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UCJC | Encarnación y el Máster en Arquitectura y Energía 2015

Category: ⚐ EN+⚐ ES+architecture+arquitectura+colaboraciones+educación+sostenibilidad+sustainability

DSC_0495 rec

⚐ ES – Como ya comentamos anteriormente, desde el pasado mes de Octubre nos hemos incorporado como docentes en el Máster en Arquitectura y Energía (MAE) en la Escuela de Arquitectura y Tecnología UCJC.  

El MAE, en su VI edición, profundiza en la nueva suma de conocimientos para la gestión de los recursos, la reducción de la demanda energética y el aprovechamiento de las fuentes renovables en el actual contexto global de crecimiento asimétrico y agotamiento de los recursos, que supone un 40% de la energía consumida en el mundo.

En este contexto, se ha optado por trabajar en una ciudad con una vocación por diminuir su gasto energético como es la ciudad de Encarnación, Paraguay, a través de su Plan de Desarrollo Sustentable en el que llevamos trabajando varios meses. Todos los departamentos del Máster y sus diferentes asignaturas trabajarán en esta ciudad investigando soluciones bioclimáticas para viviendas sostenibles, sistemas constructivos pasivos, un urbanismo en red o fuentes de energía alternativa, con las que encontrar soluciones extrapolables a otras partes del mundo.


⚐ EN – Last October we joined as faculty at the Master in Architecture and Energy (MAE) at the School of Architecture and Technology UCJC.  

In the current global context of uneven growth and the depletion of resources, the construction sector accounts for 40 per cent of the energy consumed worldwide. Any work carried out on the land, be it urban, architectural, infrastructural or landscaping, should include strategies for resource management, the reduction of energy demand and the use of renewable sources. The sixth edition of MAE looks in depth at this new body of urgent and essential knowledge, identifying the tools needed to create a development model that is compatible with environmental balance.

We have chosen to work in an emblematic city in terms of energy consumption and new sustainable policies: Encarnación, Paraguay. For the last few months we have been working on the Urban and Territorial Planning and Sustainability Plan for the city, making of Encarnacion a pioneer case study in sustainable urban development.

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What does it all mean for an architect? Geography, “soil and blood”, I mean. Is it destiny?

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture

Luigi Ghirri, Marina di Ravenna

Today we publish an article written by Nathan Romero Muelas, a Spanish architect living in Denmark for more than ten years now. The article has been published in the danish blog

Immigration is setting Europe in a defensive mode, a state of mind that politically ranges from reluctance to paying lip service to universal solidarity. At the same time, we architects, and not only in Denmark, are busy again with questions of national identity and cultural legacy. Within academia and other architecture institutions, eyes are turning inwards to examine, for instance, all things “Nordic”. There are seminars galore on Nordic urbanism, or for example, on the possibility of a Nordic high-rise.

I’m interested in the timing of these two phenomena. Introspection is important. I guess societies, like human beings, need periodic diving into the oracular “know thyself “ of the Greeks. It usually happens when they feel questioned, or under pressure. I would like to know if this insistence in what we are, (Nordic or whatever), shares this menaced condition.

There have never been so many foreign architects and architecture students, working and living in Denmark. However, how different the situation, the mood, from not yet fifteen years ago, when I first arrived in Denmark. The Europan competition, the Erasmus program: Europe seemed open and enjoying, if I’m not mistaken, a moment of expansive optimism. Today foreigners populate our studios, working as interns mostly, in economic conditions at times worse than their Danish peers. They resemble more the southern immigration of the sixties, a working force that for some threatens the professional establishment, the architectonic version of the very publicised Polish travelling construction workers in Denmark.


But home is best 

In a refreshing essay, (“Drømmen om de smaa samfund”, 1977), Steen Eiler Rasmussen lucidly demolishes the myth of a well functioning small society. He remembers a priest during the German occupation of Denmark. After having spent some time at the Frøslev concentration camp, this priest praised emphatically the experience in the camp. It was a humane experience he wouldn’t have liked to miss: under a common pressure, facing a common enemy, solidarity, mutual care and….a certain cosiness (“hygge”), flourished!

The Biannual competition Europan, with all its limitations and flaws, is a visionary idea, the perfect antidote to nationalist architecture. In the next edition, Denmark has decided not to participate. I imagine there are well founded motives, and surely unrelated to my reasoning here. But let me propose a perverse motive, for argument´s sake: the outcome of Europan is uncontrollable, in principle everybody can win. There follows a compromise, (sadly a weak compromise, in some countries), to build the winning project. Now, let’s say a Chinese architect wins. Frankly folks, what can a Chinese architect possibly know about the arcane secrets of Nordic light? And more importantly: where do we fit this Chinese in the promotion politics of Danish architecture?


