welcome... ...stranger


In the first two projects, something of the staging in the house was already visible outside, this time it was not.

The house makes an abandoned impression. The rooms are almost empty, the walls are bare and there is a lonely pear hanging from the ceilings. The atmosphere is chilly, impersonal and not very hospitable.

In the rooms are simple, strict beds made of plywood, visibly screwed together. The front room downstairs has two, the other rooms one each and in the alcove there is a small box on high legs: a bed for a child. They look more like objects than sleeping places.

Each bed has a thin mattress with a cheap standard striped cover. A heavy sheet of glass on top of the blanket nullifies the softness of the bedding and distances it from this glimmer of intimacy. Everything that can make space homely, personal and atmospheric is missing.

The only distraction there is a Spanish-language calendar with a picture of a sunny bay and here and there some old-fashioned postcards of a lighthouse and a northern beach. Nondescript pictures like those in a travel guide, which, at best, evoke vague memories or make one long for distant regions.

The only place with some atmosphere is the alcove. The walls have been stripped of coffee and wallpaper and left like that: peeled planks with flaking paint. Haveless, but picturesque. What, according to press reports, should be a hotel, seems more like a reception centre.

There are so few concrete objects to draw attention to, that as a visitor you become sensitive to all the impressions. As if not the beds but everything around them is being exhibited: the house itself and its surroundings, the space, the atmosphere, the colours and the light. Every stain becomes important, every trace gets meaning.

A glance outside provides some air in this oppressive emptiness. The view shows the hustle and bustle of the Stadhouderskade: at the rear are the roofs and streets of the Pijp. At the same time this confirms the insulation of the house. There is only one way to escape: the stairs and outside. 

(Schwartz, I. (1993) Welcome Stranger, p.105,106)