A hut of one’s own / competition project 2010

The project is created as an entry to the 2010 Shelter Student Competition with the topic of “Primitive hut” during my 3rd year as an architecture student. It has a lot of flaws, but I guess it was the first project through which I tried to go beyond the purely pragmatic design logic of my education according to which architecture is a problem-solving discipline subjected to a number of standards and criteria for functionality and aesthetics.

In this regard, this project was my first attempt to look for architecture elsewhere. It was also the first time when I started looking for clues, hints and ideas outside the field of architecture. The result, however, doesn’t differ very much from the same logic I complained against, as it practically only solves the problem of living in a very narrow space. Smile

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While trying to define “primitiveness” in space, I thought that primitiveness as a concept should be explored as a state of mind through which physical space is perceived and experienced. Each spatial entity (a city, a street, a home) communicates through visual codes marking hierarchies, navigations, access, functionalities etc. In this regard the project perceives a “primitive” state of mind as a mind which is able to go beyond those codes as it is urged to question and become aware of what’s actually available and further, transform it according to its own needs.

Since this process goes beyond design, the best that design can do is provide a starting point to provoke and accommodate a personal experiment. In other words, that designated space should be located in the daily environment of the individual yet should escape the acknowledged visual and functional codes and stimulate them to examine their own daily needs. Through play, experiment, chance and the human ability to adapt to almost anything the space is transformed.

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The process I tried to outline suggests a personal discovery, an attempt to find and explore an existing place with such a potential. Since this is very subjective, the design I suggest is my own attempt to imagine myself finding and transforming such a place in the city I live in, Sofia, seen while strolling through the streets and looking for the ghost of a hut of my own.

Over the last century Sofia has been changing intensively struggling to keep up with the rapid changes in politics, technology, society and culture, while having little to no continuity in the management and ideology of its urban form. As a result the city, and especially its central part, rather resembles a collage which is far from harmonious.

Already with the notion of a “potential primitive space” I am looking for those spaces which had been omitted, had appeared as “gaps” among existing designs and have not been utilized or appropriated.

During my walks around I noticed that between many residential buildings built in different times and according to different urban plans, there are those narrow (from 120 to about 240cm) stripes of empty space, where two bare walls face each other. There are rarely windows which makes the high vertical cavity inaccessible and unusable. It seemed to me that this was exactly the type of space I’d been looking for – uninviting, unplanned and uncontested, enclosed between walls marking someone’s privacy and the public space with all its character and openness.

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