HEERLEN – Last year, French architect Stéphane Malka described his design for A-KAMP47, a wall-mounted tent community in Marseille, as ‘cantilevered on the law between private and public property’. His work is intensely political, calling attention to urban housing crises and the inability of prevailing architectural and socioeconomic values to provide solutions.
In a new project, Malka proposes a ‘hip hop-rooted architecture’. The title lyric from New York rapper Nas’s ‘The World is Yours’ serves as a kind of epigraph for Bow-House, a light urban shelter that occupies a graffiti-covered blind wall in the Dutch town of Heerlen. ‘What’s outside is ours to share,’ says Malka. ‘This project aims to encourage public participation as an act of resistance against the laws of the marketplace and the commodification of construction.’ By translating some of hip hop’s messages to the architectural language, Bow-House resists categorisation. It offers a completely open housing unit, free shelter for everyone from casual passers-by to more permanent squatters. Malka’s influence from hip hop music goes beyond the lyrical though.
‘I consider myself a sampler,’ he says, ‘like those machines used in electronic and hip hop music to create a loop, adding layers of sounds until you find the right track.’ To create Bow-House, the architect partially covered a scaffolding structure with a random assortment of salvaged windows and doors ‘sampled’ from neglected urban sites. Like a beat improvised on the fly, Bow-House emerged quickly; the entire structure was delivered in two days. Classed as an architectural installation, it will stay in its current location for one year.
Asked what else he listens to for inspiration, Malka suggested ‘KRS-One for his vision to heal the streets and Public Enemy for their politically charged lyrics and criticism of the American System’. His current playlist includes ‘Code of the Streets’ by Gang Starr, ‘Streets of New York’ by Kool G Rap, and ‘Juice (Know the Ledge)’ by Eric B. & Rakim.