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placemaking | El Campo de Cebada

Category: ⚐ EN+placemaking+urban social design

El Campo de Cebada is a project carried out by the neighbors to incite the temporary occupation of the vacant lot in Cebada square in the center of Madrid.

If you live in Madrid, you probably had the chance to peek through the flimsy walls that shelter El Campo de Cebada. In the heart of the city, alongside the market in Cebada square in La Latina, the “Barley Field” – literal translation of “Campo de Cebada” – under the guise of disuse, oozes an unexpected welcome. After more than two years of bare cement and a great deal of joint effort, the vacant lot now blossoms with people.

From Arab cemetery, to actual square in the 16th century where the barley was sorted, to indoor market inaugurated in 1875 then replaced by the present one in 1962, to sports center built alongside the market in 1968, the site inherited a turbulent past. And yet, it is recognized as a place of commercial and especially, social exchange. Or it was, until in August 2009, according to an urban requalification program of the center initiated by the council of Madrid, the sports center and its public pool are demolished. Unfortunately, the city council is unable to raise the money for the new equipment, and the construction is delayed, leaving the neighborhood with an impenetrable square for an undetermined time; end of the story.

But after one year of silence, the empty space suddenly comes back to life. In September 2010 took place, under the direction of the Basurama collective, the annual event La Noche en Blanco: 21 activities to fill Madrid’s main streets with temporary occupations of public space, and reinvent our relationship to the city. Inspired by the slogan “Play on”, the Exyzt collective took over the vacant lot to put up City Island, a “temporary but lively public space to enjoy the shade of the rain forest and its lagoon”. For ten days, the neighbors had once again a place where they could simply meet, play, chill out and enjoy. As the event was coming to an end, and the “island” being dismantled, various discussions rose as to one concern: was the bursting activity following the one shot of City Island really meant to disappear again, pending for the vague promise of a new equipment to be fulfilled?

This is how the Field began to grow… ideas. Neighbors, members of local associations, stallholders of the nearby market, people of all ages and background, along with the Zuloark collective, gathered around the same ambition, get back the public space that was due to them. El Campo de Cebada became an association, a web page and a silent commitment. The process started with weekly meetings in the Onis bar, in front the vacant lot’s entrance, to compose a first draft of intentions before facing the city council. On the 1st of December was held the first meeting with the local authorities, and the real negotiations began. Meanwhile, the project was gaining interest and support among the local associations such as AVECLA and FRAVM, and arousing local curiosity. Several meetings followed, until on February 18th of this year, a temporary cession of the vacant lot was signed with the city council, and El Campo de Cebada opened its doors.

At the dawn of spring, under Concha Velasco’s silent oath “La vida por delante”, El Campo de Cebada started collecting ideas from the neighborhood, giving any proposal, activity or project of cultural, social, artistic or sportive nature, and of social purpose, the opportunity to come forth. Basic equipments, such as an electrical input and a multi-sport game court for local tournaments were quickly provided. Small chalkboards were placed at the entrance, to catch ideas passing by and communicate upcoming events. People started sharing questions, ideas and proposals on the web page. Weekly public assemblies were organized, along with the members of El Campo de Cebada association, to consider, review and schedule the different projects. Several ideas began to sprout.

Little by little, the once monotonous cement dressed with lively colors, work of some merry volunteer painters. The once vacant lot filled up with awkward objects: among others, mobile seats of all shapes, made from reused wood during the “Hand made Urbanism” workshop, conducted by  Zuloark with students from the Universidad Javierana de Bogotá, a shed on stilts, put up by Todo por la praxis, and shademakers made from wire rope and reused canvas by Basurama as an attempt to built shadows in the unfortunate solarium the place had become. And the once still and silent void came back to life.

