Appropriating the Grid

Irene Roca Moracia
︎ i.rocamrc
︎ London, UK
Appropriating the Grid is a two years research project about the unsustainabilities and social inequalities of the construction industries. The project won the Green trail Award by Maison0 LVMH and was nominated to the MullenLowe NOVA Award in innovation.

Everything started with two questions: How unfinished domestic spaces can play a decisive role as tools for social empowerment. Can we use unfinished architecture structures to start creating more participative and society reflecting environments?

Due to the financial crisis of 2008, many European countries were left with a new landscape of unfinished and empty buildings. This vast stock remains mostly untouched nowadays; the so call Contemporary ruins are a reminder of an era of excess and a striking contrast to another sad reality, the residential crisis. Parallel to this massive problem, we find another significantly important one. From those who succeed to have access to new constructions since the 1990s, 40% states that their domestic spaces do not adapt to their daily needs. They affirm that they would like to make some remodelling of the space, but they cannot afford it economically.

What is happening is that the construction market is not only excluding a large sector of the population with its economic inflation, but it is also building a product that doesn’t represent the society that inhabits it. Who are we building for? is it the architectural and construction world listening to the residential needs of their users? Or has it become a money-making machine that has strayed from its original function based on the universal right of housing? To what extent is the new construction ethical, sustainable and justifiable considering the amount of unfinished and empty real estate stock that we have in developed countries?
My research is a journey thought all those questions, and what I hope to be a positive view towards the future of those unfinished spaces and the way we consume architecture.

Contemporary Ruins are the visible part of the overproduction in the construction industries. The European economy, organized in the form of a chain market, overproduces at all stages. From the constant creation and discard of construction materials, caused by strict checking and over-regulated safety and quality. To the approaches to producing the spaces that surround us, delivered completely finished and pre-designed beforehand and therefore rarely according to the rapidly changing real needs of users.  

Over the past two years, I researched how this system works. Making use of legal grey zones to obtain materials in perfect condition, discarded by construction companies, underpinned the production of the collection. I combined formal structure and informal adaptation through up-cycled construction materials to provide needed furniture solutions. The collection offers an ensemble of 11 modular elements that combine to achieve any standard high or measure for our daily needs.

Apporpiating the Grid illustrates how sustainability is a matter of operations and behaviours not merely a matter of architectural design and technology.

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