited the Harvard School of Design, stood on a desk, and announced, “I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be 'architected.' I believe that utopia is actually possible — but we're led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political".
Whatever the result of West's Calabasas project, the low-income housing sector is desperate for innovation. In Australia, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute says construction rates will need to triple over the next two decades in order to keep up with demand.
Images: Kanye West's Low Income Housing © TMZ.com