image courtesy of public works
Whilst we were eating the food which had been cooked from what was grown on-site (From garden to plate), we had three talks from people affiliated with R-Urban Wick. These included talks from Torange Khonsari, Mara Weiss and Carlotta Novella from public works and Luma Ifram, a recent graduate from the Royal College of Art (RCA). Each of the talks discussed different elements of the relationship between the public realm and home, significantly how the two can crossover.
Torange spoke of a project called Balin House – My home is your home which was a collaboration between public works and BalinHouseProjects. It was a most intriguing talk as Torange discussed how an artist looked to open his home to the local people and explore ‘the public role of the home through the intimate act of hosting’. It was explained how the project tried to bridge the idea of civic/cultural asset with that of the home, asking whether these could be one in the same. The issue which seem to stunt this initial concept was that the flat was not on the ground floor which inevitably made in difficult to allow people wander in like they would a public space. This lead to the need for hosting to be done via invitation and it was mostly the neighbouring flats who would attend. This project has now been published as a book, which was present for people to look through around the table.
Luma discussed her own project at RCA as an architecture student. She spoke of using the diary as a method for recording the project as it developed. She had also started to use a typewriter to produce the writing and realised this could also be used to produce the drawings for the project as well. She discussed how this culminated in a structure which was erected in an area of residential housing. Her talk was made up of very specific terminology and concepts within architecture and academia.
Mara gave a talk to the group explaining the way in which her and Carlotta had created the food we were eating with help from the participants who were now sitting round the table. She explained how she had used elements of vegetables such as carrot tops which would normally be thrown away. It was very interesting to listen to someone who had considered cooking from a different perspective and showed everyone how the parts of food which would normally be considered waste can be used as part of a nutritional diet.
Carlotta spoke of a project she had completed at Central Saint Martins as an architecture student. The project focused on a specific rule within the tenancy agreement for Tower of Hamlets Homes. This rule specified that you are only allowed to use your home as a private dwelling and that you are not allowed to run a business from it. However, Carlotta spoke of how she had found that many people work from home as it is the only way for them to make a living. She had found it difficult to record this however, as many people were reluctant to ‘go on record’ for fear of being found out by the local authority who saw this as a breached of contract.
The talk given by Carlotta then led onto a very interesting discussion around the table about the nature of having a business which is based within your home. Some of those who had actually had experience of this, relayed their own issues with similar bureaucratic ‘red tape’. This developed into an in-depth debate on the matter and made for very rich conversation and knowledge sharing.