2009-2010. URBAN BUDDY SCHEME / 06 feb 2009 / Grupo Casita + Uriel Fogué (transcription)

Extracts from the MADRID_ABIERTO Urban Buddy Scheme sessions

Luis Úrculo (moderator)
Studio Kawamura-Ganjavian
Uriel Fogué
Cecilia Andersson
Kyong Park (moderator)
Alexander Gerdel
Apolonija Šušteršič + Meike Schalk
Teddy Cruz
Kyong Park (questions)
Discussion with the audience



We are Loreto Alonso, Eduardo Galván and Diego del Pozo Barriouso, we work independently and also as a group. CASITA is an acronym that changes (its meaning) depending on the projects we’re working on. I am interested in emphasizing the original nature of our activities… collective and collaborative… we like collaborating with each other but also with other networks and disciplines, and dealing with other non cultural characteristics.

Loreto_ We started in 2003, considering ourselves an ambiguous group, its members could change. We started out with a simple project, some mailboxes used in urban interventions, and ended up calculating the IPF (Indication of a Project’s Feasibility)… from then on we focused on expanding the field in which art is framed, and generate an interaction device.
In this case, the IPF, was intended to measure what different perspectives we had on our ideas, thinking together…
After that we did a larger project “As long as you live in my house”, then, the group was called ‘Open.House.Interdisciplinary.Situations.Artistic.Works’.
It discussed a subject, a realm: that of family.
We found a house with the help of Universidad Complutense and El Escorial’s City Hall, carrying out activities with organizations from the area…
We discussed power relations that are created in families, immigration, families of older people…

In 2006, and with this method, which dwells between exhibition and redaction, we approached the subject matter.
The project was called “How to earn a living, the transparent entity”. At this point the group was called
It was an autonomous installation… there were screens, in the main one, people with different backgrounds commented on their situations. We weren’t interested in filming a documentary, we wanted to know what they thought about work and compare it with what we thought about work.
We also used drawings to keep discussing our subject.

…we project the film’s ‘trailer’, people say:
“…they have all our time!”
“…it’s my hobby, I enjoy my job!”
“…we all have a right to be lazy at times!”
“… (personal fulfilment) this is the great sham from which multinational companies spring!”

__In a booth there was a sound piece with people’s opinions, different generations, of a family…their roles at work, there social position due to their job activity…etc. This in the realm of work, the other one was more public.

__There was also, a meeting space, where we had some meetings to develop ‘interactive time’. Three public meetings; The first was done to discuss the project’s questions. The second was done with former and current workers of Matadero; two generations of workers talked: those who had grown in ‘material’ working conditions and those who worked in ‘post-ford’ production conditions.
The third was with children. A theatrical dynamic with the use of a mediatec, two characters, Time and Money… helped children learn about the history of work during the twentieth century.

__It was important to have people participate in our project. Thus we built a mediatec, with discourses on work, norms, news (in 99 the first anti-globalization demonstration in Seattle, in 2006 the integration of China in the World Commerce Organization…), books which contained classic narratives on production…and we created a Decalogue. It can be looked up in the web.
These ten items, this practical/theoretical/visual construction, was the starting point of our current project: ‘The Black Box’.
This artefact is based on an airplanes’ device, which accumulates information to be consulted in case of necessity. Our subject is the modes of production. Its nature is distributive…we started with it in Austria and Slovenia. It contains information on work and ‘backgrounds’ that we collect.
An important idea is the ‘proposal-wise’ aspect, we ask the public to answer our question: “what do you think…what type of action could change the sense of our productivity?”
What we suggested was for people to answer and intervene in the ‘black box’ with words and images. In Austria, when we started with this project, we met groups and artists such as Oliver Ressler, Martin Creed; Intellectuals like Isabel Puschmann, Christan Fleck or social activist groups like Chalass d’Grass…and suggested them to distribute it in their environments. The box can also be used in public areas and everyday situations.
It should be given also in the street, to widen commonplace debate, out of strict cultural and artistic parameters, to break the taboo regarding work and the current recession. Financial discourses seem to annul hopes when we most need them…we want to create a collection of ideas, not too utopian…of any kind and we want you to participate by giving an opinion.



