Professors: Manuel Lillo Navarro and Francisco Juan Martínez Pérez
Escuela ténica superior de arquitectura – Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (ETSA-UPV)
Within the deposits of an abandoned winery industrial complex, we decide to reborn as a new society.
We fulfil the metal deposits hidden inside the ruin, with as many uses as we can imagine. An artist’s workshop, a rehearsal room, a library, a co-working space: Every single piece of the creative society is welcome!
We open the ruin, so that the sun and the vegetation can strike back. Let the landscape phenomena enter into the heart of the building.
As this kind of post-industrial places exist on every outskirt of almost every city, a manifesto is written. The beauty of defeat is a manifesto for post-industrial ruins and it aims to reach society’s heart.
As it is said on the manifesto:
THEY CALL US THE TECHNOLOGY GENERATION, BUT WE WILL BE THE TRASH GENERATION. The industrial era started a disastrous path towards a swamp of leftovers, as a result of violent and excessive consumerism. This path does not even lead us towards the abyss. We wish it did. It is a path to nowhere. We will remain here. We will be right where we are now, while we witness how the forces of nature, disrupted from their perfect natural cycle, overwhelm us. We are the exception to an otherwise harmonious loop that does not know how to achieve closure.
THEY CALL US THE TECHNOLOGY GENERATION, BUT WE WILL BE THE TRASH GENERATION. The industrial era has left many witnesses in its way. Structures and artefacts of an eerie beauty which, once abandoned, embody a peculiar attitude. This attracts us as if we were insects flying to the light of their past. Few people know the beauty hidden behind such defeats, and even fewer have witnessed it.
It is within this beauty where we have to find shelter and it is within the still-beating heart of the failed remains of the past that we must be reborn.
What prompted the project?
The desire of living in a new environment full of hope. The desire to understand architecture as our new environment where nature fills the abandoned post-industrial spaces and turns them into our places. A new environment reborn from a failed era and that fulfills the imaginary of the new society that has to arise. All this prompted the project.
What questions does the project raise and which does it address?
The decisions taken in the project try to be as close as they can to the ones that a wild and disappointed nature would take. So, the question is, how would nature behave if she had to take back this peculiar old wine deposit?
What would she do? What would she keep? What would she destroy? From where would she enter into what was built? Or even how would she let light enter?
When an attitude like this is adopted, the priorities in the project change completely. This is why the project was so much fun.
Having said all this, the project wants to respond to the need of a society to re-use the ruins and the abandoned industrial artefacts instead of building unnecessary architecture that doesn’t pay attention to the uncertain path we might be going.
As I say in “The Beauty of Defeat. A manifesto for post-industrial ruins”, written for the project, “make architecture as if you were nature”.
How does the project define and approach the ruin?
Firstly, it approaches the ruin as if nature wants to take back the space and the resources used by the building that were stolen from her. As if vegetation wants to cure what this building polluted, as part of an excessive industrial production consequences.
For that reason, the third landscape grows from the exterior open spaces and breaks into the heart of the building.
Then, we inhabit the ruin looking towards what it can become and as the places of tomorrow. One tomorrow where we cannot deny the big amount of wasted resources we have, just like these forgotten structures.
From the scale of the masterplan to that of the building what informed the distribution of programmes?
The area where the project is located has suffered several changes that ended up erasing his original essence. The landscape has been for centuries the one where the prosperous agricultural countryside from Valencia (Spain) meets the Mediterranean dune system. However, back in the 70’s it was transformed into an industrial site. During this period, is when the main building of the intervention was built. Most recently, some summer housing blocks appeared all over, eliminating the natural link with the seaside.
As a result, we have some industrial ruins surrounded by huge blocks dividing two precious landscapes.
So, every decision taken wants to settle life into the soul-less ¨neighbourhood¨, provide services to the community so that it can be understood as a place where you can live not only in summer. It also seeks to reunite the separated landscapes and arise with a new identity thanks to the magnificent main building that will now become a shelter for the culture. The culture of a new generation that will have to deal with one of the most fragile moments in human history.
How do these relate to and activate the ruin into an inhabitable space?
The old winery building is then taken by society to grow from within as a place to host new ideas to work on. A place to host culture and live events such as concerts and expositions.
The metal deposits sheltered in there, that one day contained wine, now turn into rooms where painters, musicians, shops, or as many uses as people can imagine, take place. These huge deposits with 3.5m diameter, are converted into these rooms thanks to the openings that are made, the flat floor installed and, of course, thanks to the technical installations needed such as electricity and air conditioning.
This way, we have a kind of inner city made up from cylindrical cells, before full of wine, and, now, fulfilled with life, creativity and hope.
The rest of the space is liberated or taken by nature, obtaining a living inner landscape inside the building.
What is the new established relationship between human, ruin and city?
The new relationship that the project aims to achieve is to take these 3 elements and, with the help of nature, turn them into our environment.
We are living such a unique moment in this planet. Humans will not see such a delicate a situation with our ecosystem happen twice, at least I hope we will not repeat the mistakes. So we have to decide as the heterogeneous species we are, which one will be our environment. And it has to work well for all of us, including the flora and fauna.
Humans, ruin, cities and nature can be understood as an environment. As a new environment. As our environment. From where start again in a more harmonious way.
Where and how do you see this developing throuh time ?
I see this relationship developing not only in the different post-industrial areas around the damaged planet such as “La Fábrica” from Ricardo Bofill, the Landschaftpark Duisburg-Nord from Peter Latz or the Saline Joniche project from Grupo Aranea.
I see it also developing in people’s imaginary. In movies, in music, in paintings or in books. I dream that someday we will live environments full of magic. Architecture can make us realise how wonderful and powerful can be the bond with our surroundings.
What is for you the architect's most important tool?
With any doubt, the society’s imaginary.
Someone that dreams of a better environment, someone that imagines how deep and magical the relationship between nature and our heterogeneous species can be, will be able to deal with any challenge and will inspire the people that surround him. This way, we are able to create a network of inspiration that leads us to the places of tomorrow.
So dream and make architecture as if you were nature. Or as if you had not forgotten that you are nature.