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Thumb screen shot 2019 05 13 at 12.41.12

Micro-Utopia: The Imaginary Potential of Home

Paula Strunden

A Virtual Reality experience in response to London's pressing housing crisis.


Developed as Masters Thesis undertaken at The Bartlett School of Architecture at the UCL in Unit 24, "Micro-Utopia: The Imaginary Potential of Home" is a location-based virtual reality experience by Paula Strunden.

Tutored by Penelope Haralambidou, Michael Tite and Keiichi Matsuda at Unit 24, Paula Strunden uses VR in response to the London's pressing housing crisis, proposing a shared, immersive and interactive version of a home, where space is born from the finely-tuned sensorial interplay between the body and virtual/physical objects connected to the Internet of Things. Here you can see a video documenting the location-based VR installation - a realized prototype of a hybrid home - that could be inhabited by visitors upon wearing a head-mounted display.

"Drawing on radical art practice, interiors in historical painting and contemporary product design, Micro-Utopia is the dream of a house that is nothing, but the parameters of our perception triggered through the metaphorical dimension of the objects we interact with on a daily basis", says Paula Strunden: "A chair invites us to stay with it for a moment; we crawl through a demanding fireplace; our hands are washed in a bowl of digital liquid - the highly speculative model of domesticity explores the architectural implication of co-inhabiting a minimal physical infrastructure within infinite highly bespoke virtual worlds".

As we recently saw in the "Angels Alone" by Sebastian Tiew, VR is now used to reinvent and rethink space, to give us possibilities we could never think of. Sebastian Tiew, notably, focused on prison experience as a way to rehabilitate prisoners, while giving them relief from the architecture they are forced into. Strunden, on the other hand, uses VR to expand space, to get around the housing crisis. Even if "Micro-utopia" is a VR installation based on real elements (the chair, the desk, etc), nevertheless, seen from this point of view, there is a clear bond between these two authors, both fighting constraints, creating micro-utopias for the underprivileged ones.

Will it be enough to rethink space in order to revolutionalize it? Housing crisis (or prison issues) should be addressed politically, so can VR help us getting new ideas, new ways to reinvent, rethink, regain space?

Authors icon Credits

Architect: Paula Strunden at Soft Bodies
Mentioned project: Micro-Utopia: The Imaginary Potential of Home (2018)
Project location: London, United Kingdom
Installation & VR Experience: Paula Strunden
Actress: Chandni Patel
Voice: Bodo Neuss
Music and sound effects: in collaboration with Kevin Pollard

United Kingdom 2018
Duration: 5'31"