Antepavilion 2020 - People of the abyss
Our entry to the 2020 antepavillion competition took as its inspiration the camp known as the Jungle which existed just outside the Port of Calais in 2015. That year, 6,000 migrants and refugees made their homes in makeshift accommodation as they continued on their journeys away from harm and hardship and towards safety and sanctuary. The French authorities made a number of attempts to break up the camp and disperse its inhabitants. Whilst the population was largely changing and transitory, some of its structures remained constant. Mosques, a church, shops and a barbers formed part of the bid for normality amongst the daily struggle for survival. The Church’s makeshift structure in particular became a symbol of hope for those in need. For the media and critics of the European governments, it became a symbol of the lack of official action. The inevitable destruction of the Church, along with the rest of the camp, was watched worldwide.
The lack of affordable housing homes in London has created a push for gentrification in parts of the capital previously home to generations of east enders along with recent migrants from across the globe.
Jack London’s book called the people of the East End “The People of the Abyss” in his 1902 work of the same name. The properties he visited, the factories of the East End, are now being used to sell an aspirational lifestyle. The chic is being sold from what was once the functional. The unaffordable from the accessible. The area, once within reach for those from the creative sectors of the economy has seen its reputation used to attract wealthy new residents. This has created a new set of the displaced – those who can no longer afford to remain.
Meanwhile those with no-where to go, no homes, whether migrants or those adrift from within the UK, now occupy tents alongside the canals or within the parks of the capital. Recent reports of rough sleepers in the city’s wheelie bins a prompt for questions raised in parliament and headlines in the national news.
The antepavillion is a commentary on evolving populations and evictions, the new homes and the homeless, and the developers and the displaced. Its exterior shares some of the recognisable features of the Church within the Calais Jungle and is is labelled with a pink neon ‘Marketing suite’. The interior presents desirable modern day living. This contrast plays on the desire to live somewhere whilst people live nowhere. A new home on the one hand, an eviction on the other.