Some works of architectural writing can be taken at face value as stark manifestos for a new aesthetic. Keith Krumwiede’s Atlas of Another America is, instead, a constantly unfurling satire that offers layers upon layers of artfully imagined social commentary. Like McMansion Hell, my own long-form satirical project, Krumwiede’s “architectural fiction” sends up American ideas about economics, politics, and culture by picking apart our outrageous suburban housing types. The project will be on display at the Chicago Architecture Biennial this fall, delivering a sardonic vision of American architecture that comes out of academic theory, but has a potent message for anyone who has spent time in suburbia.
Krumwiede’s book parodies the form of an 18th century treatise in order to propose a tongue-in-cheek vision for the suburban landscape of the United States after the 2008 financial crisis. Named Freedomland, this new utopia borrows town planning ideas from Thomas Jefferson’s plan for parceling the nation’s land in a grid system—the idea that created the patchwork of farms, streets, and small towns recognizable today.