John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A house hanging from a crane in Germany suggests grievous operator error.
To live in Karlsruhe must be to constantly drift in a fog of disorientation. Thanks to a vibrant arts scene, the German city is stocked with strange, reality-bending objects—a cloud inside a building, a truck whose hindquarters are raised like a bucking bronco, and now an entire house hanging from a crane, perhaps the victim of a drunk construction worker.
The domicile is suspended above a market square and has a thicket of roots jutting from its base, suggesting it was violently yanked from the land. It is, of course, a manufactured accident—"Pulled by the Roots," by Argentina’s Leandro Erlich. (You might recall his other work in London, which had people seemingly Spidey-crawling across a house’s facade.)
Below the sculpture is a real construction site for an underground train. According to Dezeen, Erlich’s piece is meant to “challenge the residents' perception of the construction works as an ‘eyesore’ and to act as a reminder that ‘underneath the tons of metal and concrete of our cities, a vital organic presence remains.’” Here’s more from the ZKM Center for Art and Media:
Inspired by one of architect Friedrich Weinbrenner’s historical structures, the building, together with its massive root system, quite literally appears to be ripped out of a row of neighboring houses.
With this work, Erlich—well-known throughout the world for his hyperreal sculptures and installations—explicitly addresses global themes, such as uprooting, migration, or simulation. By drawing on the crane in the context of construction measures in Karlsruhe inner city, he utilizes a key civil engineering tool, thereby adding a provocative element which, in the first instance, makes one think that the crane driver has made a mistake.
The home’s roots will dangle in the wind until the piece is removed in September.