Telling Stories_Socio-Cultural Center San Cristobal Hill
Álvaro Allona López
Three years ago I was heading off to one of the most exciting experiencies I could ever imagine, my student exchange program at Santiago in Chile. During my stay there, the city had a great impact on me. Chile is one of Latin America’s most developed countries in sociocultural terms; however, there’s still a lot of social inequality. This feeling of empathy towards the most deprived persons in the city made me start a new project with the aim of solving this breach, that later on, today, I can say its finally finished.
The chosen site is a key factor to solve this problem because of its location between a neighborhood with more purchasing power and another ones with the least. Anyone can visit the Center, and there is where such differences will begin to disappear.
Therefore, the innovation of the project lies in a greater maturity aimed at environmental and social problems. At the same time, it carries implicit meanings of great value such as symbolic appropriation of the public space and a sense of belonging for the users, an uncommon habit between the citizens of the big capital’.
Who influences you graphically?
My inspiration and way of drawing are determined by the type of project nonetheless, they all have something in common, they all have stories to tell. These stories could be completely or half told, in a way that the viewer could be the one in charge of finishing it with its imagination.
One could say that everything is part of a variety, from Piranesi, Julie Mehretu, Alighiero Boetti and Max Ernst in Arts; Georges Méliès, Daniil Cherkes and James Marsh in Cinema; Berenice Abbott, Lucien Hervé, Ezra Stoller, Julius Shulman and Miguel de Guzmán in Photography; Georges Perec and Italo Calvino in Literature; Fala Atelier, NP2F, KGDVS, OMMX, Dogma and Mansilla+Tuñón in Architecture.
How would an exterior perspective influence the perception of the proposal?
I strongly believe that the exterior perspective of a project tells something about what is going on in the interior, they both have to dialogue and reflect one another.
Generally, I start from three premises based on consumption of public space that offer the user a total experience of what is happening there, these are:
– Passive form; as a contemplative garden.
– Physically consuming; taking public space as a stage for many activities.
– Fully active form; it is the same project itself that invites to visit, just for the pleasure of using it.
What is the effect and purpose of featuring people within the images? How would the effect contrast if they were silhouettes?
Personally, I like working with the feelings that cause us places or things for the first time, that “first image” generated by our brain is what will live long in the memory.
For this reason, the effect and purpose of placing real people doing different activities within the images give us more information on what is happening there at that moment. At the same time, the facial expressions of the characters are very important; can convey happiness, sadness, tiredness, relaxation.
Instead, all these little nuances would be impossible to reflect a simple silhouette where we can not reach easily distinguish facial expressions or body gestures.
What is your work process in terms of programs used?
I always start with a series of drawings, sketches and small notes of what I want to tell and how to do it. I like to follow an order, either from the outside into the project or vice versa; in this way, it allows the viewer to read the same when interpreting it.
The tools and programs used in performing the images include, above all, hand drawing and drawing in AutoCAD; then, modeled in SketchUp for the volume, camera placement and export of wireframe images. Finally, textures and people in Photoshop where everything “comes alive” in order to convey those feelings of which I spoke earlier.
What is your take on the hyper realistic utopian render?
From my point of view, what happens to the hyper-realistic render resembles to when I see photographs of finished projects in architectural magazines or design, they are so static and rigid images that its hard to change something within them as they are “windows” of the reality.
Instead, what I seek is this malleability and entertainment facilities that makes us partakers of what happens in the image so in a way can bring us value judgments in a more liberal way and without so many prejudices of what is real or not.
Alvaro Allona (1990) obtained the title of Technical Architecture at the University of Navarra (UNAV) in 2012. At the same time he was finishing his thesis, he moved to Madrid to continue his studies in Architecture and obtained his Diploma at the Universidad Camilo José Cela (UCJC) in 2015. In late 2012 he studied for one year at Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile. During his staying there, he won the first prize in the School Competition. Also, his project ‘Mediateca Cerro San Cristobal’, developed during the first half of the year, was published in the yearbook of the Faculty of Architecture as the best third-year project.
Since 2015, he is a partner in the architectural magazine ‘Designing The Future’ where his final project in architecture was published in the magazine #11. In 2016 he founded together with Javier Casado Alvaro and Ana María Torralba Torremocha the architectural studio ‘Triptico’ (Madrid), earning Honorable Mention at the Festival of Architecture and Design in Logroño ‘Concentrico 02’ for the realization of the Main Pavilion Festival. He has collaborated on several occasions with Juan Benavides (Mexico), their work has been exhibited at the ‘F’ar – Forum d’Architectures’ in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is currently collaborating on the architectural studio of Antonio Juarez Chicote, professor in the Department of Architectural Design at the Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid (ETSAM).