Photo: Kim Høltermand

Soil, blood and onions

Ever since I arrived to Denmark I have had the unsettling words of the Spanish architect Jose Antonio Coderch at the back of my mind. In 1960 he wrote an essay-manifesto, which was interesting, coming from the most individualist of architects. Its title was It is not geniuses we need know. In it, he wrote: “Let architects work with a rope tied to one leg, to stop them from staying too far from the earth where they have their roots, and the people they know best”. It made then a lot of sense: facing the all pervasive international style, it was a call for attention to the remainder of local building traditions but also hints at the idea that the artist, the architect, should only talk about what he knows well. And that meant then his origin. Despite of his connections to the Smithson’s, his belonging to Team 10 and winning the Milan Triennale golden medal in 1951, Coderch never really left Barcelona. But today I would argue that the exception is an architect that spends his entire life in the place he was born.

I go back to Altea, the Mediterranean town where I was born. I haven’t been here for a long time.  Instantly upon arrival, I realize I’m home. That is, my body does. It remembers. The pine trees, the agave, the hills. And, yes, the light, different from any other, and very dear to me. But then I realize that I have spent more time in Copenhagen or Madrid than in Altea, which I left at thirteen. What does it all mean for an architect?  Geography, “soil and blood”, I mean. Is it destiny?

I start thinking about notions like Mediterranean, and then Nordic. These are rich, multilayered concepts, and deserving all the scholarly attention they can get…provided we understand that we will not find a single valuable work of architecture that is pure, that isn’t changed, enlivened by the crossing of frontiers. Jacobsen, Aalto, Asplund, Utzon, carry their Mediterranean experience all through their work.  Sota, Fisac, Moneo, (who worked for Utzon), were in turn transformed by the Nordic lesson.


Because despite my beloved Coderch and today’s pushers of national architectures, architects do choose now the soil they live and work on. Unlike onions.

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looking at the invisible side of cities | the role of relationality in the urban context

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+research+urbanism


Today we publish a text written by Claudia Scholz and Louise Brandberg Realini.


What is the surrounding that influences the way we evaluate and imagine a single architectural building? The following text sets the stage for the interdisciplinary research project The role of relationality in urban transformation processes, about the conception of space and time in urban transformation processes. The study was driven by the question how the relational texture of a city influences urban transformations and how these transformations in turn change the city’s relational web over again. The text looks at the definition of the relational texture.

A building can never be isolated from the environment that surrounds it; and that does not merely include the landscape, which visually embrace the site, but also the images born out of diverse associations, all of which are legitimated by reasons of sensations. Memories and affections existing only in our imagination are not less real or of less importance. Their visual absence in the material world does not prevent them from influencing our behaviours and judgments in the same manner as physical objects do. We walk along streets for the most irrational reasons: for a particular bakery, a past encounter or just the way it makes us feel. Sometimes places become associated with an event, and we treasure them for that rather than for their form. Even if the proper buildings are gone, the memories linked to them may live on and continue to influence us. At other times, the arrangement of buildings may have become lived up with meaning. The buildings do not matter themselves but only as a configuration. Space in-between them makes them meaningful.

Beside the ‘invisible’ reality a single site may have, we also need to consider the ‘invisible’ relationships that every site has with its surrounding. Sometimes other sites are used to explain a specific situation; sometimes other sites make important issues more evident. Sometimes also buildings in their development process can be changed by their context, as the situation in itself could alter the building welcoming it to the context or rejecting it. Discussion around apparently unrelated objects may push the development in one or the other direction.

Hence, before intervening with something new in an existing network we need to understand and make sense of the situation we are in, what the surrounding is like beside its emblematic manifestations, its famous monuments, what are the visible and invisible relations, past and present ones, that may act on the new projects. Our thought is that in the ‘invisible’ we find important hints on how to handle transformation processes, set up projects and cues from which a particular architecture, something new, may emerge.
We would like to offer another view on the urban reality that may help to ground projects on the stories, not only the histories, of places. It is a loose framework for the design of architectural intervention, one that includes other views beside the one of the architect, the planner or the investor. The thought is to inspire architects and planners to generate new projects that emerge from within as being part of an existing reality.

The challenge therefore is to come up with something that would surface the underlying and rather ‘invisible’ relationships and reveal the finer nuances of our environment. These nuances escape the conventional reading of space and are not easily captured with the traditional tools of the architect. Synthetic observations rarely illuminate all existing dimensions.

