Kanye West Plans to ‘Break Class Barriers’ with Architecture


The first images of Kayne West’s prefabricated village of domed structures intended for low-income housing have been leaked.

Construction is under way on the austere prototypes in the ultra-privileged Calabasas neighbourhood in Los Angeles, with celebrity rag TMZ releasing images on Wednesday.

This publication has covered Kanye’s various forays into the architecture and social housing — from the debut of West’s architecture firm “Yeezy home” to news of the firm’s first social housing project and West’s real estate development aspirations.

The musician has said that he planned to “develop cities” and, according to TMZ, break the barriers that separate classes, “namely, the rich, the middle class and the poor”.

West’s Calabasas plans were first revealed in an interview with Forbes, which reported that West and his team were working on creating a series of prefabricated structures to be used as “living spaces for the homeless”.

West said the austere aesthetic of the domes was inspired by the fictional desert planet home of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars series.

The same Star Wars-inspired dome design created a furore at Coachella festival last year after festival organisers refused West’s request to build a domed structure for his performance — causing the musician to promptly withdraw from his headline slot.

▲ New images released by TMZ show construction crews hard at work on the domed structures. Source: TMZ.
▲ New images released by TMZ show construction crews hard at work on the domed structures. Source: TMZ.

Plans for the 300-acre plot of land West acquired a few years back has been well-guarded, but the release of new images show construction crews working on the domed structures, which each structure standing about 15 metres high.

Professor of urban design at Lancaster University Nick Dunn said that it isn’t immediately clear how the competing forces of real estate, fame and social concerns could be leveraged to create affordable housing.

“For this particular entanglement of social housing and celebrity endorsement, the future of the Yeezy Home project looks likely to aid and abet gentrification processes, not resolve them.

“By designing for — rather than with — people, ignoring important social and urban developments and assuming the role of great benefactor, West would enter the history books — but not as a pioneer for social good or innovative design.

“Instead he would join an already crowded history of urban developers who designed black people out of the landscape.”

Kayne isn’t the first celebrity to show an interest in architecture. Hollywood actor Brad Pitt established a foundation for the construction of new homes in New Orleans while Australian comedian Tim Ross — appearing at the Urbanity conference for those who are interested — has advocated for the protection of some of Australia’s great modernist icons.

In any case, the details of West’s plans to “revolutionise housing” remain closely guarded, TMZ reports that the musician and his team are studying dwellings from “every period of man’s existence on earth”.

“Our Kayne sources say the project is in an ‘early state’ but the vibe is there[...]to make new housing communities the world can enjoy.”

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