RETROFITTING FORECLOSURE: THE TRIAL OF EMPTY CASTLES
STRATEGIES FOR THE ABORTED CONSTRUCTIONS OF MADRID’S PERIPHERY
Instructors: Belén Moneo & Eduardo Rega
Advanced Studio Spring 2013
On February 15, 2012, two exhibitions debuted simultaneously at Reina Sofia, Madrid “Castles in the Sky” by Hans Haake and at MoMA, New York “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream”. The foreclosure crisis that plagued both countries prompted my research into how architects can use the governing rules of a failed system, to subvert the same system in order to generate new urban realities.
The intervention operates in two spatial frames: the relational space that negotiates between planning, policy and political phenomena, and the physical space in which we construct regenerative mechanisms in architecture to match the increasing demands of a rapidly changing urban situation. Conflict of interests that occur in relational space, between the law (top-down system) and occupy groups (bottom-up system), are manifested in physical space, from occupy movements in the square of Puerta del Sol to the abandoned housing developments of Ensanche de Vallecas in Madrid.
By referencing the analysis framework of Bruno Latour’s ‘actor-network theory’, actors in the city of Madrid were mapped in relational space to show the complex relationship between the forces of collectives, individuals and networks unseen in physical spaces. The reverberation of the housing crisis does not cease at the boundaries of the land, but extends into the spatiotemporal rhythms of a city. It generates conflict by bringing together the flows of actors in the urban environment. These ‘Conflict Maps’ become experiments in curating dynamic frameworks for future development and provide the points of entry for interventions in policy to take place.
The proposal is to admit the existing unfinished developments in Ensanche de Vallecas into Spanish Cultural Heritage as cultural monuments, and to release the structures from the monotony of land use caused by the General Plan of 1997. This inventive negotiation emerges from testing the actors in “Conditions for Architecture” against the urban situation of the chosen site, in which an architectural intervention is demanded with situational constraints. The rules governing the land are redefined, and in turn, they reinvent architectural typology to address the social and cultural necessities.
The architecture physically provides facilities and spaces for users to interact with the existing structure without being structurally dependent and serves as an infrastructural plug-in for unfinished structures. However, more importantly, the architectural intervention becomes an operation: a part of a narrative in which boundaries need to be crossed, conventions broken and systems recontextualized to meet the needs of constantly changing forces.
And then, we progress.