To trace the invisible, the complicity and imaginative gift of the citizenry must be taken advantage of. Thus, we need to interview them about their day-to-day life, about their way of looking at the built environment. Starting with more personal questions as a way to warm up and to get to know each other, then we may question more general questions: What do they see? What do they cherish? Where do they pass day-after-day? Which places serve the people’s well-being? Which are their affective places? Is there something that could improve their quality of life? Afterwards we need to be more specific in regard to specific sites asking rather specifically for their perception of them: Do they know them and what do they think of their relationship to the surrounding? What followed should be a 10 to 30 minutes’ walk, where citizens show us a piece of their city bringing us to sites they like or even dislike, to places they often walk by or find particularly interesting in Lugano.

We end with a wide collection of urban stories: from a child’s accident on the main square, the routine of nightly walks in an inner urban green valley to the last singular tree along the lakeside, that subsequently can be coded to one of the five temporal time-frames (see table time-frame). It offers an understanding for which places may be altered and to which point, what would be welcomed and what would probably be rejected.

The urban stories are not only personal episodes. Many of the stories also belong to others or might have been experienced by others. Hence, they have a higher collective significance and are more present in the collective memory. These ‘collective places’ are not only conventional representative places, but also smaller venues like bars, bakeries and nameless streets.

An emotional colored map will emerge around the objects of investigation, where also series of links among sites become evident. These may help to understand its surrounding and hence, frame future intervention. This vision is another reading of today’s reality, where sites – beyond functionality, form and usability – represent the territory from the citizens’ point of view with its atmosphere, its emerging problems and themes. More than a must follow manual it is ‘food for thought’ that may help architects to take position, build structure and unite diverse parts of reality. It wants to unfold the values of those we build for today. Ignoring them, we risk that our designs are rejected or misunderstood. These values need a continuous assessment because as society change, also our behaviours change. To bring it further and work with digital tools would be a next step to do.

More information:
Scholz, C. & Brandberg Realini L. (2012) Multiple perceptions as framing device for identifying relational places, Swedish Design Research Journal, 2: 38-45

CLAUDIA SCHOLZ (March, BArch) and LOUISE BRANDBERG REALINI (March, BArch) are both
co founders of CODESIGNERS, a Lugano-based studio for architectural designs, strategies and research. The studio is involved in landscape design, strategic planning and consulting.

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New workspaces, connecting the physical and digital spheres

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+competitions+creativity+ecosistema urbano+research+technologies


During the past months, in the framework of a shortlisted competition for a new working+retail space in the Middle East, we developed a research about the possibilities of contemporary workspace and how the digital layer influences the physical configuration, enhancing and multiplying the possibilities.

Last Fall we were teaching at the Master in Workspace Design at IE University, leading the Technology Lab; so this exploration became a continuation of our previous research and work.

We have been studying the contemporary way of working / thinking / living, analyzing the current phenomena affecting the spaces where the working activities take place. We believe that the digital revolution and contemporary socio-political dynamics call for reflection on the way we work. Spaces and instruments for working, methods and hierarchies, places and distances have all been brought into question. Beyond and around working, there is an ongoing change of paradigm that involves almost every aspect of culture and society. The way we address and manage processes, products and knowledge is evolving aided by new technological possibilities and critical “meta” reflections: From competition to collaboration and cooperation; from centralization to P2P; from pyramidal structures to grassroots, horizontal ones; from professional secret to transparency; from private R&D to crowdsourcing; from intellectual property restrictions to copyleft and free/open source initiatives, from well finished products or services to open roadmaps that embrace perpetual beta…

Our research focused on the following challenges:

How can architectural, physical work space, aided by its digital equivalent through hybrid interfaces, incorporate those emerging ways in order to support further exploration?

How can we, architects/designers, provide the best built environment for these emerging impulses to become fully developed?

Our philosophical approach divided the subject into three main spheres of research:

+ The Physical Sphere
Understanding the contemporary workspace as an innovative and experimental balance between design (size, material, color, behaviour, structure, relative position between elements,…) and conditioning (hygrothermal comfort, privacy, noise levels, lighting,…) to be implemented so as to be responsive and truly supportive.


+ The Digital Sphere
We focused on the digital “cloud” associated to each space to enable experimental environments, unprecedented interactions and ways of communicating, or wider, faster, more open-access to knowledge. We considered the digital sphere in workspaces as a unique open environment, extremely user-friendly, flexible and customised according to the specific circumstances it will be used for: supporting internal work, influencing digital marketing strategies, involving customers and external visitors, instigating social activities.


+ Physical-Digital Interaction
We design spaces that enable the best interaction between users relying on a physical comfort and the digital layer. We focus our work on how mutual management, communication, control, connection and interaction can work between the physical and the digital. This specifically involves physical interfaces that operate on the digital side and digital interfaces that influence the physical space.

