This vertical campground in Marseille is a stealthy housing project for the homeless. Vertically installed, the camp is in a grey area of legality but aims to provide 47 people with a secure home through the winter. A-Kamp47 by architect and artist Stéphane Malka is located at La Friche de La Belle de Mai on scaffolding next to a graffiti wall between a cultural center and a railroad network. This visible installation is designed to draw attention to the plight of the less fortunate, who have a hard time finding secure housing in the city.
Stéphane Malka began designing this stealth camp back in 2009 and finally was able to install it September of 2013. The installation is based on a couple rules, the first being a new law in France that says you can’t kick someone out of housing during the winter. Then because the camp is vertically installed on a wall and not on the ground, the space counts as public space. Easily visible in a high traffic area, A-Kamp47 seeks to draw attention to housing issues.
The actual camp is composed of 23 camouflaged tents mounted onto the scaffolding of a graffiti-covered wall. Each tent, except one, is large enough for two people and contains thermal blankets and storage space. The project was named after the AK-47, which is a reference to the gun and drug problems of the city. Clustered together, the tents help protect each other, shield the wind and providing warmth. Access to the insides of the tents is gained via the scaffolding in the background.
“Homelessness is very important, but it’s almost like a caricature of what’s happened. People in the low class and even in the middle class don’t have the power to afford to stay in decent houses, especially in France,” Malka tells FastCoExist. “This is a failure of the housing system as we know it. We’ll be facing in the years to come more climate refugees, more political refugees, and the city will have to stand massive amounts of people coming.” Malka told FastCoExist that he returned to the site in October and found that mostly the tents were inhabited by young travelers, which weren’t quite his target market, but still he hopes the project inspires people.
Images ©Stéphane Malka