For the Architecture Biennale in Venice, Caramel’s task was to design a ‘Refugee Camp’
280 refugees placed in an abandoned property in Vienna which supposed to be a temporary Refugee Camp. Caramel tried to create in the formerly open space offices the best possibility of privacy and cosiness. Safeguarding privacy, as in marking a place where someone can rest undisturbed by external influences was, for Caramel, the first and most important subject of their “intervention”. Rather than posing a limitation, the time limit became a constructive part of their thought process. Starting with a minimal design repertoire, Caramel first developed elements for dividing up the space and then creating some privacy in the former open-plan offices. This simple formal language was extended to the design of the communal areas. A central criterion of Caramel architects’ design is that all elements can be rapidly dismounted and easily reassembled in a different location. They managed it for only 50€ per person and it took only 50min for each accommodation to build up. Caramel Architekten enjoy working with modular structures and ready-made artefacts as they seek to translate a set of requirements into a handy conceptual tool. This was another project in which it was logical to use off-the-shelf elements to develop a system which is cheap, simple and flexible and remains focussed on the key objective. The architects’ shopping list is full of everyday things that are normally used in other situations and contexts: Polo-Kal pipes with T-junctions and site supports for the basic spatial structure, three-metrediameter parasols as a “load-bearing structure”, thick white fleece as a spatial divider and certified non-flammable material of every colour as a spatial envelope, power distributors, LED lights, cable ties, sticky tape, coat hangers, headphones, plant pots and a doorbell made from a plastic bottle. The basic structure of each unit is easily slotted together or taken apart in a matter of minutes regardless of the spatial conditions. The module made from simple plastic pipes defines the basic spatial limits and the visual and atmospheric enclosure is provided by textile separating walls which combine intimacy with a sense of security. The unit for a family of four consists of a parasol with two sleeping places and two secondary spaces divided by partitions in which there are two extra beds. The vertical elements act as service runs with each having a light and a multiple socket. The basic structure which can be expanded at will only touches the building at its extremities and most work is involved in sewing closable pockets onto the “walls” which can be used for the storage of personal belongings.
Made from low-priced ready-made products like sun umbrellas, construction site fence pedestal, electro and wastewater pipes, curtain fabrics, cable fixer, clamp lights and extended electric sockets Caramel developed together with the refugees spatial structures as prototypes usable also in all kinds of abandoned properties. In the first field-tested Safeguarding privacy – marking a place where someone can be alone, undisturbed by external influences – was, for Caramel
Architekten, the first and most important
subject of their intervention and they saw
the time limit as a condition of - rather than
a limitation on - their thought process.