DIAGRAMA workspaces-03

In order to achieve the integration of physical and digital spatial configuration, we developed a design strategy around four main actions we believe as relevant for an innovative workspace:

4 actions

– Inspiring
Innovation requires firstly an inspiring environment in order to provide an experimental incitement to creativity through different channels.
We believe in the possibility of feeding creativity through a series of activities that inspire our brain and stimulate it to go beyond boundaries and create big ideas.

– Well Being
A workspace should provide a high comfort level for the people using it. The environment should be equipped with all the facilities that ensure the best ambience for every particular situation and need.

– Challenging
Being satisfied by its own conditions, sometimes is not the best way to bring innovation. The only possibility to improve is going beyond and accepting challenges. In the contemporary work scene, innovation is an indisputable fact. But, for instance, how to stimulate a company that is already in the innovation sector to exceed and excel constantly? We believe that a good training in accepting new challenges even in the small everyday things could help a lot. Through simple dynamics that boost self confidence, cooperation between members of a team, enthusiasm towards the new and unknown and establishing an informal and playful way to invent new solutions for everyday issues as well as exceptional conditions is an excellent way of ensuring high levels of performance.

– Networking
We believe the strength of a successful company is in the quality of its structure and components, but just as important is the network that is able to create, expanding its connections and sharing an learning with/from others.

We keep this line of research open. So, if you want to contribute with it, by sharing a paper or article around the topic, we will be happy to publish it, to spread the ideas and inspire others!


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Archiprix International – ecosistema urbano takes part in the Awards ceremony

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+creativity+ecosistema urbano+events+urban social design+urbanism


In the past two weeks, Madrid has been the capital of the most innovative and vibrant ideas coming from the academic environment worldwide. In fact, Madrid was chosen for the 2015 edition of Archiprix International, a biennial event that involves all schools worldwide in Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture to select their best graduation project.

The event consisted of two sections:

Towards a middle-out urbanism

All participants were invited to participate in the Archiprix International workshop, that took place at ETSAM. These best graduates from around the world form a unique group of young talented designers. From surgical interventions to visionary statements: the best graduates from all over the world were invited to Madrid and challenged to develop plans and design proposals in a multidirectional approach to the city. The workshop was conducted by DPA-ETSAM and Los Bandidos AG and tasks were led by emerging local practices.


We were invited to be part of the jury to evaluate the projects resulted from the 7-day workshops and to present our overview and conclusions about this work during the final Award Ceremony that took place at Cine Callao on Friday May 8th.


In our talk we reflected on the topics that emerged throughout the different proposals and groups. In addition to this, we presented our vision of how designers and architects need to equipe themselves to be able to deal with contemporary urban issues, what we understand is the new designer’s role and the importance of incorporating new tools in architecture.


Belinda Tato talking about the variety of topics related to architecture


Jose Luis Vallejo explaining the concept of “one-man band” in architecture


Iñigo Cornago talking about the importance of bottom up actions


Four projects from the Archiprix workshops

Archiprix International Madrid 2015

Extensive presentation of the world’s best graduation projects, selected by 351 schools from 87 countries.


Map of participants in Archiprix 2015

The jury comprised Eduardo Arroyo, Luis Fernández-Galiano, architect and editor of Arquitectura Viva, Anupama Kundoo, architect with her own practice in Auroville (India) since 1990; Zhenyu Li; and French landscape architect Catherine Mosbach. The jury reviewed all submitted entries at the ETSAM | UPM – Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the co-organizer of the eighth edition of Archiprix International. The jury nominated 21 projects for the Hunter Douglas Awards and selected 7 winners out of these nominees.


Winners of Archiprix International

Here you can have a look at all the selected projects and the seven winning projects.

The 9th edition of Archiprix International -2017- will be held in Ahmedabad, India.

It has been a great pleasure to be part of this inspiring event and getting a chance to see and hear how the most talented architects are thinking throughout the world.

We wish all of them the best luck for their brand new careers!

More info about Archiprix 

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Dreamhamar, selected as BEST practice by the Dubai International Award

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+dreamhamar+ecosistema urbano+news

Best Practice Database

Best Practice Database

This week we come with some good news in a row! Some days ago, we were notified that our project dreamhamar has been awarded as BEST PRACTICE by the UN at the Dubai 2014 International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment.

The Spanish submissions to this award have been highly appreciated: 62 of them were labelled as GOOD practices, 17 as BEST practices and 2 selected for the international AWARD.

From now on, the project will be part of the UN-HABITAT Best Practice Database. It’s our third project to join that list, together with the previously selected Plaza Ecópolis and the Ecoboulevard. The project will also be showcased in the Décimo Catálogo español de Buenas Prácticas and added to the “Ciudades para un Futuro más Sosteniblelibrary, CF+S” online library.

