Space for Solidarity – a pilot project
Maria Daria Oancea
Atelier Ad Hoc is a Bucharest-based architecture practice focused on the relation between public space, informality and living conditions manifested in different situations around the city.
Founded by George Marinescu and Maria Daria Oancea as a dual practice consisting of a design studio and an NGO, Atelier Ad Hoc engages with situations associated with social and spatial vulnerability. They develop projects and processes that extend resources available to communities, whether they are consolidated or marginalized, trying to build ways of working that can contribute to reducing social exclusion while testing alternative visions for an inclusive city.
In Bucharest, homelessness is one of the most precarious forms of living in relation to vulnerable social groups. This condition requires flexible ways of response for urgent reaction and long-term assistance. Many people experiencing homelessness develop their living network in central areas, where they have access to safer spaces and more resources for survival. However, except for a small number of NGOs and public institutions, the municipal social services for this vulnerable group are located in peripheral and hardly accessible areas of the city.
Space for Solidarity is a project that addresses the precarious living conditions associated with homelessness in Bucharest while reclaiming for collective use an abandoned yet central and intensely transited public space. It creates visibility and space for action, for both public and non-governmental support networks, partnered in co-managing the space while becoming a fixed point for their mobile teams.
The infrastructure consists of a modular framework displaying a covered space that offers access to twenty individual units for storing personal belongings. The units have access to electricity using Off-Grid photovoltaic panels. A series of public furniture opens the space for new collective uses. It includes benches and tables at different heights, a changing space, a display point and an area for sports activities that simultaneously functions as a bicycle rack.
The project offers a space to practice, test and experiment with different ways to deal with crisis situations and form alternative visions for more inclusive public spaces. When placing infrastructure for the vulnerable on the outskirts of the city is the norm and physical traces of precarious living situations are not tolerated on the street, the presence of a central visible public space that questions accessibility, living conditions and the right to the city, becomes a moment that can contribute to changing the paradigm of urban spatial politics.