The plan is to make a “string of beads of special objects” in the Edisonstraat. “Interventions” that, as they say, “put the neighbourhood on the map in a different way.” They must be “sculptural… specific and expressive… opinionated and explicit.” However it’s far from clear that a series of artistic experiments would help solve the problems of Woensel West; it’s also rather risky, given that sheer expressiveness in built form – beautiful but meaaningless – is very transient. Especially at the site near the Baekelandplein, between buildings that are fairly abstract modern buildings themselves – a sculpture would be lost here, powerless.

If an expressive object must be built, then it should be an object that doesn’t stand out at first glance. An object that only speaks when you look twice. Something familiar, that only suggests its secrets when you look more closely. Something that already has meaning in itself. A ready-made.

Ready-mades exist in architecture. An example is Adolf Loos’ entry for the Chicago Tribune Tower Competition in 1922. A pure ready-made, including a villainous pun; Loos had designed a “column” for a newspaper.

In 1920 Marcel Duchamp had a miniature French window made by a New York carpenter and put it on a pedestal. He called it “Fresh Widow”, a clear pun on the word for the object. He signed it with his female alter ego Rose Selavy. In later versions he added an “r” which made it Rrose Selavy. A little light-blue set of windows, sweet almost. An everyday, familiar, architectonic object; perhaps this could be put on a pedestal in the Edisonstraat.

However on looking more closely it is also a little grim. The windows are covered in black, shiny leather. This seems to have something to do with the widow in the title. Europe had just witnessed the First World War, which had produced quite a number of widows. Poignantly, many found themselves forced into prostitution.

Wait a minute: the Edisonstraat? The Baekelandplein? Woensel has a history of prostitution of course, now neatly – legally – centralised on the Baekelandplein. It might therefore seem inappropriate to erect these windows almost as a shop sign; to raise them on a pedestal with their poignant connotations.

Duchamp changed “Rose” to “Rrose”. In this way his alter ego phonetically became “Eros, c’est la vie”. With the sceptical Duchamp, sexual connotations are never far away, especially not when dealing with glass, windows, shop windows, seeing, peeping. Perhaps it is better not to deny the connotations and poignant episodes built into the history of Woensel.

A ready made of a ready-made. All it needs is a title. Rrose?

floorplan second floor

floorplan third floor

floorplan fourth floor

elevation front, Edisonstraat

elevation side, Baekelandplein

horizontal section facade