Here is a short video about the methodology (Dream Your City) we used in the dreamhamar project in Norway:

You can find more about the project on the website and on the recently published book “Dreamhamar: A network design process for collectively redesigning public space”, which explains the project’s actions and methods in great detail.

See the previous posts about dreamhamar.

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Mad(e) in Mumbai | Urban practice in India

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+urbanism


In 2009 we had the pleasure to lead the final thesis projects of a group of international students taking the Master in Advanced Architecture at the IAAc —Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.

Among them, we met Kalpit Ashar, who developed as final thesis a project in his home city Mumbai, dealing with informality and social processes. I am happy today to introduce you to the work of MAD(E) IN MUMBAI, and the office established by him together with his partner Mayuri Sisodia. In their own words:

Made in Mumbai

Image: The Mumbai Report

The office provides comprehensive design services in the fields of public institutions, high density housing, environmental infrastructure, community design, landscapes and territorial planning. MAD(E) IN MUMBAI takes its shape in the madness of Mumbai city. This crazy patchwork of ideas, experiences and materiality becomes a repository and laboratory for the studio. It is a departure point for its speculation and practice.

Made in Mumbai

Made in Mumbai

Urban repository – Images: Mayuri Sisodia, Jacob Wilson and Ming Deng

They work closely with the chemistry of the city to discover potential fields of operation. The belief of the practice lies in looking beyond the visible for the unseen and for absurdities of things and places.

Together they have won many national and International design competitions which include Flood resilient Housing Design for Gorakhpur, Revitalisation of Banganga Crematorium, and Regional cultural centre for sustainable community by IAHH and Kalanagar traffic junction Urban Design competition by BMW Guggenheim lab.

Made in Mumbai

Aqueous commune, flood resilient habitats in the city of Gorakhpur

For example, Aqueous communes are flood resilient habitats in the city of Gorakhpur, a city in mid-Gangetic belt. They are Community built initiations that accommodate changing rhythms of Rapti river and make them part of everyday life of its inhabitant. They change imagination of water from an enemy to a friend and celebrate it and make peace with it through design. These aqueous communes multiply along the landscape to contribute to its resilience and develop into an intimately stitched neighbourhood.

Other works by Mad(e) in Mumbai

Other works by Mad(e) in Mumbai

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Some unpublished photos of Ecopolis Plaza featured in the book “Make_Shift City”

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+ecosistema urbano+publications+sustainability+urbanism

Last year, the Summer already burning over Madrid, a photographer went back to Ecopolis Plaza on an uncertain mission: to capture the life and spirit of the place, three years after the completion of the project.

The reason: the people from Urban Drift, working with the German publisher Jovis, had proposed us to include the project Ecopolis Plaza in their book “Make_Shift City – Renegotiating the Urban Commons” and asked us for some updated photos showing the life of the place. We realized we didn’t have nice, recent pictures of it,  so we called our favourite photographer Emilio P. Doiztúa and invited him to go and register whatever was happening there.

So there went Emilio, armed with some photography gear, and this is what he brought back:  the  images of a grown and lively  Ecopolis Plaza.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Time to go back home!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Relaxing in the shadow. Notice the tall macrophytes in the artificial lagoon.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

The slides are a great attraction

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Some teenagers hanging around…

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

… and, well, having some fun in front of the camera.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

A not so common point of view of the building

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

This is probably the first photo published from this side of the building!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Parents and children going to/from the kindergarden

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

For more pictures of this and more projects, you can get the book “Make_Shift City” here.

Makeshift implies a temporary or expedient substitute for something else, something missing. Make-Shift City extends the term to embrace urban design strategies. “Make-Shift City” implies a condition of insecurity: the inconstant, the imperfect and the indeterminate. It also implies the designing act of shifting or reinterpretation as a form of urban détournement.

In case you happen to be in Berlin in March, you will have the chance to attend the official presentation:

Wednesday, 19 – March 2014 –  19.00
AEDES auf dem Pfefferberg
Christinenstraße 18, 10119 Berlin

Make_Shift City: Renegotiating the Urban Commons
More info on Ecopolis Plaza, including these and more photos

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SPACE POTENTIAL: The luscious ingredient of architecture | Video Method PLES

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+creativity+research

How fatal would architectural discipline consider the idea to diminish the role of plans in spatial analysis and planning and acclaim the role of individual’s physical interaction with space through movement?

With the advent of the moving image, particularly within the new media, the notion of a precise reference image has become both relative and confused.1 Already in 1936 Walter Benjamin declared that since the beginning of the 20th century neither space nor time have been perceived and articulated the way they were from time immemorial.2 How we sense and perceive space is determined not only by our nature, but by historical circumstances as well.3 With the arrival of photography the relationship between reality and its representation was established anew.4 Photography announced the advent of the moving image, which gave rise to the further changes in our perception of space.5

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image: A.H.

