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Architect, Colour, Competition


Ana Alirangues, Andrea Briz, Elena Gámez, Ricardo González, Javier Peláez

Amsterdam, 2016, ACP (Amsterdam Children Playschool_Archmedium Students Competition

[2nd PRIZE]

A worn-out edge. Het Stefen Hoof in Amsterdam is an old dock that attracts the crowd to its surroundings and where any citizen can still enjoy the landscape, the light and the air. A wild open enclave, where the trace of the past is still patent. A worn-out edge that could go unnoticed.

The main goal of our intervention consists in reshaping the landscape into a fresh and friendly place where a kindergarten and the current public activities could take place at the same time. Our contribution to the dock is based on maintaining its wild character, implementing the relation with the water and opening the space to citizens of all ages.

Waterscapes is a cross-generational learning space where the values we want to preserve in the dock could shine and play a part in the education of these kids. Our proposal is based on Decroly’s pedagogical theory and its three principles for children natural learning:

            -Nature: Importance of collective-to-individual gradient treatment related to indoor and outdoor spaces (Openschool references).

            -Society: Historical memory relation of the surrounding area resulting in the form of a design of programmatical strips.

            -Exercise: “Woonerf” and “Polder” concepts, combined to introduce water as an element for creating public space.

            As an ensemble, this intervention aims to consolidate the social tissue of the place and recover the forgotten traditional synergy between the water and Amsterdam.



Who influences you graphically?

We sustain that each project needs on a specific approach to the graphic design, hence our influences are different for every project. In the case of Waterscapes, our interest araised in those works that highlight the importance of the human figure as a narrative element, finding referents coming from different fields. Naive contemporary illustrators as Kate Pugsley and Izutsu Hiroyuki, old masters as Hieronymus Bosch, photographers as Gray Malin or architects as Gonzalo del Val, Maria Langarita and Victor Navarro.
We are constantly seeking out the latest way architects are able to express their interests and we try to mix it along with our Architecture School (ETSAM) legacy and the Spanish graphic heritage. Specifically, we wanted to follow the way MOS Architects work with fully colored volumes to show how architecture blends with the environment.


How does the graphic language of the project relate to the proposal?

The main program in our proposal consists of a kindergarten and a public space. Besides, we wanted to talk about quotidianity and social interaction from a closer point of view. Illustration language relates to children and how their imagination acts almost as the 5th dimension to how they live and interpret time and space. This display format is not only a graphic resource, we also believe that exploring non-conventional methodologies contributes to achieve alternative outcomes.

Education here works as an allegory to the child’s world: drawing books, cartoons, construction games… And even all these shallow excuses which may appear too “happy” or “naive” allow us to develop a serious and functional proposal fulfilling the architectural and urban needs; not forgetting to bring an stimulant environment to younger citizens to grow, learn and explore color, abstraction and composition.



How could the format of a book be explored as a tool to bring and compile the images together as well as exploring and addressing the atmosphere and objective of the project?

Architectural tradition has consistently upheld the expressive autonomy of “plant- section- elevation” trinomial as the main element for architectural representation.  This has relegated to a secondary level books or magazines as a mere distribution support, rather than a medium or a form of providing knowledge.

We do not believe as much in a screen-paper nor in inheriting the traditional narrative skills of the book, but in working with a kind of transmedia that provokes new sensations and explodes smells or touches… To be able to expand the areas of action of the architectural project by stretching its communication field.



To what extent is the board sometimes limiting in the extent to which one can explore a project?

Hierarchy of different elements on a board helps some of them to become more relevant than others and long texts are a non-worth resource. However, in a book it is possible to establish a discourse and to give the same value to every image, discretised into a set of references, processes and/or results that allow a further theory exercise.

Continuing to delivery contests in a board format is in our opinion a great indicator of the remaining inertia which opposes to innovation in our profession. A mere support which, as we have stated, limits thinking itself and the communication of more complex situations we might propose as architects. However, it is to be said, that a board always helps to synthesize more easily ideas.


What defined the images through which you reveal the proposal?

The main volume axonometric has a synoptic purpose, explaining both the architectural aspect and the urban approach, hence the relationship between them. The plan grants to understand the internal logic of the kindergarten and the educational approach. The main tactics are exposed through diagrams explaining our pedagogical, spatial and infrastructural research…While the top image explains the exterior and the building itself, the bottom one aims to relate an everyday situation where the “corner learning methodology” is introduced to empower kids into making choices of which activities they rather be doing.

To sum up, it is made clear by the whole composition, the dichotomy between the traditional Amsterdam facades’ formal aspect, and some more contemporary realities such as our pink and kitsch geometric dinosaur.



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