This installation grew from the hypothesis that in zero-gravity, one can rotate (in) architecture and treat all elevations as plans – i.e., walls, ceilings, and floors. Without gravity, all surfaces can be occupied. In essence, the distinctions between orthographic drawings become obsolete. To this end, the installation is a large, constantly rotating structure which visitors can approach and use differently every time.
The installation is inspired by a comic book Lai created to assert commentaries regarding the Broadacre City– a 1932 Frank Lloyd Wright vision of a Utopian city where each family own a one-acre agrarian plot and commutes by private automobile. Wright never really took into account that space and natural resources are limited. We witness such an impact today. Wealthier citizens have fled cities for sprawling suburban sub-divisions. Downtown cores are left to the poor, and cities are becoming increasingly ineffective in controlling energy consumption. Lai takes Broadacre City to outer space. He signifies the finite resources by flipping it on its side and making it an Ark. "It is a world where every man [gets] a dwelling unit and every man [gets] a pointlessly boring job… until the citizen dies.”
Phalanstery Module was designed by Jimenez Lai, a designer, a comic book author and currently is the LeFevre Fellow in the Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State University.