The A-Z 2001 Homestead Unit is the latest in a series of Living Units concerned with contemporary per- ceptions of freedom and personal liberation. It is also the first piece to be produced at A-Z (New) West, located in California's high desert. The design of the A-Z 2001 Homestead Unit is inspired by the tradition of homestead cabins in the desert region surrounding A-Z (New) West.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the government gave settlers five acres of land free if they could "improve" it by constructing a minimal structure. The original pioneer spirit of the frontier considered autonomy and self-sufficiency as prerequisites of personal freedom. At A-Z (New) West, we are investigating how such perceptions of freedom have been adapted for contemporary living. We believe that personal liberation is now achieved through individual attempts to "slip between the cracks." Instead of building big ranches and permanent homesteads, today's independence seekers prefer small, portable structures, which evade the regulatory control of bureaucracies, such as building and safety codes.
The A-Z 2001 Homestead Unit reflects the qualities that we feel create independence for the owner and user: compactness, adaptability, and transportability. Because the unit is less than 120 square feet, it is zoned as a "temporary structure" and does not require building permits. The entire unit breaks down into a series of panels and can be transported and erected by two people in only a few hours.