"scripted urbanism - reserve space for change and celebrate the informal"

Gecekondu DUS Summerhouse Hotel

Illegal temporary travelling hotel, offering free lodging in exchange for cultural contribution

In an era where over half of the residents of many large cities live in informal settlements, and over a billion squatters inhabit the world, with this number growing rapidly, one can question the future of mere top down urban planning. The research project 'Play the city' that the Gecekondu Hotel is part of, refers to playing instead of planning: Game-play allows for fun and spontaneity within scripted rules and offers a way for both top down and bottom up players to collaborate.
Gecekondu, the Turkish name for shanty building, literally means 'built over night'. Gecekondu neighbourhoods are based on the rule that anyone who builds his house in one night receives ownership rights. This simple rule has shaped many large Turkish cities such as Istanbul, where 70 % of the urban fabric is built in informal urban setup. Next to evident infrastructural disadvantages, this informality also has great benefits: Gecekondu areas contain really strong social networks, which are often lacking in the formally planned Dutch neighbourhoods. By building the Gecekondu Summerhouse Hotel, illegally overnight at several locations, informal use of public space in The Netherlands was tested and questioned.

The building stone of the Gecekondu was the archetypical nomadic object: The 'China Bag'. It referred to the temporary nomadic character of the hotel, and allowed for very easy transportation. It also questioned the illegality of the hotel: the bags were filled with sand found on site and therefore only re-shaped what was already available on location. Guests could stay for free, in exchange for a contribution to the hotel-guestbook. Curious neighbours walked by- and stayed: On each location, within days, the hotel was fully booked! The contributions of the guests exceeded all expectations: gardening, music performances, barbeQ-restaurants, plays, children's parties, outdoor cinema events, one day exhibitions, to name but a few, all took place on before vacant land.

The Gecekondu Summer House Hotel revealed the potential of unused urban space. It showed the eagerness of neighbours to contribute and utilize their immediate surroundings. It demonstrated the need for informal places for people to meet and exchange ideas. As such, the Gecekondu portrayed a new democratic architecture. It became a real temporary forum, or physical facebook. People met at the Gecekondu, returned several times, and stayed friends, also after the hotel disappeared. Its architecture was impermanent but remains in the memory of those who where there: a Mental Monument.

Client: Self initiated project by DUS architects
Program: Temporary hotel
Locations: Almere, Amsterdam (2x) and Rotterdam, NL
Phase: Realised 2009
Project team: Hans Vermeulen, Martine de Wit, Hedwig Heinsman, Maja Gesar, Quentin Perchet, Geoff Kees Thompson
With contributions from our guests / Many thanks to: DJ Chrille Brun, DJ Ciao Bella, Vette Letters of Donald, Dylan & Stephen, Laurent de Wolf & Alberto Ciaccio, Leonard van Munster, Ekim Tan, Dawn & Zahijie, Robert Paimans, Sabrina Lindemann, Sven Quadflieg & Gregor Theune, Amsterdam Crea Orchestra, Frank Maasdijk, Fabienne de Moulin, Mehtap Gungormez, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Ergün Erkoçu & Cihan Bugdaci, Sander van der Ham, Indira van het Klooster, Marcel van Wees, Dirk Overduin, Iskra Vuksic, Felix van Rijn & Rosário, Ties Mellema, Renato Perotti, Eduard Böhtlingk, Peter van Assche, Willem Velthoven, Joop & Jeroen from Golfstromen, ARCAM and all our visitors.

Total blog at www.dusarchitects.com/gecekondu