What is the worst smelling object in the world

Meda's house in Feleacu

The story of an appropriation

Text: Bucsa, Tibi, Cluj-Napoca

Medas Haus is one of our projects that we visit regularly even after our work as architects has long been done. There are good reasons for this: It's no more than 15 minutes by car from the city, but sometimes it's like being at the end of the world. And something has always changed in the house or in its surroundings. On the one hand, it is the color of the wood that ages, a tree that has grown, or any additions appear on the house and around it. But of course there are also the unchanged and familiar things, Yoda, the cat, Meda's hospitality, her homemade cider, the coffee we bring and the photos we take to keep the house diary going. But that's where she always lines up.

When asked for a text about this house and its history, I will try and tell you about the little adventures of the making-of and the changes that the house has gone through since it was occupied in 2010. Meda, a young meteorologist, wanted to build her own house, somewhere outside the city, in a place with a wide view of the sky and its clouds. She looked for and found such a place in a village near the city of Cluj, a narrow piece of land on a steep slope, so far away and so high up that no later buildings would allow a view of the endless landscape that spreads south from here , would be able to take. The budget was tight, 20,000 euros, but it was enough to make the house habitable.

The compact box, the wall that is wide open on the valley side, (building) deep loggias, a ground floor with stairs are the obvious answers to the circumstances. The decision in favor of a wooden structure also seemed obvious and only "natural": In Romania, wood is the cheapest material on the market. But unfortunately there is a catch: only a few craftsmen can really handle it. The structural engineers had to reckon with a worst-case scenario that read as follows: The client, that was certain, would opt for the cheapest wood on the market (cheap = worst quality, that is, with the highest possible number of knotholes and impurities per square meter). In addition, the building contractors will work with unskilled labor in order to save money. In other words, they couldn't necessarily rely on carpentry correct connections in their calculations. This results in a further contradiction: the construction is oversized, and the connections are made of metal - both expensive, but durable; nevertheless: for a targeted low-budget construction ... The joke about the story is: The material was indeed of the lowest quality, but in my opinion this gives the interior walls a rich texture thanks to all the knotholes that make the wall like points litter. And, contrary to expectations, the building contractor turned out to be quite skilful in the carpentry trade, which also allowed him to notice that the extremely robust construction would “survive a nuclear war”.

When I mentioned at the beginning that the budget was sufficient to make the house habitable, I have to add that “habitable” means the state reached today and that one has to take into account the constant transformations over time that were not factored in. But the winter that Meda moved in, the house was so far ready: a sink and shower (in the place of a staircase that had been replaced by a simple ladder), an "ecological" toilet outside the house, tap water Obtained from precipitation, drinking water was fetched from a nearby spring, there was an oven for cooking and heating, a mattress and a cat. The village has no water supply or disposal, but there should be one soon, probably, maybe.

Changes and compromises were made during and after the construction phase, but not necessarily in the worst sense. The upper loggia was closed at this stage of development and converted into a winter garden, a rain cover was attached above the lower terrace, everything in polycarbonate. The windows are not made of glass either, they are made of the same polycarbonate, this ugly aging material, but its texture, together with the texture of the wood and the bamboo blinds, make it look at least halfway interesting.

The walls of the terraces are not closed on the inside and clad with wood, but are used as additional storage space for all things that accumulate in everyday life. So you have a kind of shelves that make the whole room appear cozy and also "green" in the warm season thanks to the fragrant plants that have found shelter here. However, interior design is completely Meda's business, and I find it fascinating to discover a small, sometimes a larger change with every visit: in the use of space, in the furniture or the colors. I can only admire it again and again how every object has found its right place, like on a stage that we found as children in the houses of our grandparents and where everything had its natural place, hammer and nail, coffee and cup. And all of them are in place, sometimes in multi-purpose use - the table is used as a pad for the laptop, as a make-up and sewing table and sometimes as a coffee table and to roll cigarettes on. Things and habits are grouped around these protagonists of the room, the stove, the bed and the table.

This simple wooden box is therefore able to provide a framework for all living needs and lively change. But if you look at it from a different perspective, from that of a house with a garden, then you could perhaps say that it has a defect. Just as the things of daily life have found their place inside, the "infrastructure" for gardening and miniature agriculture also requires space, in the courtyard, sometimes as an extension to the "main house", sometimes free-standing in small improvised sheds for Animals, tools, water tanks and bicycles. Some of these changes will last, some will go away and others will show up, but everything seems to be slowly moving towards building an ordinary household.

Last but not least, it must be mentioned that the house is actually only inhabited on the ground floor, by Meda and her boyfriend, and not for economic reasons. The upper floor, which according to the plan should become a bedroom, is already being used, but to dry wild herbs and occasional guests
to accommodate. Meda and her friend say that the first floor is enough for them. I am inclined to believe them.

From 2005 onwards, we (SKBD) have built a number of single-family houses for younger couples. They start at a size of 200 square meters, some are 500, others even as much as 900 square meters. The builders have one thing in common: Almost all of them spent their childhood in socialist housing estates in apartments of a maximum size of 80 square meters, which were inhabited by a family of at least four.

Translation from English: Michael Goj


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