Local festivities, meetings, events, tournaments… ever since its opening, El Campo de Cebada has rarely been at peace. This summer was set up an open-air cinema, and various concerts were held. Every Sunday, the Field fills with the melodies of Cantamañanas. El Campo de Cebada also became a shelter for “inappropriate appropriations”. A place of opportunity for social enterprises such as #edumeet, a twice weekly open meeting to debate on education, or Desayunos ciudadanos, monthly public breakfasts that take place in a street or square of Madrid to claim public space as propriety of the citizens. A meeting point where the community can discuss on the problematic situations regarding the neighborhood and brainstorm potential solutions, especially regarding the market’s and the new sports-center’s outcome.

But more than a place, or the climax of a specific claim, El Campo de Cebada is a process committed to participation, transparency and sociability, an experiment of placemaking between the citizens, local associations and political institutions. From seeding hopes, desires, and expectations, it is now bearing the fruit of a collective mobilization. But it doesn’t stop here. Harvest will come in time to gather new seeds, new farmers, and sow more cement fields among the many remaining in the city.

 

More photos in Flickr – El Campo de Cebada

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placemaking | Ooze

Category: ⚐ EN+placemaking+urban social design+video

Following our recent posts on Théâtre Evolutif in Bordeaux, a project carried out for Evento 2011 to temporarily occupy square André Meunier, this week’s placemaking post is dedicated to the architects Ooze, Eva Pfannes (Würzburg, Germany) and Sylvain Hartenberg (Paris, France).

placemaking | Ooze from ecosistemaurbano on Vimeo.

“Cities aren’t buildings, they’re people”.
– Luis Fernández Galiano

Ooze define architecture and design as natural organisms, ecosystems of interdependent elements belonging to a greater whole: a city, a neighbourhood, a home; an individual. “Architecture and design are vital forms of expression, capable of provoking a broad range of thoughts, experiences, sensations, emotions and memories.”

As architects, Eva and Sylvain have worked on different scales and projects – from exhibition designs and scenographies, temporary interventions and installations like Théâtre Evolutif in Bordeaux (France), Between the Waters in Essen (Germany) or the community garden and kitchen in Amsterdan (Netherlands), to individual housing, and urban scale planning like the Bottrop city development strategy in the Rhur region – including different fields and actors.


Between the waters – Community Garden, and autonomous water treatment system in Essen


Community garden and kitchen, and urban empowerment strategy in Amsterdan

“The process is not so much about designing as it is about emergence.”

As part of our placemaking series, we were particularly interested in these architects’ social commitment, supplanting common designs for a standard mass, to spontaneous and subjective interactions, and individual stories. Ooze describe their first approach of a place as “an archeological research” : what was here before, who is concerned with this space, and who is likely to become so? “The occupants and users of any given space bring their own stories to bear upon it. They draw upon these narratives – their backgrounds and perspectives – to continually recreate the environment in which they find themselves.” Then, architecture is about joining individual details in a larger entity, about building a collective memory around on-going process.

“The process is not so much about designing as it is about emergence.”

With regard to to such perspectives, Ooze was brought to recently participate in urban art festivals, like the Emscherkunst in 2010, and Evento in 2011. Indeed, working on ephemeral interventions allows a more experimental approach, disconnected from the usual official procedures that come with an architectonical project “With the art project you can allow yourself to advance without knowing the outcome”. It allows to experiment, aiming to understand the local and collective identity of a place and different individuals, by observing immediate and spontaneous reactions; then consequently react to real-time issues of the place. Then, the architects’ role goes beyond a punctual intervention, to settle a flexible process and encourage an “informal evolution”, in which people are involved.

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placemaking | Ooze talks about “Théâtre Évolutif”

Category: ⚐ EN+placemaking+urban social design

placemaking | We recently published “Théâtre évolutif” in Bordeaux the first post of our new series about placemaking, which is finally ready and will be published each Monday along the next two months. The following post shows some more images of the project and a short interview to Ooze, the architects that together with Marjetica Potrc co-designed and co-constructed it.

How were you brought to participate to Evento 2011, and especially to co-design the Théâtre Evolutif?

