Foam House

Toronto, ON



Michael Fohring

University of Waterloo School of Architecture 

There is something special about a space that cannot be cared for in the way that we are accustomed to. We take our shoes off before entering a home. We put coasters and placemats on our tables. We keep, or actively place, plastic on our electronics. The project asks this: what if a space was intended for you to destroy it and for you to live amongst your destruction?

The project devalues a completed space that is pristinely preserved, clean and consistent, subsequently producing discomfort in those who have grown with discipline for making things last, as the space around them ceases to be absolute and is incessantly broken down. It explores the unit as something designed through subtraction with the self as the additive. The fragility of the material, foam, lends to this thesis. Its suggestibility allows for the exercise of this artful destruction.

A one-bedroom unit in an apartment building in Toronto’s Liberty Village was selected to test this idea. There was an establishment of fixed points within the unit; a stove, a sink, and a toilet. Once this container was established, stripped of its finishes, the foam is infilled to be an extension of the wall assembly—a hyper-insulated, cozy space.

The unit becomes an all-encompassing, ultra-customizable, constantly transforming space. It is carved out by the user in relation to their body, their needs and their time. Areas are excavated and cavities are carved for dwelling and encapsulation with respect to the tenant’s idea of space. Have guests? Hack out more room. Want to sit down while in the shower to contemplate the meaning of existence? Chisel away a seat and get to speculating. Made some impulsive retail purchases that push the physical limits of your closet? Dissect more room to accommodate your problematic habits. Enriched spaces are created for our form through engagement, treating the commonality of the orthogonal as reductive for the human figure. The foam, with all its mass, becomes both static and dynamic. It moves in flux with our limbs and merges with our skin. Embracement of the material chaos can provide an infinitely transformative space that is uniquely magical. It is alive and breathing.