The brick in the picture is being preserved as part of the archival holdings of the Canadian Centre for Architecture on the work of the Minimum Cost Housing Group (MCHG). Founded at the McGill University School of Architecture in the early 1970s with the goal of analysing “How the other half builds,” the MCHG focused on practices of building and dwelling in developing countries. The group’s research and project work, including experiments with sulphur concrete, were part of a paradigm shift in the discourse on the housing crises of the global South. Measures such as slum clearances and resettlement, often financed by the World Bank or other international organisations to counter the hardships of the “urban poor,” were mere expressions of the functionalist logics propagated by the construction industries in capitalist societies. Many architects and planners criticised the destruction of existing structures and practices of communal dwelling that went along with these measures, and shifted their focus to informal and vernacular building practices. The notion of Habitat, already discussed in the 1953 CIAM meeting, shaped the approaches to the human settlement problems of the poor from the 1970s onwards.
The sulphur concrete brick, developed in 1972, serves as a point of departure for the 2020 edition of the Bauhaus Lab: The participants are invited to engage with the collection of documents and materials on the MCHG held by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, also considering the archival practices surrounding the preservation of these holdings. How does the process of archiving, as a Western instrument of accumulating and storing knowledge, perpetuate hierarchies and mechanisms of exclusion? Which materials and documents are being preserved, which ones are dismissed? The Bauhaus Lab assesses the delicate mechanisms of recording and documenting the fluid and vibrant practices expressed by the concept of Habitat, and attempts to reconsider the activist demands made in the 1970s by proponents of an “anthropology of dwelling” in the light of the debates on the notion of cohabitation in the Anthropocene.
The findings of this collective research will be presented in an exhibition in the Bauhaus Building, curated and designed by the participants of the programme. The exhibition opening will be embedded in a three-day gathering, titled “Bauhaus Study Rooms,” where students, teachers, activists, designers, architects and scholars involved in the various educational programs run by the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation’s Academy department reflect upon the relation of the Habitat concept to current and historical teaching and learning practices in architecture and design.
About Bauhaus Lab
Bauhaus Lab is a three-month research residency for scholars and practitioners in the fields of architecture, design, and curating. Participation is free, and all participants will be provided with workspaces in the Bauhaus Building. Furthermore, participants receive a contribution toward their housing expenses, and a modest per diem. The programme includes a series of field trips (both national and international); the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation covers travel and accommodation expenses incurred during these excursions. Residents are expected to be present on site during the entire period of the programme, to contribute to the collective research, and to meet regularly with the programme organisers for follow-up and feedback. The programme is conducted in English.
The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation welcomes applications for the programme.
To apply, please send a CV, a portfolio and a letter of interest (in English) to Dr. Regina Bittner, head of the programme, by February 29, 2020: lab [at] bauhaus-dessau.de
The Bauhaus Lab 2020 starts on 4 May and ends on 1 August 2020.
Questions regarding the application and selection process as well as the programme can also be directed to this address. Up to eight participants will be selected by an international jury. Successful candidates will be notified by March 9, 2020.
We specifically encourage people working in regions and disciplines hitherto marginalised in Western academic and cultural institutions to apply. The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation will endeavour to assist with visa formalities for applicants from outside the Schengen area.
TitleOpen Call: Bauhaus Lab 2020 – A Concrete for the “Other Half”
TypeGrants, Scholarships & Awards
Submission DeadlineFebruary 29, 2020 12:00 AM
VenueBauhaus Dessau Foundation
The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is a non-profit foundation under public law. It is institutionally funded by the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the State of Saxony-Anhalt, and the City of Dessau-Roßlau.