The concepts of unity and the whole are interesting, especially with regards to the area of Arrecife. A space that is currently isolated, unlinked to the surrounding urban fabric, but which treasures potential when changing and reading this from the perspective of an urban re-generation operation. The idea of the architectural object as an isolated element has no place here if one does not previously consider the interrelation present between object and site.
ArrecifeLAB is a space for the creation, production, research and dissemination of projects through active collaboration. It can be defined as a sociocultural “cluster”: an open platform where one can experiment and alter creative and cultural production processes through the teaching and development of projects. Here different mediums and forms of participation, exchange and collaboration between individuals with diverse profiles, scientific, technical, artistic and levels of specialization from experts and beginners are encouraged. The notion of learning by doing through different workshops, and learning through knowledge, as a result of research, thought and critical reflection are essential.
Education is organized by different levels of studies and activities, establishing itself as a single center and integral reference within the international cultural industry.
ArrecifeLAB “defines” a place that allows one to investigate novelties that explore new forms of creation, production and commercialization, fostering the relationship between professionals in the creative industries and the general public. Its users are students, researchers, professionals and amateurs from different fields that include art, technology, design, engineering, physics, biology, history, sociology, anthropology, education, communication, etc. Through a multidisciplinary approach the center aims to increase synergies revealing the potential and creativity of discipline encounters.
How is this translated into an architectural and urban model? How can free space conform both the ‘interiors’ and the buildings themselves?
At a broad scale, the architectural ensemble relates to the urban environment and acts as a hinge between the two spaces – the industrial city to the north and the saltworks to the south. The project inhabits the line that separates them, generating horizontal relationship spaces within vertical levels of connection. A closer staircase, you look as far as possible, go unnoticed in the landscape, leaving the salinas charge all the leading role in the area. The constant intention is to maintain the set of salinas with their original value in the salt heritage of the island, therefore, the areas linked to them are reclassified, maintaining their cosntructive integrity through their reconversion into a large urban park.
What prompted the project?
Whilst analysing and researching the enormous (enormous in relation with the insular territory) salt industry of the Canary Islands developed during the last century, I stopped to reflect upon Arrecife, Lanzarote. This is the biggest center of salt production of this island, a site which is closely related to the port, and the culture fishing. Having previously explored other Arrecife urban issues, I decided that this would be a good occasion to develop a project rooted in the heritage of these islands, with the aim of creating an updated urban renewal model.
What tools did you use to research, record and map data analyzed and recorded?
I spent a lot of time trying to understand the culture, both past and contemporary, the territory, and the interrelationships between these, from a general scale (relationships between citizens and the city and it boundaries, general data to an whole island layer), to that of the district.
In order to understand all the different layers which constitute the area and the larger scale of the environment, I recovered data from books, old maps, local testimonies, archival sources and official urban planning documents and projects. This was then analysed, processed, ordered and drawn manually without the use of specific mapping tools.
How important was the diagram as medium?
The diagram is a very important tool. Diagrams are a very effective way of visualising a project especially when it comes to the initial ideas which shape and direct the project hindering us from losing our ‘foundations’. Although most of the initial diagrams and first schematic visualisations were subsequently worked throughout the later stages of the project, they effectively show the project as conceived from the very early phases.
What case studies / books did you look to as prior models for the project?
It is true that our necessity to confront and research the medium of the book has drastically reduced in the last few years. Our access to internet and its multitude of websites has reached a new level, nowadays we can easily find compelling images and projects on Pinterest, whilst new Instagram and Facebook accounts dedicated to architectural references and projects are created daily, simultaneously online magazines feed us with real time architecture news.
For me going to the library is a stimulating experience which is also endorsed by the university/academic environment, however it is a fact that everyone consults –more or less– new media sources of knowledge by the minute in light of the fast velocity at which news and information travel.
In terms of sources of inspiration, I am inspired by architects as Campo Baeza, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhas, etc. as well as by the work produced in the early days of the AA of London, by the reflections of Bernard Tschumi on complex diagram as well as Price and Friedman’s indeterminacy architecture essays. Nowadays I find stimulating contemporary worldwide architecture competitions as I see them as an opportunity of challenging fresh ideas.
What is your take on the hyper realistic render? What defined this as medium though which to reveal the spaces of the proposal?
I consider that a powerful realistic image, especially when well produced in terms of subject, composition and light can exceptionally express the intentions of a project. The render is able to instantly attract the observers’ attention whilst allowing for many layers of information to overlap in a single frame, triggering his curiosity and desire to discover more. Fundamentally it the best way to introduce the audience to the real project.
To what extent could the realm of digital tools explore the potential of sharing further? How could this be incorporated within the architecture of the project?
I think these should not be limited to the scale of architecture as explored by this research, but rather be also challenged at the level of the city. Technology and new digital tools are part of our lives, so, we and architecture must not only acknowledge this phenomenon but rather integrate this within our urban contemporary life.
How is it that devices and software need to be updated by the hour, however we continue to plan cities and buildings as we did almost fifty years ago? What interests me thinking about the future, is the development of a connection between technology and architecture far from the oversaturated “internet of the everthing” city, or the “extradomotic” home, a middle point where really good technological advances can be implemented at the service of citizens – and not the reverse.
Are you interested in exploring this thesis or theme further?
It is a long road, but no doubt these will soon be the future boundaries of architecture. The questions we need to raise are about innovative and efficient technologies which respond to real societies in a constantly changing world.