The process of globalisation significantly changed the landscape of motion for the contemporary man. We may choose to travel at ever-greater speeds to any place in the world within a blink of the eye or we may choose to stay isolated in our domestic environment, connected to the rest of the world through the latest technologies. The need of the contemporary man to be informed about everything at any time and place is being fully satisfied with the expansion and evolvement of the new media, particularly of the moving image. If there is a medium in every epoch that stands behind the convergence of innovations and perceptual change, thus reflecting and impacting society at large, we can postulate that the moving picture is a visual reference for the contemporary representation of space.6

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

With the birth of the ever more rapidly moving man, we experience an extremely complex set of parameters that determine our daily choices and visions and delineate the reference frame to our actions. We are witnessing a situation in which we can see and experience space, urban or/and natural landscape, at different speeds and various times of day, be it through the windshield of a car, the window of an airplane, the screen of a mobile phone, or simply the TV screen showing the mesmerizing alpine grasslands selling us the new taste of chocolate.7 Phenomenon that sets both ourselves as well as our living environment in motion, impacts the relationship between man and his perceptual reality Christophe Girot calls: movism.8

Movism is the new visual theory of landscape in movement, dealing with the fleeting essence of our epoch. It forms a base for my creation of the Video Method PLES, using video as a possible tool for analysing, documenting and presenting Space Potential. The method is discussing interaction between an individual and urban or/and natural landscape, integrating a broad spectrum of viewpoints and stimulus, which can also appear distorted. Moreover, Video Method PLES is focusing on the notion that by moving through space we perceive and experience a variety of parameters, ranging from cultural, spatial and biotic habits all the way down to phonic, tactile, visual and kinetic parameters in the landscape. Due to a strong presence of motion in our day to day experiential reality, Girot claims that individual’s perceptions have become both relative and confused: some environments may appear extremely pleasant when experienced at certain speeds and become most disquieting at others. Considering that movism changed the relationship between individual and space to an extent, where it cannot be separated from our reality, it is utmost necessary to formally and aesthetically consider and integrate it in every design process to come.9

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

The moving image can enrich our perception, because camera has the ability of introducing us to the unconscious optics, as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.10 Moreover, it functions as an inclusive approach, blending direct physical experience and intuition with Space Potential research. As for the integration of the moving image into the design process, particularly to the Video Method PLES, I furthermost see it as a medium, which provides information by means of the peripheral, unfocused vision. Peripheral vision, as opposed to the focused vision, does not fixate and is opened for interpretation, moreover it has the capability to elevate our perception of space on a level of an existential experience.11 Peripheral vision is linked to individual’s subconscious perception, manifesting through our multisensory apparatus, reviving the information stored in our subconscious.12 The appropriate condition for perceiving Space Potential with our whole being, transforming it into a complete physical experience is through Spatial Sensuousness. It gathers information transmitted through ours senses, intuition, contemplation and reason, making an individual the locust of perception, experience and interpretation of space.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

The aim of the Video Method PLES is to analyse, document and present the complete spatial experience – Space Potential. It can be verified directly on the field of action, conveying qualities of a given place that are both visible and imperceptible, but nonetheless significant, for example stories, memories and chronology. Video Method PLES combines the scientific, quantitative approach with highly intuitive, experiential and contemplative approach. The name of the method “PLES” is a Slovenian word for “dance”, which symbolizes the interrelationship between the architect and space, produced through a dynamic interaction between the two. Furthermore, PLES is an acrostic of the four phases we follow sequentially: P-rimary, L-atent, E-xperimental and S-ummary.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

P-rimary phase presents the first contact between the architect and space – urban or/and natural landscape, whereby the interaction based on Spatial Sensuousness (information transmitted through senses, intuition, contemplation and reason) is established between the two. During the primary phase the architect is moving through the space, recording audio and visual information, using camera and microphone. The recorded material is not a reference for a clear and focused imagery, but documents the way architect experienced the intertwinement of existential and physical aspect of space. Primary phase represents the initial insight into Space Potential.

Video method PLES

Space potenital: Video method PLES, image: A.H.

L-atent phase evokes architect’s subconscious aspects of spatial experience. It begins when the architect returns to his or her primary environment and starts reviewing audio and visual material. Simultaneously, the architect notes down thoughts and concepts in a form of narrative monologue, which represents one reaction to spatial experience from the first phase.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

E-xperiential: In the third phase, analysis, classification and selection of representative audio and visual clips takes place, as well as the recording of the narrative monologue from the second. This is the most important phase, because the discoveries about Space Potential and the given project are adjusted and unified.

