With current developments around the world, this next edition features works revolving around the theme of ‘home’. A house being the place where you eat, sleep, and hopefully shower every now and then, home could be seen as the place where you feel you belong. We we invited our writers to ask themselves about the idea of home and all its intricacies.
Aimee Baars, Christopher Clarkson, Nicole van Roij, Federico Ruiz, Chun Kit 'CK' Wong, Inez Margaux Spaargaren, Robert van Overveld
Amy Young, Margot Hols, Jānis Bērziņš
A house provides us shelter and safety, but when does a house become a home? Home does not merely provide shelter from the elements, privacy from the public sphere and a comfortable bed to sleep in, but more so, it is an object of possession. Your home is distinctly yours and therefore has personal, sentimental value. Home embodies a personal connection to a house, a sense of belonging. In these past few weeks, we have gotten to know our homes pretty well – the cracks and the imperfections. The shading of the sun on the walls at certain times of day. The sound of neighbours ascending their stairs. This sentiment has deepened. Yet, at times when you grasp the absurd reality of the current corona crisis, the home becomes its literal and objective self again, the ‘house’; a block built up from walls, confining and static. With the rise of the pandemic and the fall of public space, the function of the house has changed and so too has the meaning of ‘home’.
Through this issue of Bnieuws, we explore the ways in which Home has changed. What defines the space where we once felt so much belonging in a time when some of its fundamental characteristics have been challenged? Could this pandemic be considered ‘The New Normal,’ an idiom that has been used frequently these past couple of weeks? Chun Kit investigates in his article What if normal is dead? on page 33 the potential need for a new residential typology, one where all exterior public functions become decentralised and localised within our homes. One might hope that this is a drastic measure to a temporary problem, however, permanent or not, the ‘house’ has been redefined as a foundational structure in society; most former outdoor activities have been interiorised including work, the cinema, sports, and as we all know, academics.
As our collective academic home of BK City has also closed, Aimee’s interview with Michael van der Tas gives insight into the preparations of the building readying itself to welcome her new residents in the coming academic year on page 03.
Our pen pal Margot explores these minimal square meters through text and imagery in her article about the Delftse stoep, in An Ode to the Pavement, page 10. Describing how the boundaries between private and public, the home and the street, have been blurred; the trottoir has suddenly become a layered space of activity – a playground for children, an office for the parents, a podium for a spontaneous opera performance.
Meanwhile Frederico and Christopher provide two sides of the same coin, encapsulating the essence of what it is to be in lockdown, and live in the strange new environment that we still call home. On page 07 Christopher dives into the idea of Home having become a contextless prison or merely, a house, and on page 24 Federico indulges in the humours and surprising sentiments provided by the online public interactions that we now endure.
Most of us haven’t been able to access the faculty these last months, one of the exceptions is Michael van der Tas. He is part of the crisis team of the TU Delft and since we were eagerly interested in what it feels like to be in an empty faculty, we asked him if he could give us a sense of it all ...
From the editors
Among the many things that have changed since the beginning of lockdown is my perception of the space in which I live. What once was the place with fond associations of warmth, comfort, and intimacy has become something else entirely. While maintaining essentially the same spatial characteristics - the chair I use to work is still there, the window which lets light in still lets light in, the room is still as big as it used to be and the dining table is precisely where I left it – the phenomenological experience of these spatial qualities; the mental, psychological attachment to them, has shifted from a once Bachelardian narrative into a more depressing Foucauldian panopticon prison. What follows is a phenomenological analysis of my and, essentially, your home in these changing times. Meanwhile, overlapping with this soliloquy of mine, is the jarring commentary of lyrics and melodies singing an all too joyful and now seemingly naïve tune of what home is, causing ironies and provoking memories of days and emotions passed but not quite forgotten.
Suburbia in London first established itself during the 19th century. Inner city London was suffering from an overgrowth in population which developed into extreme overcrowding, forming what could only be described as city slums. This resulted in unpleasant living conditions, prompting many city people to crave a new way of life. The development of the national rail and the omnibus presented an opportunity for individuals to maintain their jobs in the centre of London whilst residing further outside the city. CFG Masterman in The condition of England described those who escaped the city as the suburbans, they formed a what he calls “a homogeneous civilisation – detached, self-centred, unostentatious. A life of security; a life of sedentary occupation; a life of respectability.”
From the editors
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented impacts on society, both on a global and localized scale. This extends from economic, financial sectors to sociological domains. People are now confronted with the need for physical distancing, a spatial consideration incompatible with the urban design which endeavours to sustain high population density. While work from home and home-based learning are examples of workarounds (albeit technologically centric) to cater to the need for physical isolation, it is evident that such measures would be temporal and unsustainable. Should we, as designers, start to question the temporality of such measures, and be engaged in the discussion of spatial interventions? What if the norm, as we believed it to be, is dead? How will it have future implications to spatial design, especially in residential/ work typology?
Due to the current circumstances, my ideas about ‘home’ are shifting. My physical living, working and exercising space may have been restricted to 14m2, but the garden has never seen my face so many times per day and I’m rediscovering my tiny neighbourhood. During these walks, the pavement provides a dancefloor of some sorts. Dodging approaching pedestrians becomes an activity in itself. Before all of this, the pavement was just there. Now, its importance as an element to structured street-life is evident. Of course, this wasn’t always like this.
So far, this enclosure has given us the rare opportunity of meeting people who are not that close to us in the most intimate spaces possible: their houses. As an inevitable extension of this new reality, the smooth and focused rhythm of the academic world has suddenly been interrupted by events and accidents that belong to the domestic sphere. In some way, these moments have also become the most dramatic and intimate instants of this new, otherwise dull, days.
Imagine this situation: you and your friends get together on New Year’s Eve in Moscow. You get drunk, really drunk, and eventually pass out. Two of your friends are still awake and remember that one of you must go to Leningrad (nowadays Saint-Petersburg) and needs to catch a plane, but they don’t remember who. So they decide to put you on the plane.
From the editors
From my desk to the kitchen, to the bedroom and back again, this is the longest walk I can practice in my house. It takes around 14 seconds and the total of social encounters, apart from my own reflection in the mirror, is 0. Meanwhile, the newspapers are loaded with articles on how to home-stay without going mental. After applying some of these techniques for weeks, I gave up and strolled into the outdoor scenery. At the moment, the appeal to be in 'green space' is strong and some particular parks and green structures seem more popular than others. By walking, I tried to understand which spaces are more popular and why.
From the editors
Ever since the Corona crisis struck, I have discovered a few neighborhood walks, among them a path to a nearby estate named Clingendael. The winding path crosses a stream, then follows it until reaching a pond embraced by several impressive oaks. While I walk this route alone - and so do most other obeying humans - birds, insects, sheep and all other organisms have continued their gatherings enthusiastically. Never have I paid more attention to these fellow city dwellers than during the past month. Their lives have continued unchanged and I have been observing them keenly.
From the editors
For this month's edition we have once again outsourced artistic talent for our cover, this time seeking help from the children of aunts and uncles of the editorial board. From the younger perspective we hoped to grasp a more true and pure depiction of what home is and really means. Home in the child's eye is the one that we all remember most afterall.