Surviving the Suburb


This installation, by Ton Matton, urban planner and designer, is an

exploration of the domestic urban dwelling of the future, one that

incorporates changes to global economics, urban lifestyle and climate


In the world of the welfare state and expensive housing developments

Ton Matton believes we have lost the art of independent thinking and

independent living. As western governments try and shed their social

responsibilities and the price of urban existence rises we can’t rely on

being looked after, so instead need to take care of ourselves. In making

connections between traditional countryside living and contemporary city

lifestyle his installations are thought-provoking and playful examples of

self-sufficiency and self-design which inspire us to move from urban

disempowerment to creating our own domestic and economic structures.

The exhibition includes installations such as two reading chairs – with

lamps – which act as a greenhouse for growing tomatoes inside the chair,

a Shiitake kitchen sink with a mushroom bed beneath, and other more

speculative ‘white goods’ of the future such as an urban “free range”

chicken house.

Matton draws inspiration from, amongst others, slum dwellings and village

life in the former East Germany, where he now lives. In both cases people

have worked flexibly and independently of large-scale urban developers

to build their own accommodation using available resources.


 Royal Institute of british Architects RIBA