Shane Reiner-Roth is a writer and co-founder of Tall Work (Instrumental Plausibility). Through publications, exhibitions and speculative projects, his work examines the means by which certain objects appeal to an economy of expression by communicating higher values than their own on the cheap. He is currently a research fellow at the MIT department of architecture.

Becoming Upside-Down

Becoming Upside-Down

Featured in Dear Architecture
Winter 2016
Pages 13-14
With Kyle Branchesi

Dear Architecture,

I write this to inform you that you're stuck. Or, rather, that you appear to be stuck.

You must feel painted into your own corner, and perhaps we're to blame. Because you're so assuredly sunk in the ground, with your plumbing twisted in a knot; because heaven forbid the moment you're confusing you might cause some missed flights; because every component of your being is ossified, codified, and standardized by things you've never even heard of.

You're nothing more now than a mailbox for the mailman, a quick buck for the toupéed, and storage for the rest. What used to be your best qualities have been systematically targeted to fade away, and the only thing that remains is a private way of thinking about you: wistfully, in the past, and no longer now.

The purpose of this letter is to ask you a question: have you considered the benefits of becoming upside-down? It could turn your whole life around.

Before I sell you on the concept, you should know what becoming upside-down involves: your chimneys squirm in rotation, the depths of your awnings approach zero to gain mass on the other side, your windows push and squeak past each other for a spot in the limelight, and your roofs multiply infinitesimally to clear a path for clean slates.

Your initial resistance towards loosening up would be understandable. After all, the act is not about satisfying any stylistic concern, and it’s certainly not about the proper relationship between anything and anything else. From your end, this must sound unpleasant, and like a rather intense exercise.

But you have to remember that this is not the first time your motives have been undermined. In your experience, each new obstacle has birthed a uniquely indomitable solution. Right now you might feel safe with all the codes and regulations, but I think you'll come to prefer the sway of unchartered waters in due time.

Becoming upside-down is a great opportunity to have your eaves and treads newly considered; to forcibly push your best qualities back to the center of conversation. While your elements churn and do whatever else they may, they'll grind to a halt at each moment to be read for the readers. In the odyssey from double doors to single chimney, for instance - a monumental task by anyone’s measure - you’ll soon regain the audience you had lost for longer than we can both recall.

I grew up believing that Architecture is everything, but now I’d like to see you prove it. With your commitment, you could be the one at long last to recede into the bending landscape and over the horizon line. Why should it not be your turn to escape geometry by a fugitive mobility?

I implore you to consider the many benefits of becoming upside-down; and given the contemplative solitude you're afforded while tied to the ground, I'll permit you some time to sleep on it.

Till then,

Your confidant


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