HOUSES FOR SALE: A Fun Children’s Book By MOS Architects
“All successful children’s literature has a conspiratorial element,” wrote John Updike in 1976. In keeping with that sentiment, a new illustrated book for children from Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample, the principals of MOS Architects, has the kids in cahoots with their parents, searching for the perfect house that — spoiler alert — turns out to be unattainable. Through the hefty 128-pages of Houses for Sale (a hardcover designed with the help of MOS’s longtime collaborator Studio Lin), a family of four journeys from house to house in their gray sedan, stopping to ponder famous residences from the architectural canon and offering subtly satirical criticisms along the way.
“Totalizing sticks and planes” describes Gerrit Rietveld’s 1924 Schröder-Schräder House; “a playful broken pediment” characterizes Robert Venturi’s 1964 Vanna Venturi House; while Louis Kahn’s Korman House (1973) is dismissed as an “oversized inglenook.” Dense digital illustrations of figures, animals, and landscaping accompany the sweeping romp, rendered in a poster-colored flattened perspective set against a strict anthracite background (even an issue of PIN–UP makes a cameo).
What emerges is something of a manual assessing the external aesthetic features of each house, an introductory 101 to the history of architecture for little ones. But Houses for Sale decidedly avoids debating the definition of what defines a desirable home: without even the slightest consideration of the interior spaces, the book seems to assert that true meaning resides in the imagination.