Market of the ground floor
Proposal for Transnational Neighborhood in Tensta, StockholmArchitecture Oslo Triennale 2016
Housing blocks in Tensta, like many mass housing projects alike, emerged out of modernist planning of strong distinction between places of private life and those of production. The street as generator of public life where every aspect of human life pullulates throughout their length1 was displaced from the private sphere to a designated place. Market of the Ground Floor represents a spatial exercise in reclaiming publicity of the ground floor and negotiation of boundaries of domestic privacy to be found there. It proposes a new condition for the interface between an inside and an outside, private and public.
"Million Programme", albeit the solution it provided to a housing shortage in Sweden, represented a top down approach that was negating participation and transparency in the decision making processes.2 Planning policies foresaw a consumer oriented, middle class resident content in the comfort of its own apartment and not much involved in the production of the social space. In a time when segregation of work and private life dominated spatial planning, activities in housing neighborhoods came down to basic labor needed for the reproduction of life, such as house work or child care. Once state ceased to provide the ideological framework and market took over, it was the economical power that started to shape the social space of those neighborhoods. In the current context of segregation and disbelief in belonging, the crucial question to pose is how to establish interrelations towards a communal, neighborhood owned space.
Market of the Ground Floor is envisioned as once-a-month activity taking place in front of the ground floor apartments. Structures that will be produced for the occasion, like props used on a stage, will extend the space of the apartments to the outside and turn them into market stands. This temporary exposure of the private as well as the identity of a resident in question is the specificity of this experiment. Drawing a reference on the similar actions such as garage or yard sale in the USA and Restaurant day in Finland3, Market of the Ground Floor is utilizing micro entrepreneurial tendencies of the residents for a reenactment of a street and its publicity. The value of both social and economic encounter on the ground level would be tested and by and by reaffirmed: “Those who have eyes in their heads can find plenty to amuse them in this sea of lusts and faces. It is better than the theatre, better than what we read in novels.”4 Important aspect of the proposal is the involvement of the community and their initiative to follow. Proposed framework suggests just an initial phase that could be further upgraded. The limitation of the ever-same actors that would be active could be extended by joint ventures or proliferation of similar activities along the street on that day could be imagined. Residents are not only invited to participate in the creation of the street life, but also to envision it. The items on display- personal belongings of people behind the window or food of their respective cultures- are conveying the storytelling otherwise untold.
Process would be developed simultaneously via an online platform where further exchange and communication between the actors would take place. This platform would provide an information about the event, i.e how one could obtain he’s or hers stand, how to assemble it, which apartments will be active on the specific date, what would be on display and so on. The idea is to use this platform further for material and immaterial exchange between the residents. The hypothesis of the proposal is that exchange between the actors in the Market would create a new space where social interaction was before not existing. Market would open the possibilities for new kinds of cooperatives to materialize, more personalised ones, speaking to one’s specific needs. This new space, in a close proximity of the private apartments, would also allow for new, more immediate contact to occur.
1.Le Corbusier, “The Street”, originally appeared in L’Intransigeant in May, 19292. Arrhenius, T. (2015) ‘Restoring the Welfare State’ (Lecture to Wohnungsfrage Academy, HKW). 25. October - See more at: https://www.hkw.de/de/app/mediathek/audio/449683. Ravintolapäivä, Restaurant Day, is a food carnival when anyone can set up a restaurant, cafe or a bar for a day4. Le Corbusier, “The Street”