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"I CONDO NY"      

Jana Leo & Simon Lund

A document of a dramatic transformation in New York City by Simon Lund
An inquiry on Love, Architecture and Ownership by Jana Leo

New York-Madrid 2007-09
Published by Espacio Ciudad Vitoria, Spain 2011.
To see the full book as a PDF, click here

The Condominium or "condo" is the icon of the couple. Love in a couple. The young and successful, financially and romantically, live in a condo. The "condom" used as a primitive birth control method and since the AIDS crisis, is used also for protection against sexual diseases. The "condo" is the equivalent to the "condom" scaled up to the size of your life.  The condom keeps the sexual fluids under control, the condo houses the couple.

..Although a condo is a form of ownership, due to its popularity, colloquially it is identified with a type of building: newly constructed, luxurious-tacky, a high-rise with views, often on the edge of the city or riverside, and often prominent by its glossy surface.. The elegance of the co-op apartment is meant to be passed without being perceived.  In contrast, the Condo (an urban complement to that icon of home, the suburban single family house) tries to give a visual image to the dream of an apartment. In a condo, a lot of architectural effort goes into representation.

.The transformation of "I love New York" into "I condo New York" reflects a cynical form of disbelief. For some people to love something is to conquer it. New York is dominated by developers who build icons rather than homes. For a house to be home, it must be easy to leave and easy to return to. If the house were to empower a person, providing both freedom and roots and not just as a convenient image of freedom and roots, then the regulations for constructing and trading real estate would strongly prioritize values such as attachment and mobility over profit. On a practical level, if the house were considered a real vehicle for a dream it wouldn't be treated as just another product exchangeable by the laws of the market. The house is in fact a priority product in the economy, for developers, for contractors and for real estate agents.

.Withdraw. Condos are a very common form of property used as resorts for retired people who don't want to be bothered to put any work into the house (or to take care of any "stuff"). The fact that they began for the retired couples and have been extended to the general population, but especially to young couples, suggests a young couple inhabiting a condo may, in reality, already be retiring from life.

.The condo is sold as a leisure spot for the couple, but in reality the amenities assist the containment. The condo offers the means for a couple to be contained in the same building; the amenities - gym, pool, yoga classes and lounge - in reality are trying to keep the residents from going out. The condo is convenient and safe; the beloved other is available there without the hassle of looking for sex outside or being exposed to risky affairs. Any intense relationship with somebody outside the couple, might act as disequilibrium of the economical, emotional and sexual behavior of the couple. The current adoration of the couple is a response to the trauma of AIDS. The condo acts as an assistant in the couple's life, discouraging the natural impulse for people to meet others and to create strong attachments with them.