The House of Words'project (HoW) is inspired by the traditional meeting places – sheds or shaded spaces – found in many African societies, used by communities for dialogue and exchange. It consists of two parts: an architectural structure, designed by Recetas Urbanas and built through a collective process, and an experience activated by Loulou Cherinet, aiming for offer to individuals and communities the opportunity to appropriate this space and engage in a process of debate and creation.
The architectural proposal resulting consists of a “prosthesis pavilion” that is attached to Rödasten Konsthall, as part of the Gothenburg International Biennial of Contemporary Arts, built with second hand materials from previous projects of Recetas Urbanas, shipped from Spain in a maritim container and bought in a municipal reusing station.
This very gesture started with the methodology in which HoW has been conceived and then constructed: bottom-up by professionals, volunteers, and instructors from local communities working together a month before the biennial’s official opening. A key starting point is the previous experience, based on developing subversive projects breaking the academic logic and the planning mechanisms.
So, we take the excuse of self-building, to continue producing an architecture that encourages dialogue and to bring this African Parliament space model to a society of the "first world" where community collective empowerment processes are not as common. We remind again that the architectural production gets the most human expression when is mixed in the process design, construction and conviviality changing the logic of the finished product, "turnkey" or the bored separation between the architect, the builder and the user.
Evaluation and Protocols
The philosophy of the process is a self-building method based on learning by sharing, teamwork and community. More than 70 people from all walks of life took part in this process during four weeks, exchanging skills, discussing the design and purposes of the building, and helping each other along the way.
Good music, good food, and a sense of celebration have been prioritized throughout HoW’s building process as much as proper footwear, safety, and finding the right job for everyone who wants to be a part of the team ; in other words, a sort of constructive democracy.
Budgets and Resources
© Haroun Hajem / Ricard Estay – Statens konstråd, 2015
Project Data Sheet
“Arkitektur är en politisk handling”, KLINBERG, Elisabeth en arkitekten. nº10, p.38-42, Estocolmo, Suecia, 2015. [ISSN 0347-058X]
“Arquitectura Colaborativa”, NOVO, Laura en Diseño Interior nº278, p.42-44, Madrid, España, 2016.