The Billboard house is a spatial research tool developed to research the use of public space in the neighborhoods Venserpolder, Bijlmer Centrum and Gaasperdam in Amsterdam Zuidoost. The area houses 140 nationalities of which substantial populations of Caribbean and West African descent. All these nationalities come together in the public spaces of this part of Amsterdam. In and around the shopping centers groups of adults meet each other on a daily basis. In theory this would seem to be a normal function of public space, but in this case the local municipality qualified these groups as specific cultural entities, namely ‘hangvolwassenen’. The term ‘hangvolwassenen’ euphemistically refers to people of color in public space.
The Billboard House, a temporary spatial design, is a billboard that houses a small research team and a poster making facility that was placed in the three neighborhoods.. The first layer of the public billboard has five posters with different visuals of what can be considered an act of ‘hangvolwassenen’, ranging from office workers eating lunch in the area to men hanging on corners. This first layer is a talking tool. It invited onlookers to question and asses what it is that they are seeing. At the desk of the billboard house people could start the conversation with the research team present. Here issues of what public space exactly is, for who it is, who and what is considered appropriate to appropriate space and if there even is such a thing as ‘hangvolwassenen’ and if so what their impact is on public space was documented and distilled into posters quoting the participants. These posters were then wheat pasted onto the Billboard house façade and in doing so the conversation became publicly layered and communicated.