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Romani Tectonic: A new paradigm in cultural exchange through re-territorising the city

Part 1 Project 2011
Henry Beech Mole
University for the Creative Arts Canterbury UK
The Czech Republic, a new economic power on the global stage, has sought, since the
revolution to establish an increasing density of tertiary industry within the city walls of its
capital. Turning to the West, Prague has been established as attractive new terrain for
foreign investment and conglomerate business. The free-market transformation of the
city has forced out many small businesses and poorer peoples, as retail rents and
property prices soar.
While the Czech Republic is presented as a developed, democratic, and civilised nation,
during this period of transition from the era of Soviet autocracy to sovereign democracy
the large minority Romani population bore the brunt of a new right-wing politics. During
the period between 1948 and 1989 Prague’s native Roma lived on equal terms with other
Czech citizens; were educated, given employment, and housing. Now, Roma are second
class citizens; re-located to state-owned ghettos, and educated in schools for children
with special needs. Some reports suggest that Romani women have been forcibly
sterilised as recently as 2006. In the sixth year of the Decade of Roma Inclusion, a
European Union intuitive of which the Czech Republic currently holds the presidency, it is
time to demonstrate that the Czech and Roma can open a co-operative cultural dialogue.
Can an architectural device seek to exploit these conditions and generate a subversive
cultural exchange?
This proposal, entitled Romani Tectonic, subverts the racial tensions between the Czech
and Roma, enacting new mechanisms for cultural exchange disassociated from personal
encounter. At the heart of the scheme lies a secret acoustic, subterranean gypsy-jazz
performance space that carries music out to the very extents of the site, where tuned
resonators reduce two of three dominant frequencies; allowing the passer-by to hear the
violin as they travel to embark on their weekly shop, the double bass and they disembark
the tram, and the guitar and they venture out of the office for lunch. These isolated
frequencies entice one into the central Trida (square) where the complete symphony may
be enjoyed. A yarn dyeing factory bleeds out the colour of the days toil, onto the
easternmost point of the site, providing a locating beacon at night, and expressing the
vibrancy of the Roma culture in its most literal sense. A monthly horse market, held on
the promenade which expresses the location of the metro lines below, transforms the
Trida i

Henry Beech Mole

Tutor(s)
Mr Oliver Froome-Lewis
2011
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