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Is this Brooklyn’s craziest crib? – Brooklyn Paper

Is this Brooklyn’s craziest crib?

Like her previous sustainability project, the Waterpod, Mary Mattingly’s “Flockhouse” is vaguely chicken coop-like.

Well, it’s certainly more inviting than an overpriced studio in Park Slope.

Mary Mattingly, the avant-garde eco-provocateur, has proposed what could be the most-bizarre abode in all of Brooklyn — a chicken-coop–styled unit that she wants to install atop the Metropolitan Exchange Building at 33 Flatbush Ave.

Mattingly, most famous for her Waterpod craft earlier this year, says her new “Air Ship Air City” has received the initial green light from the eclectic group of activists at the MEX building to construct the “sustainable living” and event space that will feature a chicken coop, a laboratory, and a sleeping area for an intrepid ecologist.

Though the living space — also known as a “flock house” — looks more appropriate for fowl than humans, the amenities, like a hanging garden, free eggs, no utility bills and something Mattingly refers to as “human nest outdoor couches” are definitely a plus.

Al Attara, the owner of the building, cautioned that he had yet to see the proposal and that he would have to make sure all building regulations were met before giving final approval to the project.

“Air Ship Air City” follows in the footsteps of Mattingly’s Waterpod, a barge that looked like it came from a poorly received Kevin Costner movie.

“This will be an evolution of Waterpod’s autonomous living system and event space,” Mattingly said, pointing out that many of the materials used in the barge would be recycled and put to use in the new structure.

And like the Waterpod, the conceptual sketches of the house-on-the-roof conjure images of a “Waterworld”-like environmental disaster, where desperate Brooklynites gather whatever scraps and flora they can to survive.

“I think it is interesting to associate this project with structures that are on stilts or are already elevated to relate to … sea level rise, but more than that, ‘Air Ship Air City’ can be an example of a housing add-on for the growing population of New York City,” Mattingly added.

The MEX Building is an ideal location for such an out-there idea. Inside the seven-story building, Attara has brought together numerous like-minded entrepreneurs who dedicate their time to coming up with more environmentally friendly solutions to the world’s woes.

Mattingly said in her proposal for “Air Ship Air City” that the space could eventually become entirely sustainable by harvesting kitchen compost from the building, harnessing energy from the sun and wind and even implementing a “system that turns waste into energy.”

Currently on the roof of the MEX building is a prototype of a “Fab Tree Hab” — literally a tree house that could (theoretically!) provide a comfortable living space for a family.

That concept was designed by Dr. Mitchell Joachim of Terreform One, another group of thinkers that envisions a future where a brownstone on Prospect Park West won’t be worth a damn.

Mattingly cautioned that the “Air Ship Air City” project is only in the earliest stages and that many of its aspects will change.

Still, bargain hunters beware, if all goes as planned the cheapest and strangest house in all of Brooklyn looks to be going up sometime in spring 2010 with occupancy in June.

Mary Mattingly’s new sustainable apartment unit, called “Flockhouse,” is slated to be built atop this Flatbush Avenue building.
The Brooklyn Paper / Mike Short

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