Le Medina: Notes from the Focus Groups (2016)
Le Medi is a housing development situated in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It was built in 2008 in a low income district of the city, popular with immigrants from Turkey and Morocco. The new development was originally going to be called Le Medina. Le Medi, its final title, was chosen because it was more Mediterranean sounding. It was seen to have more potential in regenerating the local area by attracting new, more affluent residents. Le Medina was deemed to be too middle-eastern in feel.
I was approached and commissioned by Rotterdam’s Showroom MAMA gallery to produce a piece of work for an exhibition. At a time of increasing debates around immigration and identity in Europe, I became interested in the way the Arab architectural origins of this particular housing development were toned down. My response is comprised of a short animated film and a series of computer rendered images, which are both based on the original architectural plans of Le Medi. The short film explores a half-finished 3D model of Le Medi and discusses how the middle eastern origins of architecture might be softened to appeal to a ‘European orientated’ audience of potential housing buyers.
To produce the rendered images of the development, I collaborated with a 3D visualisation specialist from the middle-east. We speculated on what the alternative middle eastern version of Le Medi might have looked like and some of the anxieties its original conception might have aroused. These photorealistic stills are exhibited alongside the video.