Mental Charlois #1

sampling images of urban life in Charlois

A project by Giuseppe Licari and Cristina Ampatzidou

An one day workshop in ‘t Ot-je, the inner garden of Struitenweg 52-54, Rotterdam

A workshop revealing the individual differences in experience of Oud Charlois.

arial picture of Oud Charlois in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Perception is a primal element of our existence as it allows us to negotiate with our environment and affects our everyday actions and behaviour. A person’s perception of the world is known as a mental map. We have mental maps of our room in residence, our home, our neighbourhood, our town, the local supermarket, other places we have visited and even places we have never been to but about which we have acquired information from a variety of sources. These mental maps represent our knowledge of the spatial organization of our environment as well as information about the attributes which we associate with different locations or regions.

The workshop for Mental Charlois took place the 13th of July 2008, in ‘t Ot-je, the inner garden of a new artistic community in Oud Charlois, in the south Rotterdam. This part of city is currently under a big program of redevelopment. It is considered one of the most decadent areas of the city and the local authorities are putting a lot of energy in changing the urban environment.

The participants were inhabitants of Oud Charlois, who were asked to write down the places they visit in a normal day as well as the elements of their neighbourhood which they find significant or distinctive.
The second step was to draw the mental map of Oud Charlois. People had total artistic freedom to translate their texts and their perception of their living space. This generated a lot of different maps, personal and sometimes even sentimental, where the neighbourhood of Oud-charlois has been represented in different ways.
After the Mental Map, the participants had to trace on the real map their everyday movements, to locate the places the have mentioned before and describe the routes they follow in order to get there.
At the end, everybody was asked to draw the outline of Oud Charlois and to define the invisible line which defines the area of the neighbourhood.

The workshop brought people together and generated a discussion over the places each one uses or prefers. Even though the drawings are completely individual and different, anyone familiar with the neighbourhood can recognise his known spaces and share mental routs.

It became obvious that a big part of the people, living in Oud Charlois are spending most of their time in the centre, while there is another group that is spending all their life in the South of Rotterdam, almost without ever crossing the river Maas.

We are aware of the changes happening in Charlois, and the artistic gestures that aim to revitalize the public life in Charlois. We believe that this project can provide useful information, coming directly from the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, which can be used as the starting point for further initiatives.

Mental Charlois was supported by Stichting NRC, Stichting Kick and Stichting NAC

general view of the workshop space, the inner garden of O’t’je an artistic community in the South of Rotterdam

writing: the first step of the workshop: a participant writing down her everyday movement in the neighbourhood

The workshop was a great opportunity for the people living in Oud Charlois to gather together and talk over their neighbourhood.

An intention of the Mental Charlois was to bring together people of different nationalities that cohabit Oud Charlois.

The final step of the workshop: people had to trace their movements and favourite places on the actual map of the region.

Mental map: mental maps of participants. For some people their neighbourhood is actually made from the people they know, while for others their house is the heart of the neighbourhood.

mental map_ Thijs Ewalts

mental map_Gerard Jurgens

mental map_Kamiel Verschuren

mental map_Lisa Overmann

mental map_Martijn t' Velt

Charlois Outline:
The borders of Oud Charlois are not clearly defined in the perception of its inhabitants. Almosteverybody had a unique idea of what the limits of Oud Charlois are. The result of all maps is this concentrating map with the perceptive borders of Oud Charlois.

In the final stage people had to trace their movemants on the actual map. The overlap of all those individual maps creates a new pattern of street-use in Oud Charlois.

Exhibition following the workshop in Wolfart project space in Rotterdam

Giuseppe Licari is an artist living and working in Rotterdam, NL. His social and public work is focused in the alteration of space by interventions of different scale and the reaction or participation of the audience, which is always of central interest in his installations.

Cristina Ampatzidou is an architect and urbanist, living and working in Rotterdam, NL. She is interested in the ways people perceive and project space and has been involved in various international projects addressing the issue of perception of urban surroundings, sensorial design and bottom up design solutions.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9.2.10

    We started a blog on the Mental Charlois project and there is of course a link to your blog!!!
    you can find it here: