The intergenerational digital center is a project that stems from the idea of union between the past and the present as aworking idea.
The starting point is the concept of demographic projection, on which the principle of the project is centered, the mostlong-term projections that are handled are for the year 2063, so it is based on statistical assumptions that tell us that theSpanish demographic pyramid will tend to widen the gap between people over 65; which will increase, and that ofpeople under 14; which will decrease, to which a second variable is added, which is the assumption that technology willalso age even faster than the population, that is, the generic concept that combines the two branches of the project is theconcept of aging, aging of the population and aging of the technology that instrumentalizes, with all the social changesthat this may entail.
Currently the opportunity arises from these two problematic assumptions to investigate a possible typology that througharchitecture can cope with a certain situation that seems reasonably predictable and that now begins to show its firstconsequences, this situation is therefore the that we face a future of people increasingly older and less adapted totechnological changes and with few young people who, in addition to misusing it, are not willing to start a conversationwith people who do not consider part of their generation and its value system, and here is the problem, which is not amatter of transmission of knowledge, because knowledge is in the network, but a problem of transmission of valuesystems and loss of fundamental values that for centuries have been transmitted from one generation to another, thisdoes not mean that such systems are immutable, to On the contrary, each generation usually establishes a differentsystem, but always starting from a base that seems to be in danger of extreme mutation. Is this bad then?
Not necessarily, but it may be something that escapes our understanding, a spark that unleashes extremely unpredictablechanges, the idea is then to experience in a rural environment like Nuevo Baztán a new typology that is defined such as theIntergenerational Digital Center and which attempts to combine the current concepts of the Digital Center and theIntergenerational Center under one roof, generating a new concept that could take advantage of the demographicsituation of the immediate surroundings of the town to reverse the trend of the rural exodus and attract the young population to experience its streets and people, paradoxically with a hypertechnification, that is to say, it is intendedto generate an atmosphere in which all the content is presented digitally to attract youth to enter the slowness of a smallcity and Take advantage of this excuse as a resource for a generational approach.
What prompted the project?
The project arises in the research framework of the Master of Architecture of the University of Alcalá, where the starting point and provocation is that of the intervention in the old industrial city of Nuevo Baztán and with the speculative theme of post-industrial city, a new return to the rural scene, from a digital and postmodern point of view of the new means of production and the new needs of the starting context. It is in this context that interest in the demographic situation that surrounds the rural scene and especially the Spanish interior scene arises, where the possibility of proposing an architectural solution to the problem of population aging, and the escape of the population appears. youth to the great metropolis, which is generating towns and small cities throughout the country end up being true ghost towns full of history and heritage.
What questions does the project raise and which does it answer?
The project then raises questions such as the following: Is it possible to generate a social dynamic around a cultural building, which while rehabilitating the disused historical heritage, attracts new young users for the participation and enjoyment of its facilities? The architectural and programmatic response consists in building an extension of the existing heritage to configure a digital social center as a museum, where all the content would be presented through technological means, as the germ of a revitalization and subsequent development of the town and in order to reverse the situation of youth exodus and foster a generational approach. Is it possible to generate a hybrid program between an intergenerational social center and a technological museum? And if so, what would be the dynamics of operation of these facilities, in order to achieve the objectives at a sociological and economic scale, as well as the cultural and service objectives for the community? An intergenerational digital center is a physical and virtual space where, through the use of digital technology as an intangible channel of approach and generator of debate, it is intended to convert relations between these generations into the great guiding principle – although not the only one – of the life in that space, and where intergenerational relations are tried not only to happen in an organized way but also spontaneously, unexpectedly and naturally. This is achieved through the implementation of different communication environments that invite visitors to carry out this approach and enhance communication, these environments are nothing but a sum of multiple spaces and places where different synergies occur between generations, and where The content that is represented is also a cross-cutting theme. With these intentions of departure, and with a hybrid program, the expected dynamics would be generated, also taking advantage of the slow interpersonal relationships in rural environments in contrast to large cities.
You use the term 'hypertechnification', could you expand on this further?
The hypertechnification of the building is defined on the one hand in the choice of the best construction methods and materials for the maximum conservation of the intervened heritage and its optimal energy functioning; and on the other hand in the facilities that will generate the different communication environments mentioned above and where the architecture coexists synergistically with projectors and screens, speakers, data servers and network platforms, immersive spaces of virtual reality and 360, among others, and whose objective is to promote awareness of what it means to live in a world where individuals are simultaneously “users” and “creators” of digital culture. Therefore, this new conception of a museum should, in principle, reject the search for authenticity of the real object, in order to focus on its relationship with the global audiovisual object.
How would you define our current relationship and dependence on big data, both as individuals and as a society?
