From Urban Hovels to Earth Luxury Architecture. An Emerging Controversy? by Catalin Berescu and Florin Botonogu

8 th November - From Urban Hovels to Earth Luxury Architecture. An Emerging Controversy? by Catalin Berescu and Florin Botonogu

Hosted by Dr Mike Phillips OBE, British novelist, historian and curator.
Followed by Q&A session

19.00-21.00, The Ratiu Foundation / Romanian Cultural Centre, Manchester Square, 18 Fitzhardinge Street, London W1H 6EQ; Tel. 020 7486 0295, ext 108; 
e-mail: bookings@romanianculturalcentre.org.uk; Entry is free but booking is essential.

“Rural Romania used to be the paradise of earth architecture. But mud bricks, rammed earth or reed roofs are now quickly disappearing in order to give place to strong concrete blocks, omnipresent gypsum boards, bituminous roofs and plastic windows. Modernisation seems to bring more pains than relief, as it comes with the need for air conditioning and electrical ventilation, with non-recyclable materials and the transition from local raw materials to stock materials that are now making the connection – and establishing the dependency – to the global market. Huge trucks packed with miraculous new materials are taking the dusty roads in a mission to change not only the quality of rural constructions but also their aesthetics. Our presentation will introduce the work of a reflection group with an urban intellectual background and no fear of the rural life, which produced since 2006 a series of buildings and experiments as an attempt to re-appropriate traditional construction techniques.

Our first exercise started under the strong impression of that year’s floods, and after the completion of a study at national level on the poor neighbourhoods inhabited by the Roma in Romania. Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to visit legal and illegal camps in France, Italy, Greece, Serbia, India and the UK and our attempt is to connect all this knowledge with the problems raised by the evictions of Roma camps in France, and also to the new housing policies proposed by EU. The two speakers will present their contributions to the recently released volume Mapping the Invisible (Blackdog, 2010), a study on Roma housing conditions in Europe.
While keeping in mind the initial assumption that traditional mud construction techniques can be recuperated for the use of rationalising the production of houses for the poor, we might find out that it might be more than that and earth architecture has the potential to come to the city.” (Catalin Berescu and Florin Botonogu)

Catalin Berescu studied architecture and urbanism at Ion Mincu University in Bucharest. He worked as an editor for several architectural journals, did artistic interventions in public space and teaches about new media & architecture, as well as other theoretical issues. His main research and intervention field is extreme poverty housing and housing discrimination. He is also an adobe buildings enthusiast.

Florin Botonogu works for the Policy Centre for Roma and Minorities in Bucharest and has a wide experience in issues concerning disadvantaged groups and minorities. He holds a Master Degree in European Social Policies and worked for UNDP in the areas of poverty and vulnerable groups, contributing to studies and projects on housing and Roma related issues.

Organised by The Ratiu Foundation / Romanian Cultural Centre in London.
Culture Power is a programme initiated by the Ratiu Foundation, consisting of a number of presentations and constructive dialogue with an invited audience.

With the support of ProFusion International Creative Consultancy.
Photo: Mud-brick house at Capul Dolosman, Romania, by Catalin Berescu. © Catalin Berescu.

via: http://www.romanianculturalcentre.org.uk/rcc-events/2010/11/urban-hovels-luxury-architecture-berescu-botonogu/

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