“Change is a natural process”, emphasises architect Carmelo Rodríguez - co-founder of the recently created Spanish collective ENORME - as he recalls the foundation of the group together with fellow initiators of the former PKMN Architectures studio. A natural continuation of PKMN Architectures, Enorme’s approach is based on teamwork and performance, and intends to promote participation as a pedagogical tool against the homogenisation of public spaces. Curious to learn more about the team’s actions and togetherness vision, we asked Carmelo to answer some questions.
How do you work as a collective?
We have collaborated with other cultural, citizen or design agents on several projects. Every time we try to create a group that includes each subject, as this is our idea of a collective practice. In fact, our way of imagining the term "collective" is all about teamworking with others, rather than focusing on our own structure. Meaning that - for each project - the whole team has to create common tools, language and strategies that fit within a real context.
Some of your best tools “to motivate the creation of a proactive citizen culture” against the “homogenisation of public space” are culture, participation and performance. How do you combine and challenge these three elements?
Public spaces are our more precious common good. They are rough diamonds with an extraordinary potential. The increasing homogenisation of “the public” is reduced to a question of applying regulations and quantity standards - such as “we need ten benches, six trees, three playgrounds, etc.” And many designers rely solely on design to fulfil those standards. Whereas at Enorme we believe that the combination of participatory design together with the generation of a new urban culture constitutes the real starting point of such public projects. In this sense ephemeral experimentations - in which performance plays a significant role - help us to amplify the public imagination regarding how to redefine public spaces in our cities.
What/Who inspired you to promote this participatory-driven approach?
There are many sources and so many interesting people we admire that it is impossible to make a list! We love strategies developed by people as Basurama or Raumlabor, but also that generation of architects that - back in the sixties - broke up with the starchitect figure derived from the Modern Movement - people such as Haus-Rucker-Co, Lapo Binazzi, Gianni Pettena.
What does participation mean to you?
We are very interested in experimentation related to co-creation strategies. We believe in participation as a pedagogical tool and as a way to generate urban culture that can transcend the “like - don’t like” dynamics. In this respect the main challenge is to apply educational methodologies and the promotion of an environment of trust - generally related to small groups - to big scale projects, in which multiple actors are involved.
How do you see your role as architects in society?
We’ve always believed in the role of architects as mediators, as enablers of urban processes. In that regard it is very important to experiment with strategies and tools that can extend urban designs. The challenge is to get outstanding designs derived from more open methodologies.
From urban squares and playgrounds to picnic tables, you clearly have a fascination for common areas that already carry a strong convivial symbolism. Could you explain this fascination?
As most collective actions are regulated by actor-spectator dynamics - derived from traditional spectacles - we are very interested in all kinds of public spaces that have a practical and symbolic capacity to host such collective performances. The experimental approach that we pursue is driven by an interest on how to empower citizens to be the protagonists of urban spaces and fell part of their community.
Cover_Hypertube, PKMN Architectures + Taller de Casquería, Madrid, Spain, 2014 © enorme, photo by Javier de Paz; Performing Architecture, Gran Vía, Madrid, 2009; 1_Build me, Enorme + TXP TODO X LA PRAXIS + TEAMLABS, Madrid, Spain, 2016 © enorme, photo by Javier De Paz; 2_Picniquetopie, Enorme, Rennes, France, 2016 © enorme, photo by Lea Waytens / Sarah Berthet-Nivon; 3_Jeanne d'Arc on wheels, Enorme Studio, Rennes, France, 2016, Courtesy of Enorme; 4_Transformer-Bench, Campo de Cebada, Madrid, Spain, 2012; 5_Comete tu ciudad, Enorme + Maestría CIUDAD Centro + ARQUINE, Mexico, 2016, photo courtesy of Enorme;
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