MUTUO, Untitled. Photo by Stephen Ironside

Crystal Bridges Imagines the Future of Housing

Five firms have developed five full-scale prototypes at the Northwest Arkansas museum’s Architecture at Home exhibition, on view through November 7, 2022.

­­­Housing is a mess in Northwest Arkansas. The metropolitan area between the college town of Fayetteville, the buzzing art hub of Bentonville, and the bedroom communities of Rogers and Springdale are expected to double in size over the next two decades, and like many quickly growing urban areas across the country, there aren’t enough places to live.

Dylan Turk, who grew up in Little Rock and is the special projects editor of architecture and design at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, has been paying attention to the housing crisis since he was an art history major at the nearby University of Arkansas. He started working at Crystal Bridges as a docent during college and the museum hired him in 2014 to work on the relocation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House, which is now nestled in the rolling Ozark hills on the edge of downtown Bentonville.

Photo by Stephen Ironside
Fly’s Eye Dome by R. Buckminster Fuller. Photo by Stephen Ironside

In 2016 the museum acquired the Fly’s Eye Dome, an experimental home designed in 1965 by geodesic pioneer R. Buckminster Fuller, who imagined that, in the future, people would need affordable, low-energy homes that would help, “the world work, for 100 percent of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

While working on these two acquisitions, Turk started thinking about the role that the museum could play in pushing the conversation on housing equity and sustainable design for everyone—not just the families that can afford to hire an architect like Wright. Turk reached out to architects across North America to ask them what the future of housing might look like. Could they design 500-square-foot contemporary housing prototypes that addressed materiality, affordability, and design?

The architecture firms—the New York-based studioSUMO and LEVENBETTS, Los Angeles outfit MUTUO, Mexico City’s Perez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados, and studio:indigenous from Milwaukee—designed five structures that visitors can enter and explore to learn more about materials, scale, form, light and interaction with the landscape.

The exhibit, Architecture at Home, is open now through November 7. The prototypes are an exciting look into the architects’ creative processes while also shedding light on community stories from Northwest Arkansans about what it takes to make a house a home.

Would you like to comment on this article? Send your thoughts to: [email protected]

  • No tags selected