We recently participated in a number of public art on-site projects with Marjetica Potrc; in 2009 in Amsterdam and last year in the Emscherkunst 2010 with Between The Waters, the Emscher Community Garden. Both had a participative and multidisciplinary nature. Following these projects, in spring we were asked by the curatorial team of Evento 2011, “L’art pour une re-evolution urbaine”, lead by Michelangelo Pistoletto to work on Place Andre Meunier and collaborate with the artist collective Bureau d’Etudes on this location.

Théâtre Évolutif did not start as a concept as such but from the square, “Place André Meunier” – a place with a lot of history and a loaded past which had in time become almost a void in the city, not a place to stay, more a space to pass through.

In the team we came up with the idea to include the building site in the artistic concept. We decided to salvage the trees from this one and other building-sites in Bordeaux as well as the excavated soil. And most importantly we decided to build forth on the notion of the building site as an ongoing work in process and evolution.

How would you describe Théâtre Evolutif?

Théâtre Évolutif performs a collective action that demonstrates the cultural and physical remaking of the neighbourhood – an action that spans diverse disciplines and backgrounds. Through their direct involvement with the project, Saint-Michel residents are articulating a need for greater social innovation in the building of a sustainable city. They are giving new value to their identity with the neighbourhood and their commitment to it, even as they enact their vision of, as they put it, ‘how we want to live together’. For the municipal government, Théâtre Évolutif is a pilot project that tests a bottom-up approach to the design of the city.

Théâtre Évolutif is, fundamentally, a shelter and an agora, a place where groups and individuals can come together with a common purpose to engage with and learn from one another. Equally important, however, they can engage with and learn from the ‘relational objects’ of the Théâtre Évolutif – the open-roof structure, the water-supply infrastructure, the vegetable gardens, and the animals. For visitors to Evento 2011 Place André Meunier becomes a playground where they can discover and participate in examples of coexistence between urban life and nature, a laboratory where they see a new kind of city imagined and constructed.

The project is organized around three cycles: the dynamic cycle of citizenship (participating in the remaking of the public space), the human water cycle (the drinking water station and the public toilet), and the bio-dynamic cycle (interacting with the natural world for example, through gardening and beekeeping). The project enacts coexistence between the architectural site (“Chantier architectural”) and the social site (“Chantier social”).

What were your objectives and expectations, as architects and Evento guests?

Our objectives were to engage with alternative processes to remake the city based on bottom-up strategies, to look into a narrative which involves the residents, local associations and public authorities in the remaking of the square. For us it is very interesting to work on temporary art events as architects with the idea to extend the temporary work to a permanent one. We are very interested in the energy and the momentum that this type of event is bringing to a city to achieve results which normally would take much longer.

Architecture is by nature more permanent and therefore there is not much spontaneity and it is more political loaded with regulations which make the design and decision making process heavy. Art on the other hand, because of its temporariness can go a lot further to break more grounds in the physical, but also in the social. So with the art project you can allow yourself to advance without knowing the outcome, which in architecture you cannot afford because the stakes are higher and it is more frozen.

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placemaking | “Théâtre évolutif” in Bordeaux

Category: ⚐ EN+placemaking+urban social design

placemaking | What if an urban vacant space could turn into a social public space? What if the neglected brownfields that abound our cities were to become a means to social interaction, an urban catalyst of local ventures, a landmark? What if urban design turned out to be a social process? This is the first post of a new series dedicated to placemaking, to projects born in these urban gaps, grown from social participation and involved in sustainable urban development.

Théâtre évolutif - Sketch by the collective Bureau d'études

Théâtre évolutif, carried out by the Bureau d’études collective (France), the artist Marjetica Potrc (Slovenia) and the architects Ooze (Netherlands) invited to collaborate for the Evento 2011, is a co-designed and co-constructed landscape and architecture installation aiming to inspire the future design of André Meunier square.

