The Beauty of Simplicity
Pablo Sanchez Lopez
Football for Everyone – Towards a more inclusive experience of sports events
‘Football for Everyone’ is an urban strategy that challenges the way we collectively attend sporting events by proposing a much more accessible experience. Originally being public spaces and monuments of the city and its society, stadiums today are inaccessible to a large portion of the population.
Since the 1950’s, the transformation of sports into businesses has been manifested urbanistically in various forms. The rise of the private vehicle pushed stadiums away from the city centre into the suburbs where the land is cheaper to build. Furthermore, television broadcasting of sports provided greater economic revenue despite extortionate ticket prices, and has turned sporting events into a commodity that can be consumed from the privacy of one’s home.
The proposal addresses these issues with one simple gesture: the stadium is buried into the ground bringing its roof to street level, which becomes a large public square free to be used by citizens. Through its glass floor, passers-by can observe and simultaneously be observed, becoming performers in the spectacle. The stadium, as a social condenser integrated in the urban fabric, transforms a football match from an exclusive event into another facet of the everyday city life for anyone and everyone to experience.
Villages – Reforming Settlements in Rural Spain
Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, almost one million people aged 16 to 30 have left Spain in search of employment abroad. The efforts of the government to solve this crisis have been disastrous, adopting measures of austerity that have only worsened living and working conditions for this generation of professionals. To counter this, the project proposes to relocate these people to a rural territory 90km to the southwest of Madrid. This land, in its own crisis, is agricultural, isolated, demographically and economically depressed, and yet has the potential to rethink the future of these people.
The objective of the project is twofold. On the one hand, it is guided by the urgency to provide adequate living conditions for these people away from the pressures of the city. At the same time, it aspires to reconstruct the villages in the countryside that are economically and demographically in decay. For this to occur, the villages will first need to be reconnected through new and reinforced infrastructure to the larger network, allowing for commerce and transport to develop. An agricultural reform will follow, attempting to challenge the current status quo, where large corporations exploit the land as well as the farmers that work on them. A large field will be transformed to irrigation and divided into small plots with which settlers can become agriculturally self-sufficient.
The strategy for the design of the settlements responds to a scenario in which a vast amount of people may arrive to this territory, with the risk of villages eventually sprawling into the countryside. To avoid this, settlements take the form of linear buildings that frame the existing villages, supported by a policy in which future urban growth will only be allowed to take place towards the interior of the settlement. Each settlement is bespoke to the orientation of the village fabric as well as the size of the existing village. The roads radiating from the village will divide the settlement into self-sufficient sectors and serve to structure its construction into phases.
To minimise costs, the state builds only the minimum infrastructure necessary for habitation: structure, a roof, and a central core to which services can be attached, allowing the rest of the interior space to be appropriated according to personal will. The building material is rammed earth, which, found on the same site, requires almost no construction skills and can employ the same people who will eventually live there. The settlement building is in essence an extruded pitched roof, giving it a collective character that binds the people together as opposed to the traditional apartments of the city and the isolated family houses of the suburbs.
Interview for Villages- Reforming Settlements in Rural Spain
Who influences you graphically?
The graphic style of this project was not influenced by anyone in particular although I gave the composition of the images great consideration. In this regard I observed the techniques of painters like Piero della Francesca and Dirck van Delen, and of photographers like Lewis Balz.
How did the format of Pier Vittorio influence the type of images created?
The images were influenced by Pier Vittorio’s ambition to simplify how the project is communicated. In my images, I wanted to express the strong territorial effects of my intervention but at the same time the delicate characteristics of its architecture. For this purpose, only two views of the project are used.The first view is used in a series of three images that present the building as a territorial limit between different parts of its context, emphasizing its horizontality and constant presence. In contrast, the final image explores aspects of materiality, light and composition, addressing the human scale of the architecture. This image is in essence a detail of the previous images, revealing a further dimension to the project.
What defined the type of drawings you explore your proposal through?
Although it culminated in an architectural proposal, the project began by investigating a territory of 100 kilometres squared. The research focused on understanding the territory’s current fabric – its natural features as well as the infrastructure and productive organization of the land – as something that the project not only works with but also challenges. The project is explored through a series of plans that zoom in from the territorial to the human scale, revealing strategies that are specific to key scales. These include an infrastructural proposal that reconnects the villages with the cities, an agricultural reform that restructures the land around the villages, a strategy for the redevelopment of individual villages, in addition to the architectural proposal. The territorial nature of this project made it important to tell just as much of a story about the existing conditions. This was achieved through an approach where the drawings are occasionally more a reading of the territory than a proposal.
What dictated the square format, how does it relate to the project?
The square format is inherent to the AA Diploma Unit 14’s mode of representation but bears no direct relationship to the content of the project. In a sense, it’s a leveller that prevents the format from influencing the reading of each student’s work, allowing the critical attention to remain on the architecture.
To what extent did the Architectural Association’s passions and reverence for drawings influence you?
The AA is an independent institution whose approach to architectural education is unique. In such an environment that encourages the free exploration of ideas, I found the medium of drawing to be key in my personal approach to a project. Throughout my time in the school, I have been exposed to various drawing methods, which strengthened my idea that one does not need to be limited to any single mode of representation. This is an experience that I value deeply, and that continues to influence my work in architecture.
Pablo Sanchez Lopez recently graduated from the Architectural Association’s Diploma School. Having previously studied urbanism in the ETSAM in Madrid, his work focuses on developing architectural responses to urban problems. He is currently based in Paris.