Villa 2012 is architect and designer Luis Pons’ commentary on the human reaction to shock, our inherent vulnerability, and the tenacity of the human spirit. It is a follow-up to his visionary Fabulous Floating Inflatable Villa of 2005, which was a sharp critique of society’s collective delusion of grandeur during the pre-2008 real estate boom.

The Fabulous Floating Inflatable Villa, which floated on a barge in Biscayne Bay, was a 30x30x20-foot imitation of a Palladian villa. Fabricated from inflated plastic and illuminated from within, its overblown, cartoonish profile mimicked the grotesque pseudo-Palladian McMansions of the housing bubble era.

In contrast, Villa 2012 has transformed from a robust organism floating in the vastness of Biscayne Bay into a humble organism compressed into a small space, unable to escape.

Villa 2012 is caught within the rough and spiky steel of rebar columns protruding from an abandoned construction site in Miami’s Design District. It represents the moment of impact when the financial crash of 2008 imposed new constraints and challenged our delusions of grandeur. 

The fantastical McMansion is now in a precarious position, struggling for air, its fragile inflated state imminently in danger of being punctured and deflated. The generator that inflates it acts as a respirator that mimics the rhythm of breathing, which is itself a metaphor for inflation and deflation. 

“Villa 2012 appears vulnerable and exposed, says Luis Pons. “Unlike the 2005 villa, which was metaphorically holding its breath, it reflects every person’s natural state – the simple act of breathing. And that is deeply human and ultimately hopeful."