In the heart of Bordeaux (France), alongside the main avenue Cours de la Marne and close to the train station, sits André Meunier Square, one of the city’s biggest public space and yet, vacant. Situated in St Michel, middle class district hosting mainly immigrants, this urban gap, despite many previous attempts of improvement, remains pending to be occupied. Today, along with an urban requalification program of the district, the square is expecting a radical transformation.

From the 6th to the 16th of October took place in Bordeaux, Evento 2011, an international artistic event. Under the slogan “Art for a re-evolution”, the experience gathered artists from all around the world willing to carry out innovative reflections on urban public space, through creative and social temporary projects. On this occasion, the collective Bureau d’études, think tank and main coordinator of the project in André Meunier square, the architects Ooze and the artist Marjetica Potrc were invited to set up a participation process to design an urban microproject. Local citizens, associations, collectives and volunteers were invited to collaborate for a collective brainstorming around the installation, aiming to inspire the public space’s outcome.

Photography by Pierre Planchenault for Evento 2011

Photography by Pierre Planchenault for Evento 2011

The design process began last summer, officially on July 19th, when participants signed a charter aiming to define common objectives and to engage the members in a common process of design and participation of what would become the Théâtre évolutif. The name of the project highlights two intentions: théâtre, meaning theatre, as for a place where a diversity of individuals may interact, and évolutif, meaning having the capacity to evolve with time and adapt itself to its surrounding, both physically and according to its use. Conceived as a template of urban ecosystem, the project combines a landscape and architectural design and underlines the will to inspire a flexible public space, open to occasional interventions and spontaneous use.

Construction began on September 2nd, gathering all members implicated in the project and two architects, Alan Gentil (from Bureau Baroque) and Marc Berbedes (from Bureau d’études Bois Structures). The project was gradually put together between the stubbornly standing do-it-yourself shed, the Cabane à gratter, built in 2008 from waste materials with Les P’tits Gratteurs association (actively working in the district since 2001) and the menacing municipal construction site of the upcoming parking lot, actually occupying ⅔ of the square. According to its environmental commitment, the structure was made with the trunks of the condemned trees of the adjacent construction, and other building sites in Bordeaux. Free of any determined function, it puts forth more than a space, a welcoming face and a potential of various uses and occupations, aiming to inspire long term involvement.

Photography by Pierre Planchenault for Evento 2011

During Evento, the Théâtre évolutif invited people to take part in workshops such as planting herbs or making “seed bombs”, weapons of mass plantation (with Friche and Cheap association), to enjoy a shady 5 meters high stroll in the treetops (with Adrenaline association), to learn about aromatic herbs and birdhouses along with Bernard le jardinier (from La Maison du Jardinier), to make herbal tea from the plants collected on-site, or even enjoy free collective meals… But what next ? Gabi Farage (Evento commissioner) underlines that the real outcome of the project wasn’t the “one shot” of Evento but relies in its capacity to evolve, hence its name. A closing event on October 15th gathered all the citizens implicated in the process to talk about the future: how can we, real users of the square, get involved in its outcoming design? Evento was just the first baby step of a social process of great ambitions.

 

Learn more Podcast Radio Grenouille “Éventail d’EVENTO #10 – Écosystème urbain”

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EU collaborators | Manon Bublot

Category: ⚐ EN+colaboradores+placemaking

Manon Bublot

 

Last week we were glad to welcome a new collaborator here at our office in Madrid.

Manon Bublot is an undergraduate student at the Architecture school of Montpellier in France. She studied last year in the ETSAM in Madrid through the Erasmus exchange program, and during that time she grew interested in social participatory processes as a transversal approach to design architectural projects.

She will be helping us with this blog, providing fresh content in English, highlighting the most interesting projects, professionals and collectives related to her (and our) fields of interest . We hope you enjoy her first series of posts about placemaking and related projects.

Welcome to EU, Manon! We hope you’ll have a nice time here with us.