It is clear that the fundamental element of communication and cultural transmission is carried out through the internet and that the possibilities we have by having in our hand all the information we imagine in a very short time represents a transcendental advantage over the past, but the ways in which individuals generate and consume this information are unpredictable and are changing at extreme speeds, not only does the population age, but so does the technology and it ages at a much higher and dizzying pace, which demands more and more disposition of users to change and adaptability and the ability to learn and forget with much more speed, evolve and calibrate the ethical and moral dimensions of each new instrument while normalizing its use. All this is accompanied by a huge amount of data, data that is used and sold for very different purposes, data in which sometimes as individuals jeopardizes our privacy and dynamics for which the law still has no definitive answers, the owners of the Data is the new rich, information is power and power in irresponsible hands is dangerous for everyone, educating from the beginning in these matters is essential to explore the positive dimension of our instruments, individually we also generate parallel identities, avatars and projections of us themselves, whether in social networks or videogames, these projections leave a trace on the network and raise the question of what will happen to them when we are gone, do they belong to us? Or when we accept to create them, do we lose all control over them? . As a society, this data and this dependence on technology endangers cultural transmission, it seems necessary to continue maintaining information in more durable and less manipulable means, such as paper, in the face of an energy crisis situation, a large part of our heritage could be in danger cultural, in addition to dumping most of the media on digital media, it is easier to censor and control societies to repress and intoxicate them with false information. But not everything is negative, the correct use of this information would generate geopolitical, sociological and economic interpretations that can help predict where infrastructure is needed, what are the best ways to produce and how to avoid contaminating, prevent war, migratory and health conflicts, detect demographic problems and thus generate a better life for everyone.
What informed the necessity of a building for the project?
New Baztán presents an attractive social environment, where local singularity, the sense of place and the cultural heritage it offers us are valued against congestion and anonymity. An attractive space, with peaceful and cordial relationships that benefit the goal of rapprochement between generations and have a great sense of local identity. The ability to interrelate even in informal and spontaneous conversations, tradition, spaces in which it is possible to stop to talk, hospitality, the PLACE with all its thickness, its identity and its authenticity, as the perfect setting to experience the intergenerational debate . It is in this context that the idea of generating a forum building, an exchange and enrichment space and an activator of the economy and local development arises. The abandoned offices of offices of the palace complex are chosen as the place of intervention, where there is a need to expand and complete their characteristics in order to adapt them to new uses.
What defined the different design decisions for the latter? How does it cater and respond to the needs of both users?
This Rehabilitation and Restoration project has been carried out in the so-called “House of Crafts”, specifically, on the North Wing of this group of T-shaped houses that make up the North and East bays of the Town Square. It has been decided to demolish part of the perimeter walls of the north side with the aim of achieving more diaphanous and flexible spaces, completing the proposal with a metal structure of X-shaped pillars and lightened beams that form modules, which by way of teeth, bite and engage in the jagged shape of the pre-existing building to complete its volume, also projection spaces are introduced in the form of boxes and compartments without edges for exhibition and conference uses. The materials used in the extension, in front of the stone, the brick and the wood of the preexistence, are the metal the concrete and the glass, to work by contrast, the shapes of the facades, maintain a lower height than that of the palace to respect and underline it and acquire a jagged shape in a search for the northern light and as a reflection of its interior spatiality, finally in the last of these teeth, a fourth tower with energy purposes appears that dialogues with the other three towers of the palace operating at the distance as a new landmark that looks towards the olive grove and as a chimney that draws air from the underground cellars to introduce it into the building and thus complete its air conditioning. The needs of all users have been studied both at territorial level, to guarantee transport from peripheral cities and towns, and at a constructive scale to guarantee universal accessibility for all types of users and facilitate the use of their facilities, the program also it is segregated into three parts, a more public one that serves the people, an intermediate one, where all the exhibition uses would be, and a more private one that hosts the administration and technical support, deriving from them three types of circulations that coexist and complement.
How do you see the project developing through time?
I believe that, if the project were built today, it would reactivate a large part of the economic and social dynamics of the town, generating new commercial and housing needs around it and producing a growth in the percentage of young population it hosts, both in the work environment, as in that of users and visitors. Likewise, the characteristics of the project make it flexible to accommodate other uses, rehabilitate other spaces of the palatial complex, and even grow according to their new needs.
What is for you the architect's most important tool?
For me, the architect’s most important tool is drawing and representation through which he develops the ability to analyze and interpret large amounts of information, detect problems of various types and propose solutions at different scales.
Santiago Isaac Rodríguez Valcárcel (Arequipa-Perú, 1993). Architect graduated from the University of Alcalá (UAH Máster in Architecture – 2018) and currently established in Madrid.
With a strong interest in graphic language and the possibilities that representation offers, his latest research, motivated during his stay at the Technical University of Lisbon, enters the field of sensory; underlining the visual dimension of the human being, both in the abstract and representative component with which our interior produces maps, as the purest and biological perception that motivates our senses.
Likewise, his career is accompanied by interests and studies on the phenomenology of the built space and the social impact of architecture on the real and virtual plane.