A SENSE OF HOME
The interspace as opportunity to improve social networks for the homeless
This project started with a fascination by the concept of ‘feeling at home’. How does that work for homeless who don’t have a physical space to call home?
To me, my role as an architect is to put social issues on the agenda and investigate spatial circular solutions. Even in our modern society, homelessness is on the rise. The government is failing in both prevention and reintegration. For as long as the urgency on a state level isn’t high enough, bottom-up alternatives must be found.
But what do homeless actually need?
To investigate this, I went undercover as a homeless for a week. I learned that homelessness has many different faces. One of the main insights was that homeless feel at home in their neighborhoods, but the basic rooms in their ‘home’, the living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, are scattered across the city. To meet their daily needs they often have to travel far, causing a lot of stress and anxiety. There are plenty of unused spaces in the city where we could facilitate small scaled interventions. I used two of these spaces to build rooms in the neighborhoods where it was needed the most. A kitchen on the Dappermarkt called the Dapperkeuken and a bedroom in the Jordaan called the Bedsteeg.
As a base, waste and flows were used to form these rooms. The Dapperkeuken was formed by harvesting waste from the market vendors to prepare meals. The Bedsteeg is made from collected waste cardboard that has been pressed and treated as a new modular building material. I did these experiments together with my family and friends. When people come together with a shared purpose, it revolves around a virtuous act and creates a contagious connection. The neighborhoods initially had their doubts about the project, but throughout the process they became involved and part of it.
The role of an architect and architecture is a big discussion nowadays. This project shows that architecture is much more than just a building itself. If you listen, look and collaborate, architecture is not a goal but it can be a social connecting element.
Graduation committee: Machiel Spaan (mentor), Lada Hršak and Merijn de Jong. Additional members for the exam: Winfried van Zeeland and Albert Herder.
A documentary was made in collaboration with students from the Netherlands Film Academy. The film tells the story about street life, the needs of homeless and the role of architecture in the left-over spaces in the city of Amsterdam.
Directors: Patrick Roegiers & Mey Rahimi. D.O.P.: Lidewei Egbers, editors: Patrick Roegiers & Richelle van Loon, sound: Zita Leemans.