The return of the floating McMansion critique in Miami

I missed this the first time around in 2005 but it has returned to Miami: the “Inflatable Villa” continues to critique McMansions though it will no longer floating:

Seven years ago, Miami-based architect Luis Pons unveiled the “Fabulous Floating Inflatable Villa” at Art Basel 2005. Floating proudly offshore in Miami, the over-the-top, gargantuan inflated pavilion aimed to critique the McMansion culture of the day, arguing that the real estate bubble had caused Miamians to lose sight of detail and quality in the wake of blind excess and uninspired grandeur.

How things have changed in the real estate world in seven short years. Using the recession as inspiration, Pons will re-introduce The Inflatable Villa to Basel for the first time this year in a entirely new context.

“It’s the same piece, but the meaning has completely changed,” explained Pons. “It’s an analogy to represent the disparity between where we were in 2005 and where we are today.”

The structure will be placed in a vacant lot in the Design District, a site which was intended to be developed until the bursting real estate bubble of 2008 halted the project. The villa, only partially inflated, will be placed within rigid metal bar columns that were part of the original construction site, its fragility a tangible analogy to the rigid metal structure encasing it.

Perhaps it is less of a critique today and more of a triumphal return or a triumphal critique. To many, Pons was right in 2005; the McMansion simply couldn’t last, either financially or architecturally. Housing data in Miami would seem to support this changed perspective of the “Fabulous Floating Inflatable Villa.” Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows “privately owned housing starts” were up quite a bit in 2005 and reached a reached a low in 2009. Miami was also hit hard by foreclosures during the economic crisis and foreclosure rates have still been high in recent years:

The rate of foreclosures in the greater Miami area declined in August to 16.42 percent of outstanding mortgages from 18.14 a year earlier, according to CoreLogic. The foreclosure rate is the percentage of mortgages in some stage of the foreclosure process.

The data firm said the rate of mortgages with delinquencies of 90 days or more in the Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall area also fell in August to 22.89 percent from 25.45 percent a year earlier.

Despite the continuing downward trend, Miami’s foreclosure rate in August remained far higher than the national rate of 3.35 percent of outstanding mortgages, the firm said. The area’s mortgage-delinquency rate was also far higher than the national average of 6.76 percent in August, CoreLogic said.

I wonder if this suggests that while McMansion construction may be down in the United States compared to a peak 6-8 years ago, the market for art critiquing McMansions hasn’t yet peaked.

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