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

S-ummary: In the fourth phase the final video is created. It may become both a reference piece and a tool of investigation, nourishing architect’s Spatial Sensuousness, revealing one’s view of space potential of the location. Furthermore, the final video can be a starting point of an architectural intervention into urban/natural landscape, offering the architect a possibility to always return watching it in order to refresh the memory about Space Potential.

Video Method PLES,

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

I postulate that the moving image, video in particular, is a visual reference for the contemporary spatial design. The accessibility and immediacy of moving images that are captured and manipulated in video, bring us closer to sensual and experiential depiction of the fleeting contemporary environment, and above all to movement, which is the perceptual phenomenon and experiential reference of our daily life. At the same time, video is much closer to subjective and intuitive description of any given place than a plan, which is utmost scientific and precise, but succumbs to its two-dimensional limitations.13 At this point I would like to make clear that no matter how subjective, thus relative our observations are they have a direct impact on subsequent design choices for any given place. Architect is allowed to internalize the objective realm, because “the only way to reach the objective representation of reality is by comparing various subjective images”.14

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

Video Method PLES is a possible tool for analysing, documenting and presenting Space Potential, because it has the ability to capture and to present qualities of both physical as well as of existential aspect of space.15 It reduces the Euclidean space and gives us an opportunity to operate with the dimension of time, which reveals qualities of Space Potential that are otherwise difficult to capture, such as rhythm, stories, atmosphere, the passing of time and movement.16 Interaction with space with a camera, creating and analysing videos, enables architects and designers to acquire the understanding of the existential aspect of space, perceiving more of Space Potential. This enables architect’s interventions to be in tune with general spatial characteristics in cultural dimensions of the contemporary landscape and the inhabitants of the time being.

 Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image: A.H.

I believe that returning to space acknowledging the importance of the moving body and its multisensory perception and their inevitable interrelation with the subconscious way of interpreting space is necessary for identifying utmost of Space Potential. As architects we need to acquire the understanding of Space Potential in order to be able to carry out our spatial interventions wisely and knowledgeably. Considering that introduction to a site and interaction with it has all too often been reduced to systematic and quantitative formulas for analysing the site indirectly, from a distance, ways that do not grasp the potentiality of the reality we leave in. We need to accept and internalize both the conscious and the subconscious means of gathering information about Space Potential and reconcile our senses with the science.17

Video Method PLES

Space Potential: Video Method PLES, image A.H.

The aim of Space Potential Plarform is to trigger thoughts and induce actions, leaving enough space for individual engagement and interpretation of suggested directions. Sensing and perception are inherently subjective, the only correspondence to reality is the one that what we as humans agreed upon. However, I believe we may use architecture as a vehicle to enrich and create experiences and interpretations of space that will be shared among our fellow human beings, sparking further changes in our agreement about Space Potential.


1. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002).
2. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.
3. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Illuminations, Hannah Arendt, ur. (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 217-252.
4. Ibid, p. 59-67.
5. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Illuminations, Hannah Arendt, ur. (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 217-252.
6. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002).
7. Ibid
8. Ibid, p. 48.
9. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002).
10. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Illuminations, Hannah Arendt, ur. (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 237.
11. Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, Architecture and the Senses. (London: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 10.
12. Ibid, p. 10.
13. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 48.
14. Anja Humljan, video project at Aalborg School for Architecture and Design, department for Digital Design, Aalborg University, 2006.
15. Christophe Girot, Cadrages I. (Zürich: gta Verlag, 2002), 51.
16. Ibid, p. 9-52.
17. Christophe Girot, »Four Trace Concepts in Landscape Architecture«, Recovering Landscape, Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture, James Corner, ur. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999), 59-67.

Comments: (2)

Guidelines to build participatory and inclusive societies

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+art+city+creativity+placemaking+research+sustainability


In order to achieve the Post-Master called Urban Research Lab Sardinia – Environmental Design at the Università di Sassari (DAP), in partnership with the Dessau Institute of Architecture (DIA) of Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, an article will be published about the project made during the italian period, under the supervision of Ecosistema Urbano: Punto d’incontro.

This is an excerpt of the introduction, including some references and case studies.

The role of the architect

The role of the architect has always been, throughout ancient and modern history, a reference point for the city growth and development. Nowadays, this figure is undergoing a massive transformation, which cannot ignore social aspects. The modern architect helps to integrate production processes within the spaces users live and use in everyday life.

The article aims to present an experiment that was personally led in a very specific local community in Sardinia (Italy) which is affected by logistic, economical and management problems. Through theoretical studies and personal analysis of a variety of existing projects, a detailed process was drafted in order to suggest a strategic action plan.

