OFFGRID, the architecture of a barter economy
The 2008 international economic crisis has left lingering doubts about the ability of our conventional banking system to offer financial security. We might look back to the fundamental principles of commodity trading, where money itself did not always change hands for the purchase of goods and currency is kept close.
The vendors of the Venice Boardwalk have an alternative off-grid existence, not beholden to typical corporate concerns; in direct counterpoint to the enclosed, permanent, secured and credit card-enabled retail strip on the land side of the boardwalk, once trading time is over there is little evidence of the street sellers on the beach side who set up and ‘take down’ daily. The vendors themselves are characterized by their transitory nature, some being only seasonal residents, many in need of rehabilitation from alcohol or drug abuse, but united in an apparent desire to exist outside of established cultural orthodoxies.
Seen as an extension of the vendor’s trading cart, a kit of parts is proposed that enables additional housing of this community’s needs: places to create and store their handcrafter wares, a vault for their takings and sleeping spaces that are quick to put up and easy to remove when the time comes to move on.
This architecture of the moment is opportunistic in its quest for available land, materials and methods of construction.
Project: OFFGRID, the architecture of a barter economy: Street Vendors Co-operative, Venice Beach CA.