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ARCHITECTURE / Designs for extreme conditions

Academic design project 2011

The project’s objective was the creation of a residential “episode” for semi-permanent people – basic elements of the urban density.

Providing housing to such heterogeneous groups of people that “immigrate” from place to place – not in the context of alternative nomadism, but of social need – is the main goal that architectural design is challenged to achieve. An architectural design that becomes extreme, not to draw attention or to show off, but to cover the needs in question. So I chose to focus my project on the case of people left homeless either due to the economic crisis of that era and the social upheaval created because of this or due to war disasters, where cities where bombed and all housing forms where demolished. So, many people and even families were left homeless either because they were unable to cope with the expenses of their daily life or because of the totalitarian disasters.

Therefore this proposal concerns homeless people who want a decent place to stay and are willing to protect and take care of it. This project can be carried out in socially dead areas, like abandoned/destroyed buildings, uncovered open spaces between buildings, subways or beneath bridges.

So the project is about a foldable individual ‘chamber’ which is converted to a backpack. Each chamber may be made of inflatable membranes or 3m tetrapak (juice packaging material). It is perforated allowing adequate ventilation while the ends are sealed with laminated zippers. Throughout the folding edges of the backpack there are rubbers or plastic neurons in order to reinforce strength and flexibility. The homeless can catalyze in it at night, fold it together and continue their activities the morning after.

I put also under consideration the “extreme” circumstance, under which a whole family is left homeless and still in this case they would like to maintain their unity. So we are providing metal frames on the previously mentioned socially dead places, ready to be filled with surfaces of bags in order to create a larger private space. In this case the backpack – cocoon can be hung as a covered hammock for a person and even reach the point where the total amount of these offset backpack’s surfaces will cover the whole surface of the metal structure. If the family wants to catalyze longer the gaps between the metal structure can be complemented with boxes or pressurized cans in plywood form (as an extension of the garbage collection they possibly do).

The skeleton has a complex form with many edges in order to reflect the difficulties people have to face throughout their lives, though the use it offers is fully optimistic and encouraging to reach a brighter future with hard work and persistence. There are also climbing plants growing up on the main skeleton as a symbol of the life recovered and rebuilt.