Western society has scarce resources and the European architect often asks the following question, what can I do now without nothing? In this hard times, it is far more difficult for closed solution to be imposed by a power minority than for specific temporary actions to be applied based on grassroots talks, because sensitivity is high and social groups are highly resistant to accepting any changes which have not come from within their ranks. Ecosistema Urbano (2011). “Negotiating at all level”. A + T 38. 120


Strategy & Tactics

The first input to the change came with the drafting of Agenda 21, a voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It emphasises that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development. The main goal is trying to involve the local communities in the construction process of the future of the cities. When public space is concerned, there are two ways to run over: strategy and tactics. Both are tools of equal value, but with different typology of method; they are usually known as top-down or bottom-up processes.

Tactics are actions which take place on enemy territory while strategy is always enacted on home ground. Which can lead to an immediate run-of-the-mill sharing out of roles: strategy is an instrument of power, tactics are used by citizens; strategy occupies space, tactics play out in time; strategy is used to control, tactics to protest. De Certeau, M.(1988). The Practice of Everyday Life. University of California Press

Recent developments of these concepts became well known under different name, but in essence they are all the same.

Tactical urbanism. It is defined as small-scale improvements in an effort to effect large-scale, long-term change.
Placemaking. It is the act of enlivening public spaces and places for the betterment of the community and its neighbors.
Participatory design. It is an approach to the assessment, design, and development of technological and organizational systems that places a premium on the active involvement of workplace practitioners (usually potential or current users of the system).

The following scheme represents the stages of the experiment:

The Iberian trip

There was the necessity to analyze the theory, exploring some case studies and finding some references. This processes are already very disseminated all over the world, especially in USA and north Europe, where the citizens have a great sense of community and cooperation.

Nevertheless this research focused on the Mediterranean area, in this particular case in the Iberian peninsula, where the lack of organization meets high quality and creativity, typical of the Latin culture. Some of the cases shown here are real established structures, others are spaces under construction and constantly changing. The connecting link is always one of active participation.
iberian trip_654


An urban fragment, kept hidden for years, is now returned to the city in the form of LXFactory. A creative island occupied by corporations and professionals of the industry serves also has stage for a diverse set of happenings related to fashion, publicity, communication, fine arts, architecture, music, etc.


El campo de cebada – Madrid

A group of neighbours called Distrito Centro promoted a temporary use of the vacant lof of a former public pool demolished in a district of Madrid, during the time in which the work planned for urban reuse was not to be carried out. The intention is that the space will accommodate all types of proposals/activities/projects (cultural, social, artistic, sport) for the use and enjoyment of the people of the district and all the city.


Matadero – Madrid

The old slaughterhouse and livestock market, where Matadero Madrid is now located, was built according with the project of the architect Luis Bellido. The site was architecturally transformed.
Matadero Madrid’s mission is to promote creation in all its forms and expressions. With special attention to cross-sectorial propositions, it focuses on three main action areas: training, production and dissemination.


Fabra i Coats Creation Factory – Barcelona

Fabra i Coats is a multidisciplinary space which will be promoting artistic hybridisation to become a point of reference in artistic research and in the generation of new quality contents, as well as a meeting point for groups, creators and proposals from different spheres and backgrounds.
The goal is to give support to artistic creation and it has workspaces for the performing arts, music, plastic and visual arts, multimedia creation and also for projects related to information and communication technology.

fabra i coats

Sometimes these kind of actions are not supported by a physical space, but by the people that build their spaces through some collective iniziatives, occasionally supported by a politician organization or made by self-funded artistic groups.


It is a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development. They enable cities to work together to develop solutions to major urban challenges, reaffirming the key role they play in facing increasingly complex societal changes. URBACT spans over 500 cities, 29 countries and 7,000 active participants.


Collectif ETC

Born in Strasbourg in 2009, this collective gathered energy around a common dynamic questioning of urban space. Through different means and different skills it wants to be a medium for experimentation. They believe that the different users of the city (residents and professionals) can all be involved in its development to a wide range of scales. The purpose and importance of these urban experiments is not only the result but also the process that generates it, as well as the new environment and new behavior it generates.

colletif etc

Boa Mistura

It is an urban art group formed at the end of 2001 in Madrid, Spain. Its members have diversity of perspectives, distinct visions which complement each other, and combine to create something unique and coherent.

boa mistura

Madrid Street Art Project

It is a noprofit association that through the organization of various activities and initiatives (urban Safaris, workshops, lectures, recovery rooms) aims to contribute to these reflections, to encourage citizens to enjoy urban art, contribute to its dissemination and support its creators.

madrid street art project


The final article will aim to give some semi-scientific guidelines to build participatory and inclusive societies. The new frontier of the architect should be to drive local communities in the management of public and private space, involving them in the construction process of the urban renewal. This is when the architect, as a highly knowledgeable technician, plays an essential role to mend the relation between politicians and common people.