…basically I want to discuss three ideas: one is, INVASION, another is, THE GAMBLE, and the last one, CELEBRATION… I will explain them as well as our work in the studio with architects Carlos Palacios and Eva Gil.

1_we are being invaded by infrastructures. In the picture, a typical modern city, in which the floor is transparent…and through a layer of infrastructure (an unseen, invisible technological space) social space can be seen, above, to which the layers of infrastructure are veiled…we can see a clear frontier, between the two worlds. The social area (relationships), and that of experts (technological).
There we have a frontier.

2_these other images have to do with a very special infrastructure, photovoltaic solar panels. A type of technology we are testing in the studio for different projects.
This image shows a small village that uses photovoltaic energy. The picture has been redesigned to show the different layers; nature, the urban layer, and infrastructures. We’re investigating the process and find that these two borders are being undone. These projects are in process, an invasion is taking place. Frontiers make no sense any more. There is a new invasion by some new technological citizens…we, as architects, are designing a cohabitation of such citizens and urban spaces.

I’m going to put an example that we have recently created for Madrid’s City Hall (a proposal to intervene in the city’s public space). This the square of General Vara del Rey, in El Rastro…it belongs to different urban spaces, of different scales and époques, connected, articulated, well connected, from any spot in Madrid you can get there relatively fast…
The square is clearly affected by El Rastro’s activity…an outdoor market which provokes these type of situations…here we can see it (pictures are shown) on a normal day, as usual, and here, on Sunday morning, the square has been invaded by stands, people, by a market that strongly determines and activates the area, with a rich social variety, in a square with different levels, with buildings belonging to different centuries…
Lets see how we managed such an invasion…first we suggested a practical case of how to introduce this photovoltaic infrastructure, a clear example of an infrastructure that needs to be visible. It’s not closed-underground as others; it is not thrown into the background by society. We made an energy survey to find out how much energy could be used in this synthesis between the public realm and technology, under the current norms.

We created a geometrical module that harmonized the way it was installed in the public space and the way it worked, regarding the sun, its movement through the seasons.
The foundation of the project is this elevated fabric of ‘infrastructure’, a mix of solar panels (photovoltaic) and ecological supports (vegetation). This hybrid landscape, which this combination of ecological panels and photovoltaic supports, produces; some short term solutions in the pavement, with these little ‘mountains’ (water deposits for the rain) of recycled water for irrigation use; a number of big scale trees, of deciduous leafs, drains of CO2; a net of vegetation of small evergreen trees, not to veil the solar panels,…
This type of landscape is what we envision to manage this invasion. The geometry that interrelates the sun’s movement and the administration of optimized solar energy with a range of efficiency of 90/95% (the panels aren’t expensive, we used standard commercial ones).

Depending on how you look at it, we have different landscapes. Looking at it from the south the whole landscape is photovoltaic, from the north you can see the inferior parts of the panels, looking from an angle you see a mixed landscape…
…in a section, the conical water deposits are covered (water gets dirty when exposed). This elevation, this ‘unevenness’ produces topographical figures…
…the panels’ supports are particularized depending on the weight… they are customized producing different uses for urban furniture; seats, swings, gymnastic artefacts…even a roundabout supplied with photovoltaic energy. Here we present (the projection continues) scale tests, fast drawings to test how the project would work once installed in the square…
ENERGETIC STRATEGIES__ The project works on two types of ‘panels’. Opaque, solar ones and the ecological elements that support small ‘pots’ with vegetation, letting the sun pass through in winter and not so in summer, when they create shade.

VEGETATION STRATEGIES__ A uniform net of evergreen trees and the CO2 drain with deciduous trees enlarge the green area, adding the green panels.

PAVEMENT__ Avoiding ornamentation, we studied the received solar radiation, visually interpreting each dot/pixel per floor tile, creating a composition on the pavement…materials were chosen depending on their power to absorb…obtaining a map according to our research…an interpretation of colour and texture, another energetic pact in the pavement.

