Saturday, May 31, 2008

use of useless.

This fantastic work of space was an immediate inspiration of emotions and questions at first sight. Among the emotions, jealousy, of the young Belgian architectural firm duo that not only designed this (what to call it?), but get to work and live in it.

Once the first images came into focus and it's initial resemblence to the Zurich FREITAG Store fleeted, so appeared the realization of how wonderful the spacial transformation of useless to useful is here. A space, like so many similar in every city in the world, that almost certainly smelled like urine and had never seen colored light from anything but reflections from amber and green broken beer bottle fragments, had been transformed into something desirably livable (by some, at least). The story the designers of this space tell, is how irregularity of a site does not determine it unusable, no matter how irregular, just that those unwilling to use it don't know how to do so. One could assume that no realistic discussion of using this gap took place by anyone other than the two adjacent buildings, until sculp(IT) came along.

So, what to call this? It isn't quite a building, it's more than just a space, it isn't an just an office or a home. In a way, one could say that the owners are squatting on a piece of property, that they own. It seems that there are no walls, only boundaries created from usurped exterior concrete walls that have kept a roof over their neighbor's heads for all of these years. Just paint them white and call them yours.

Somewhere exists a vagrant pipe-dream of modern minimalist squatting. Prefabricated sets of steel ledgers and length-adjustable joists are given away or sold for minimal cost, in a package with a fold up re-usable roof, all bundled together like a tent. After hours, a small alley way, a drive-thru, or even one of those tight places between to buildings. Wedge your roof structure between two solid objects and move everyone you know in for a night, or until the police make you tear down and vacate.

This type of creative land use could be adopted in many more areas, especially where land is scarce and of course a high-priced commodity. It always seems that irregular properties like this embolden creative programs and design in general. If the majority of eyesore or useless urban/suburban gaps were transformed into useful and beautiful filler like this, this blogger would hope that all architectural philistine eyes attracted to their presence would lead to a brain that thinks of architecture in a whole different way.

All Photography by Luc Roymans, plan image by Sculp(it) Architecten.

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