The French architect Stéphane Malka knows how to cause a stir. His 2009 project ‘Self-Defense’ imagined stacks of riffraff apartment boxes attached parasitically to the sides of the Grande Arche at La Defense, an icon of neoliberal Paris and its delusional, exclusionary ambitions. Malka’s vertical village was the equivalent of flipping the bird, where the intention is very much to hijack a cultural monument and expose all its pretensions.
Malka’s latest project builds on those previous, conceptual exercises. A-KAMP47 consists of a wall of PVC tents erected in an industrial corridor in Marseille. These are cantilevered off a minimal still lattice, itself fixed to a long concrete wall that fences in a railyard. Sheathed in a camouflage pattern, the tents, form “stealth” pockets of temporary shelter for the homeless and “urban campers” alike. They’re lined with an insulated isothermal covering that keep inhabitants warm on cold nights.
Although it is not entirely legal, the shelters at ‘KAMP47′ certainly serve their purpose in bringing the subject of homelessness to light and providing a makeshift shelter, through the construction of 23 vertically secured units that have a striking similarity to pop-up tents. Each unit provides an individual living space and the inhabitant protection from the elements, vandalism and many of the other concerns that sleeping on the street must incur.
The plot selected for the project is a previously unoccupied space, raising the question as to whether the ‘vertical camp” is public or private property, causing much controversy. Accessed via an internal corridor, these units certainly make a collective statement regarding the lack of laws, providing obligation, to housing in France, controversial or not, and the need across the developed world for changes in how we approach and deal with homelessness
Location: Marseille, France
Architect: Stéphane Malka, Paris, France
Technical info: PVC tents
Picture credits: Laurent Garbit, Malka Architecture