Mary Mattingly's Flock House
Mary Mattingly’s Flock House, as it will look when installed on top of the MEX building.

From the New York Times blog “The Local.”

New York is a crowded city, both in terms of the number of people who live here, and in its physical footprint. Our apartment towers and skyscrapers press against the water line and, in some cases, are built over original boundaries of the harbor and its estuaries (hello, Battery Park City). If climate change causes the oceans to rise in the manner some currently predict, the local real-estate market is in for an even tighter squeeze. Brooklyn-based artist Mary Mattingly is building for that future today.

Last summer, she constructed a self-sustaining, floating dwelling called the Waterpod that docked at various locations throughout the city from Sheepshead Bay to the far reaches of Queens. This summer, Mattingly will take her ideas to land with a project called Flock House—a modular, transportable living space designed to perch on top of existing buildings.

A prototype of the Flock House is currently taking shape as part of Smack Mellon Gallery‘s show Condensations of the Social, which runs from June 19 to August 1. For the first two weeks of the show, Mattingly will occupy the living space, followed by a rotating schedule of residents who will continue to develop and improve the way it functions.

Mattingly said that Flock House was designed both in response to the threat of rising sea levels and as a way to call attention to the thousands of unique and underutilized New York City roofs. She said that her project allows visitors to grasp environmental change and our interdependence with nature in a physical way. She hopes it might inspire people to consider changes they can make in their own lives. Mattingly said she thinks of the experience as like being in “a parallel city, largely away from the street level of smog and heavily relied-upon infrastructure.”

At the end of the show, Flock House will be lifted to the rooftop of the MEX building at the edge of Fort Greene and be incorporated—in a slightly modified form—into a larger installation that Mattingly calls Air Ship Air City. The installation will expand on the self-contained system of the Waterpod, incorporating hydroponic gardens, chickens for fresh eggs, alternative sources of energy such as wind and bike power, and rainwater and greywater processing.

Edited by Mitchell Trinka

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