016

Arte Útil archive nr:

016

Initiator:

Michael Rakowitz

Location:

US

Category:

economy, social

Users:

Artist, homeless people

Maintained by:

Lombard-Freid Fine Arts

Certification:

prototype

Duration:

1997 - 2008

Michael Rakowitz
-
paraSITE

Description:

The project consists of inflatable shelters for homeless. They work by attaching themselves to heating or ventilation vents of buildings. The air from the building simultaneously inflates and heats these double-membrane structures. The name of the project emphasizes the relationship of the parasite that uses the energy of a host. The units were developed in collaboration with the homeless, were built using temporary materials that were readily available on the streets, such as
plastic bags and tape. The units have very small and easy to transport.

Goals:

paraSITE proposes the appropriation of exterior ventilation systems on existing architecture as a means for providing temporary shelter for homeless people.

Beneficial Outcomes:

Built and distributed to over 30 homeless people in Boston, Cambridge, New York City and Baltimore. While these shelters were being used, they functioned not only as a temporary place of retreat, but also as a station of dissent and empowerment; many of the homeless users regarded their shelters as a protest device, as a refusal to surrender, and made visible the unacceptable circumstances of homeless life within the city.

Images: