Jennifer Bonner

Domestic Hats

Domestic Hats is an installation by Jennifer Bonner that explores ordinary roof typologies and rethinks the role of the massing model in architectural representation.

A drive through neighborhoods across America demonstrates stylistic differences in the domestic architecture. It is arguable, however, that the single most common element of the single-family home is the roof. Whether located in Ann Arbor, Albuquerque, or Atlanta, shared structures crisscross national geographies and neighborhood boundaries. Ordinary and simplistic, yet highly repetitive, gable and hip roofs dominate the scene, while butterfly and mansard roofs represent a more rare species. Dormers, A-frames, and shed roofs are combined to make a complex system of functional envelopes with countless variations. These “copy-and-paste” forms not only populate the housing stock, but also represent house figures and house shapes widely accepted by the public.

Domestic Hats rejects the constraint of smallness. For these purposes, the massing models are scaled up to an awkward size, they are not easily transportable, and they don't quite fit in the frame of our foam wire cutter. The massing models included in the installation are not large enough to be considered a pavilion, nor do they sit comfortably on a client’s conference room table. Intentionally inflated, these massing models merely represent themselves. No longer a representational stand-in for something else, they reveal new “hats” for consideration in domestic architecture.

About The Designer

Jennifer Bonner is an Assistant Professor at the Harvard GSD and Director of Studio Bonner. She is the creator of "A Guide to the Dirty South," a series of guidebooks that closely looks at cities otherwise deemed “backwoods” for a lack of architectural heritage and recalls architectural typologies distinctly born in the American South. Forthcoming titles include: Atlanta, New Orleans, and Miami. Her scholarly and design work has been exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and most recently at the Istanbul Design Biennial. A graduate of the Harvard GSD and Auburn University’s Rural Studio, her work received the James Templeton Kelley Prize and an AR Award for Emerging Architecture.