THE WATER__ According to the radiation map, and knowing which areas were warmer, we installed water micronization and evaporation areas, sources emerging from the ground…refreshing Madrid’s dry weather with vapour. The structure also deals with El Rastro’s commercial geometry.

The Gamble
COMMUNICATION__ If these new citizens enter the cities, we have to communicate with them. We have to connect with a previous concept: the gamble.
A previous project of ours; “Energetic sports lottery”…we wanted to question the role of ecology in society.
This project was tested in the Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá and started off with this idea: why ecology seemed a negative and pessimistic instruction? Always saying what to do…don’t waste water! Recycle paper! Don’t consume too much!, with citizens always on the passive side.

We tried to question ourselves: why aren’t we capable, as technicians, to offer desirable strategies from an ecological standpoint?
And we set out to rehearse “energetic sports lottery”…using monitored solar panels we could gamble on what was captured every day…developing a long term calculation, although it is subject to contingencies such as clouds, birds, dirt…

A panel in Madrid, in our studio, sent the information through Internet to a classroom in Bogotá, where it was projected like if it were the stock market, with questions such as: “how much will this panel capture tomorrow at twelve in the morning, in Madrid, and with these technical characteristics”.
The students didn’t guess any of the questions on the first days. From the fourth day on, due to the money (they had collected 20 €, quite some money in Colombia and there were some 80 students)…because of the money there was a strong involvement and everyone acquired the scale in an indirect manner.
Everyone knows how much electricity bills cost, but not how much energy a solar panel produces. Therefore, we found ways of involving people with strategies, even of this type (which could even corrupt!, says the speaker, ironically)…although it would be good to be corrupted by ecology.

Speaking of the project: How does the square communicate? We have an indicator of daily collected information. If the geometry I have explained before installs the solar panels in a way that once they are superimposed I only see a green landscape or technological one, depending on my point of view, the same thing happens when looking from beneath.
Therefore, the inferior parts of the panels have some indicators that shine at night or project with certain intensity according to the light they have captured during the day. Thus, in some privileged spots of the square, ‘reading points’, citizens, with a book, can participate in this strategy. This is important to us; as you can see in the sketches of the project, there are spots where you can’t see. We try to codify the energy in spatial sensations or possibilities of spatial relations.
In any case, the important thing is for this strategy to become an offer, not an instruction…to have the opportunity to participate if one wants to.

AMORTIZATION_ The infrastructure changes its colour as the investment is being repaid. The square pays itself in the long term. In eleven years it will be repaid for. It changes its colour so the citizen knows the time left to recover the investment.

WATER GAUGE_ How much water has been obtained? There is a territorial water gauge. Flood zones, the territory of Madrid has as many of these as water reservoirs, they are flooded depending on the level of water in the reservoirs. Water is not a local but territorial subject. It’s machinery that works for you when you open the tap.

RECYCLING panels, each time you ‘score’ glass to be recycled, the panel indicates what is going to be done with it.
Make a website for the square, or a facebook to the citizen that explains his profile…

ECONOMIC SURVEY_ I don’t have time, they are telling me to finish…

From our point of view, this ‘invasion’ has to be managed from the standpoint of architecture and urbanism, as well as from other realms. And this agreement, these emigration laws aren’t documents to be written apart. We are studying Spain’s controversial 2001 “immigration laws”, and translating them to the technological immigration laws. The truth to us is, these are the Immigration Laws, a clause in our contract…the materialization of this square, once it’s built, is the “agreement that puts technological citizens in relation to one another”.

I end with THE CELEBRATION_ An invitation to everyone in the UHF group…with this publication. With different formats, this is the nº 1…this is jamón, this is fish honey, these are some maps with counters…the ‘arch-bingo’ to enjoy when attending architect conferences, this edition is a soap bar with a magazine inside, you will wash yourselves until you use it up and then you might read it… And this, and last, that we will present on the 14th of February, is called ERRA, Errors, Risks, Noises, Accidents…a lot of fun to present it on Saint Valentines day…

Thank you very much.