‘Blockbuster’ Exhibit Imagines Increased Housing
Carl Smith wonders how continued population growth will make northwest Arkansas look in 40 years. In order to imagine it, he’s created an exhibition with thousands of tiny, wooden boxes.
Smith, assistant professor of landscape architecture, created this exhibit with Bethany Springer, assistant professor of art. Smith’s idea is rooted in an exhibition he saw by West 8, a renowned Dutch urban design and landscape architecture firm, which used tiny wooden houses to prompt discussion about the housing boom in the Netherlands.
He wondered if something similar would work for northwest Arkansas. The result is an interactive exhibition titled “Blockbuster: Imagining a Future Fabric for Northwest Arkansas.”
It’s easy to toss out numbers, like the 37,500 new homes expected in Fayetteville by 2050, or even the estimated 25,000 for Bentonville in that time.
“Those numbers don’t really mean that much unless you can demonstrate to people what that actually looks likes,” Smith said.
So those homes are represented by tiny wooden pieces, each approximately 1-inch long and a half-inch deep and tall. On a scale where an inch represents 45 feet, these wooden “homes” stand in for roughly 2,000-square-foot homes.
Smith, who’s from England, said that country covers about as many square miles as Arkansas, yet Arkansas has a population of just about 3 million compared to England’s 51 million.
“When you’ve got so much land, it’s difficult to perceive there being a problem,” he said. “I think that underscores a lot of the sprawl that’s occurred in the U.S.”