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A Concrete for the "Other Half"?

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ
The 2020 edition of Bauhaus Lab is centred around a sulphur concrete block developed by the Minimum Cost Housing Group. Based in McGill University in Canada since the 1970s, the group researched alternative building practices and materials to develop appropriate building technologies to address the housing question of the global South. The Lab, in turn, explores a complex constellation of actors, institutions, discourses and material flows behind both the design of a sulphur block and other experimental projects of the MCHG.
This research is situated within a particular context of an anthropological turn of the 1970s, when the notion of habitat offered a different understanding of building and dwelling, while international institutions tried to solve the 'housing problem' and eradicate poverty. In a reaction to scientific rationality of industrialised mass-housing of the post-WWII period, the new generation of architects engaged with new fieldwork methods, studying the everyday life of ‘the other half.’ Vernacular and self-built architecture seemed to offer new appropriate solutions within growing environmental awareness and globalised material flows. Sulphur, a waste material from oil processing, promised a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to traditional concrete.

  • Research, curation end exhibition design in collaboration with Mya Berger, Leticia M. Brown, Ines Glowania, Denisa Kollarová, Maryia Rusak, David Davalos Sanchez and Léonie Thiroux.

Research

A Concrete for the

Scan from the "ECOL Operation" book by the MCHG

A Concrete for the

Scan from the "ECOL Operation" book by the MCHG

A Concrete for the

Scan from the "ECOL Operation" book by the MCHG

A Concrete for the

Members of the MCHG in front of their workshop.

A Concrete for the Courtesy Jon Boon

Construction of the Round House at Saddle Lake, 1973

A Concrete for the Photo: Eva Jacob

Suspected location of the Round House at Saddle Lake 2020.

A Concrete for the

Our search for Maison Lessard, one of the MCHG buildings, on Google Street View

Exhibition

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

The group and some of their interlocking building blocks.

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

Excerpts from our digital research process are shown on large panels throughout the exhibition space.

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

A screen recording of our online search for the Round House at Saddle Lake and our Instagram messenger chat with Eva Jacob from Saddle Lake who helped us look for the site of the house.

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

Some of the books that the MCHG members were referring to in their master's theses.

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

Comic books were influential to the group's publishing projects.

A Concrete for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation / Photo: Thomas Meyer / OSTKREUZ

The ECOL Operation, one of the publications by the MCHG.

For the exhibition architecture, we used the existing tables at the Bauhaus Dessau, which we had previously worked on ourselves during the exhibition conception. Supplemented by commercially available MDF boards, they became exhibition furniture for our research. Using simple steel frames, the original tabletops were tilted vertically and used as display walls on which we showed snapshots of our mainly digital research process. Using the existing tables by adding a few new modules - MDF boards, steel frames, plastic hoods, and paper - allowed us to save materials, time, and money. This meant that more resources were available for research, work, and reproduction of archival materials. The large-format MDF panels and frames can be reused for future Bauhaus projects, minimizing the production of waste that must be disposed of after the exhibition.