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Garments for Spaces: An attempt to accommodate the child in the city

Part 2 Project 2002
Susanne Binder
Timothy O'Callaghan
London Metropolitan University, UK
In "Garments for Spaces" spaces are seen and interpreted as bodies which can be dressed, undressed, or disguised according to different needs within time.

The piece of clothing acts as mediator between the space and its inhabitants. It protects both the outline of the space, and the user, from wear and tear. The garment can be treated as a "life-style" indicator in the same way as people express their personalities by means of clothing, helping different user-groups to identify with the space they occupy. The dress becomes the building's 'software', a lightweight interior that can be owned by and carried with any inhabitant of (a) space.

On a micro-site within the public realm a garment was created for the interior space of a launderette. The magical dreamscape is designed to accommodate the child's movements as well as to plot a "remake" of the adults own childhood, therefore creating an understanding for the child's erratic behaviour. The hierarchy between adult and child is made uncertain. The garment "adjusts" the existing space, as well as the user, in altering or encouraging his movements within the space.

In the deprived community of Hounslow West a community centre is planned to be rebuilt and will be shared amongst several constituencies of opposing interest, ethnicity and age.

The building consists of a solid, sculptural, continuous 'space' or infrastructure on the site; a protective shell. Each user-group or constituency on the site is provided with a "pocket" within the building; these "pockets" may expand and contract on a temporary / timetabled basis by means of , for example, room dividing curtains.

This strategy is extended on an urban scale as pockets can be found throughout the urban landscape forming "hidden" spaces behind the residential street-views. These become potential sites for landscape/built interventions.

Susanne Binder
Timothy O'Callaghan

Garments for Spaces is an ambitious attempt to operate between the realm of the lived (social infrastructures) and the built.

An initial proposal for a launderette at a detail scale, speculated on the misuse of the space by a child. Prolific and speculative models identified surface, wear and tear and lining as material manifestations of use and occupation, and resulted in a beautifully crafted 1:1 proposition of a lining for the launderette.

The conceptual ambitions were brought to a site in Hounslow; the brief was real-life - a Surestart Community Building for Under-Fours combined with Youth Centre for teenagers. Susanne continued to speculate with models to develop a building strategy which addressed the varying needs of groups within the community through the use of expanding and contracting pockets .

Susanne found a highly personal and appropriate means of making propositions which address issues of the community. Her unorthodox methodologies of modelling and drawing seek out ways of observing and proposing for the messy and dramatic landscape of real lives. She has produced a series of materially rich and provocative proposals which accommodate the imaginary, the invisible and the marginalised experience of children within the city.

• Page Hits: 3229         • Entry Date: 16 September 2002         • Last Update: 16 September 2002