Sketching and Collaging


Urban sustainable development in New York

The High Line in New York City is a continuous elevated bridge structure that has become an unique linear urban park. By definition, the High Line has created new relationships between building mass and, in certain local situations, has engendered new forms of urban infill. In urban terms, the redevelopment was identified as a catalyst for the regeneration of the whole Lower-West Manhattan. In response to this, the first approach was to consider any empty land surrounding the High Line and transform it into a potential development introducing new temporary uses that would transform gradually each area with minimum investment. By changing the rules of engagement between land use and community needs, the strategy combines sustainable and productive materials to slightly modify only the exterior of specific buildings with benign climatic conditions. The proposal focuses on repairing the street façades overviewing the High Line and establishing different environmental systems sewed to modular light-steel structures.

Hybrid Actions research project

“Spatial perception is subjective and creates new spaces in our memories. It doesn’t define limits. External conditions may influence it completely. It’s never the same and always temporary. A perceptive space doesn’t have boundaries because it’s made of sensorial data. When we think about space, we usually only look at what contains it, as if it was invisible.

A line is not only a straight path determined by a number of points that extend infinitely in two directions. It can also be defined as the graphic representation in the Cartesian coordinate plane of a Linear Function. If a linear function is a map between two vector spaces, we can define limit or boundary as the relation between interior and exterior spaces. Both spatial conditions are no longer opposites. In contemporary Architecture, there are no boundaries between exterior and interior. Partitions have many layers. A place is not only open or closed, public or private. These parameters mix and result in new in-between situations. More versatile, flexible, temporal and spontaneous.

One same place can be transformed into different scenarios and, at the same time, affect the events that occur in it. Different time frames that overlap one another in a confined space without colliding. Species of spaces. Not predefined for a single activity. Support spaces.”​


Who influences you graphically?

I am influenced by movies, art and photography. Some of my go-to artists whose work inspires me constantly are: Nigel PeakeJaako PallaksvuoLina Scheinus, Louise Bourgeois or Zbigniew Rybczynski. Every time I start a new project I go back and study some of their work as well as browse through pinterest or instagram for new sources. Lately I have been obsessed with office KGVDS and Estudio Viar architectural collages. Always inspirational are OMA/Rem Koolhaas early drawings and Bernard Tschumi´s Manhattan Transcripts.

What dictates the way through which you choose to represent proposal?

Each project starts differently. For me, the sources that I research at the beginning set the tone of the type of representation. It is related to the format on which the project is going to be presented; it´s not the same if it´s a power point presentation or a DINA0… I also get very moody in the first stages of a project so if I watched a movie or traveled somewhere and got inspired the images also reflect that. I usually start with mood boards and then mix them into collages which stay open until the very end.

What is your take on the collage as a tool which recomposes and gives new identity to fragments? How can one build their own identity through the assembling of other images?

As I usually start any project by researching and gathering references, collage has always been a useful technique of choosing bits and pieces of other ideas or projects and recomposing them in a new and subversive image. One same image can mean different things depending on the perception of each individual. Sometimes I am surprised by the result or it keeps evolving. I use the process of creating collages as a way to reflect on the aspects of the project that I´m trying to represent. I don´t own the identity of the project so I find it very natural that the collage reminds me of the references that I have used to create it. However, it is an open process and it keeps evolving and mixing. Sometimes it gets more complex whilst at other time it simplifies after a thorough editing process.

How important is the sketch as a means to express and develop ideas?

I use sketching to define ideas in a more detailed way than collage does. Usually I mix both techniques. I don´t just sketch at the beginning of a project, sometimes I don´t start drawing until a more defined stage. I use models, collage and references as a starting point and when the main aspects of the project are clear then I draw them. If a project is more program oriented y use diagrams or any visualizing data resources that I can think of.

How could the notion of the intervention as something which lies within a journey be explore rather through images and/or format?

(Images can be experienced in more dimensions than 2d. As well as we feel and perceive emotions through non figurative art pieces, we can explore spaces through non formal architectural representations. We don´t need to outline a space to define it´s boundaries. There are spatial boundaries that we choose to draw and others that we use to design. Architectural representation must have scale but it can be abstract.)


Alba Rodríguez Illanes, graduated as an Architect from the Polytechnic University of Madrid (MArch) where her Final Thesis “Social and Urban Rehabilitation in LA” received a Special Mention from the Jury. She also studied at Vastu-Shilpa Foundation in partnership with CEPT University in Ahmedabad with Architect Balkrishna Doshi, and interned in Madrid in various university departments before working in urban research projects and competitions as a collaborator for Paisaje Transversal and for OSS-Office For Strategic Spaces (nominated to the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe). After this experience, she moved to New Delhi with an Argo Global Grant where she was a Consulting Architect for two years for Itwillbe NGO (formerly Naya Nagar). In 2014 she moved back to Madrid and started working in AECOM as a Project Architect and Urban Designer also starting a CSR Group (Corporate Social Responsibility) focused on sustainability and poverty and disaster alleviation projects. She has recently finished a 6 month stay in Moscow working on the development of a large scale complex while researching the convoluted history of the city. Alba combines her professional work with personal projects of various kinds, always interested in the nature of cities and their inner conflicts and focused on the intersection of landscape and architecture.