The Rat House

Horrible rats and all the terrors of childhood. The cellar one goes down into with a candle.
—Georges Bataille, [Dream], Visions of Excess

An Archigram nightmare
Ricardo Portilho Mattos

The Rat House [World] is a live view inside an exposed, wood stud, wet, and rat-infested wall. It is as well a provocation on our preconceived notions of architecture through the very walls they are built with. This World distorts how we see the walls around us. In this imagined world, the walls have become: distorted material layers, re-appropriated productive systems, and unidentified voids. At a time in many architectural discourses where cleanliness and righteousness are the utmost priority for spatial enlightenment, this World is dissociated.


The Energy Generation Machine

Elevation Animation

Elevation Animation (HD)

(Based on) A Dream

I awoke one night to discover I had scratched my skin raw.

Tomorrow I should check out my skin. (Why did I scratch myself?) I’m pretty sure that I’m not going crazy - who really knows? - but, that didn’t seem to be the case this morning.

The walls breathed life. Life I had never understood before tonight. Sometimes I would imagine the walls to be full of desire, like part of my soul had seeped through the plaster. What did I gain by living here? The apartment was old, dirty, and reeked. Most people would leave this place immediately, but I loved it. The apartment was cheap, and it was split into two separate halves, exiting onto the same hallway. I lived on one side and I worked on the other. No one could bother me here. I was a strong kid, but I had weakened here because of the walls. Walls could do that to a man.

We are born between vaginal walls, we live most of our lives between studded walls, and we are buried between dirt or metal walls. Walls can make the man. I knew this all too well from the sterile apartments friends of mine had. But they had no effect on me. Then again the last place I lived had burned to the ground one night because of old electrical wiring - I watched from outside, as part of myself and all of my belongings were slowly disappearing. I couldn’t believe the smell of the gypsum and wood. Walls can effect you more than you might believe.

I had lived up to what I expected. It was just my thought of more, a little bit more that drove me over the edge. Sometimes the walls speak, and they let you know how they feel. Well, tonight I could not take it anymore. Tonight was different. There were many weird mechanical, organic, sounds seeping through the walls. I couldn’t believe the sounds. Wheels were turning, buzzers were whizzing, weird scratching and gnawing. They were all muffled though so I couldn’t quite detect their locations.

I needed to get inside these walls. I wasn’t worried about the itches all over my body, I was just worried about what I would find. I took the ripper to the wall, I had had enough. The amusement park was the first thing I found. When I ripped open the walls I knew I had gone too far. I had corrupted this new world. This was the world of the rats. They knew I was there, at least they looked up at me in likewise horror. They surely wondered what I was doing there.

I had entered the kingdom of rats. I was one of them for a second. Maybe. They had let me into their world. Maybe. Their amusement was my fix. And then their whole world opened up for me. The rats weren’t but a part of the wall, they were the wall itself. They had found a way into the wall. They were the architects of the wall. The wall was full with rats. Rats were more prevalent than anything I had ever seen. They had sleeping rooms and eating rooms. They had everything. They had places to make nice with one another and places to make hate with one another. The rats had been exposed by me, and I had been their captor. I had put them in this place. And I felt guilt. The guilt of a thousand miles. I felt awful.

At last, I awoke -

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