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SCAFFOLDING, LATENT IMPERMANENCES

In the last fifty years in Europe, there have been no more wars(although, as some would point out,we are constantly at war). This means that European cities are,on the whole, consolidated, but their buildings are old and rundown, they cleaning, strengthening and adapting to present-day needs. Like faces, their facades need beautifying and sometimes a facelift is in order. This means that scaffolding is a common sight in the city today.

But scaffolding can provide architects with a new field of action. Its constantly changing image makes it a pretext for experimental action. Back in my text"Renovating", published in Quaderns201 (1993), I spoke about permanent scaffolding conceived as "new wrappings which offer the possibility of turning existing facades into large screens which, like advertising hoardings, display the images you desire". In architecture there is a tendency to dematerialisation, whether we are dealing with works which are designed to be permanent or impermanent.On the one hand, glass or mirror architecture disappears, leaving in its place the reflected image of its surroundings, the sky. Something similar happens in the case of scaffolding, but the other way round : buildings covered with tarpaulin or wire meshing create what André Breton called érotique-voilée, in such a way that the building are undone. Permanent architecture purposes to achieve an unfinished, transformable image, which is even dismantled, becoming liquid, ans its impermanent counterpart covers and dissipates. But this is precisely what makes the question so interesting, aswe can glimpse its earlier layers, depending on how and where it is covered.

It is as though we wore a veil which hid our face, while letting others guess at its forms. Scaffolding is erotic because it conceals what is there, while giving wing to our imagination. Architecture is rendered abstract, immaterial by scaffolding, it becomes a great wrapped gift, it loses dimension (remember Christo's provocative actions, wrapping great objects and buildings).

Apart from being built out of necessity, because cities age, scaffolding is also in keeping with the present time for its flexibility and its transformation and dematerialisation of architecture and, perhaps, for its desire to move into areas of use.

Yet the scaffolding used in the city, covered with green synthetic cloth, tends to be a stereotype. While it does have to fulfil a function as a working structure, provisionally covering a facade until it is completed, why shouldn't scaffolding have more than one use at a time? For example, in the morning it could be a great advertising hoarding, becoming a work of art in the afternoon and a huge lamp at night( scafolding is not two-dimensional; it is 80 centimetres deep). It could also be used as a place for temporary exhibition, acting as a possible guideline for future cultural policy, with a view to providing the city with new containers for information and expression of the cultural scene of the moment.

Concepts such as flexibility, simultaneity of uses and briefs, recycling of existing space and structures, or the juxtaposition of a cultural brief alongside another type of existing brief ( business, commercial, administrative, etc.) could help to make these new places far more interdisciplinary.

If the contents of contemporary cultural spaces are a reflection of life down on the street, then why not use a temporary structure such as scaffolding as a support for action, creating new social and cultural relatioships in its simultaneity of uses and meanings, questioning the traditional form of art containers?


 

 

 

URBAN LABS/SCAFFOLDINGS AND PARTY WALLS

mitre-padua party wall > the performance anticipates to arrange the party wall by its water-protection and covering with the stucco material(of the sponsor company) in several colors and textures. Also, the painting of the inner lateral facade, as well as the facade with balcony-gallery, that had been conceived like inner block facade, but with the General Mitre's opening it remains almost in situation as a facade. The process is completed with the inclusion of elements in form of leaves, following the party wall's patterns, of fiber-cement (fire protection material and resistant to the weather and pollution) on metallic supports. These elements are placed basically on the railings of the gallery and serve to hide the sinks and other elements not so much adaptable to a street-facade, also giving unity of criteria to the performance of the different facades.

 

 

Party Walls >> A party wall is one which separates one building from another. Party walls are not designed to be seen, but changes in legislation, or demolition
or a difference in heights in consolidated centers make them a permanent, everyday event in our cities. They reflect the direction of the cut or section
between two buildings rather than being intended or treated as facades.When a party wall becomes a facade, we try to disguise it by painting it or covering
it with another material, which simulates something it isn't. This makes it part of the ephimeral, temporary construction's group, because although it is
going to be left on view, the treatment it receives is temporary.

In this party wall it was proposed to make an action that had to be the inaugural act of the spring of design 1999.
Unfortunately it will not be possible to be carried out, but we hope that it could be produced not so far in the future.
The idea is to cover the party wall's surface with three special fabric white
strips for scaffolding, in which textures, design, colors, plots..., that were made by Yago Conde are projected.
The action consists of three people
'rappeling' who, with different movements are rolling up , folding, and gathering fabrics one after the other, undressing the party wall.
The amplified sound of fabrics in movement dramatizes the action.
Once on the ground, the fabrics are unfolded and are rolled up in different directions over the pavement of the Passeig del Born..


Some of the most interesting student works of the master 'Arquitectura, Art i Espai Efimer', lectured in two alternate years. Once , scaffolding was proposed as a experimentation place, and then a party wall was taken as a starting point. The scaffolding was choosen by each student.
images from the exhibition 'party walls : urban landscapes lab' at Pati Llimona 1999
spanish version
06_arabescreen
To date, party walls have above all been used as advertising hoardings. But they could also provide the ideal support for any kind of cultural intervention,
beyond their purely constructional, architectural role, producing endless actions and collaborations with graphic artists and professionals. They could be
the crossover point for art, imagination and everydaylife.

In the specific case of Barcelona's Ciutat Vella, houses have been demolished yo create small squares but their walls remain, bearing the traces of former
homes, as part of the lives which used to be lived there. It would be interesting to turn these party walls into a testing laboratory for different
new materials : cloth, rubber, pieces of sawn-off metal... Surfaces to indistinctly simulate the prolongation of the ground, the pavement and even
-why not? - create a garden on the actual party wall and teat it as a "soft facade".

So we can experiment with new materials or new ways of using the ones we know, thereby the city's existing palette of colours. We could see party walls
as open spaces for experimentation, which would involve construction companies and material manufacturers. But not just companies devoted to the
construction world, because if we think of recycling as a means of action, the range of possibilities expands. Interventions on party walls not only
represent an aesthetic intention; they can urge us on to try out new experiences in our society, produce another, more intriguing, more imaginative
backdrop, and see the effects they have on passers-by.