Living in the bubble: Creating extra living space for cities
Creating extra living space for cities
In her attempt to create more living space in overcrowded cities, the artist and architect Agnes Brigida Giannone simply clamped a living bubble between two walls of a house. The space is accessed via the telephone box beneath it that comes with integrated housing technology. The unusual construction project - Project "Bloon" - was the topic of an architecture seminar at the University of Bochum.
Bringing student living back into the city
The project is intended to provide answers to the problems of the housing market in the university city of Bochum, where every seventh resident is a student. The students currently live largely in student apartment blocks outside of the inner city and close to the university. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the student union considered how this could be changed. Working under the condition that the students could implement a 1:1 model at the end of a draft seminar, the architect Agnes Giannone, the university's lecturer for interior space, took on the challenge. The most interesting draft would then be selected following the seminar by a jury chaired by the architect and then implemented.
How might the student living of the future look? Can inconspicuous places be brought to life or can something that already exists be reinterpreted? The "Bloon" project took its cue - among other things - from the pneumatic installations of the architect and artist Hans Hollein in the late 60s. This inflatable office could be set up in public locations and was intended to enable temporary working at different sites. One of the students, David Keuer, developed this idea into a living space. His "Luftschloss" (Sky Castle) idea was unanimously selected by the jury for implementation. The air bubble is pressed between two houses here and contains various wooden structures for the kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and living room. The "Luftschloss" thus became the "Bloon" project.
Telephone box as home technology hub
An old telephone box was retrofitted for use as a point of entry, replacing freestanding stairs. This gateway from the public to the "private" area is simultaneously used as a home technology hub: the entrance, staircase, shower, toilet as well as the function of an airlock to the interior and as a station for pressure retention in the bubble are all situated in here. TECElux came into the equation as a suggestion for the toilet, the idea was to exploit its height-adjustability so it could simultaneously be used as a "lift" upwards. But since the TECElux toilet terminal is more aimed at achieving a comfortable height when using the toilet, it wasn't able to fulfil this purpose.
Technical support during the construction phase
TECE was still called in to support this project, however, and thanks to the TECEprofil support frame system, was able to offer a solution for stability issues after the telephone box interior was gutted. When it came to the telephone box drainage, TECE was also able to contribute a product for the shower with the TECEdrainline shower channel. Alongside TECE, the project team also worked with many other supporters, who provided advice and assistance as well as sponsoring materials. The company Pneumocell from Vienna performed the construction and setup of the bubble, while Akzo Nobel Decoration Paint and the carpentry company Fischer from Bochum as well as colleagues from the Chair of Structural Design helped the students out. In total, the construction process took approximately half a year including the preparations.
Living under the open sky
And how does such a living experiment feel in practice? Kim Stolfik, who worked on the project as a student, provided a report of her experience: "Despite the transparency, I didn't feel like I was on display - the atmosphere felt more as if I was floating above everything". Following the show phase on the presentation evening with, among other things, projections on the skin of the bubble and lots of passers by, viewers were then also able to watch the stars undisturbed - a feeling like being under the open sky.