Once Upon A Time in Alcorcón
Andrea Molina @ Madrid Architecture School (ETSAM)
The history of our cities is built into their architecture, an architecture which functions as the mute record of the events which have marked the urban space, which have named streets, opened squares, and raised towers and monuments. Taken together, these discrete fragments generate a psychological map of our cities, and give them their identity.
In the Alcorcón industrial estate, however, events have occurred which haven’t been captured in its architecture or its urban space. If these events have transcended architecture, though, they are still attested to by the industrial objects which played such crucial roles in them, and remain present in the memory of the locals.
The memory of the clubs of Costa Polvoranca, the silos where toxic rapeseed oil was stored in the 80s, the warehouse storing the chairs used in the Gürtel affair, the crane which build the estate, the concrete factory, the pylons for an electricity which will no longer need to be transported by cables, and the buildings and machinery abandoned by the city council. All of these elements have fused together to give space for the key programs of the new neighbourhood which, with a new infrastructure, connects with the city and with the park which gives it its name.
“They say that space has memory, I wanted to give it a voice as well.”
Who influences you graphically?
I have been both conceptually and graphically influenced by Cedric price and his images for the Fun Palace, the drawings for “Parc de la Villette” of Bernad Tschumi, Peter Cook and Archigram’s illustrations for the Instant and Plug-in City and John Hejduk’s sketches in his book “Victims” at the most. All of them encouraged me to work mixing hand drawing and accurate CAD-drawings which produces this aesthetic in between technical and fairy-tale illustration.
What was the effect and purpose of overlaying a white render and the sketch?
The purpose behind it was to speed up the designing process. Once some of the ideas were already settled, like the one of using recycled industrial items (for example the concrete factory for a fun-factory or the containers for student housing) and how they would work together in structural terms, I tried out different possibilities in the model, then printed them and afterwards I started to think with the hand how living inside those spaces would be. White and black were just a neutral volume of thousand possibilities awaiting to be defined.
What is your take on colour? what dictated the interchange between white and black- what role does the red play?
The decision for the graphic appearance of the project comes from the idea of telling the project like it was a real story that had already happened. I wanted the drawings to look like the illustrations of a black and white comic, an image that lets the person who observes envision the colours and textures that it would have in reality, like a colour book awaiting to be brought to live by the crayons of a child. Just one colour (red) was needed in order to identify the changes I was making on the old industrial items, so my proposals were easy to identify. This line drawings had also the double intention to reduce the images to the essence of architecture: lines defining volumes in the space. That was a personal research that confronts the current tendency, colourful images and realistic rendering. I wanted the project to be conceptual and not to be compromised with a specific aesthetic tendency, it looked forward to incite the imagination in the observer.
What was your work process in terms of project development and images?
I always start drafting by hand, it is impossible for me to work with the computer at first. When some parts of the project are settled, I draw and model them in either Autocad, Rhinoceros or Revit. Afterwards I take some neutral renders of it and then comes the hand as the thinking element again, correcting and designing what was not well or yet done. It is a cyclic-process until the project is finish, or time is over let’s say.
To what extent were the images a tool through which to explore your architectural intervention?
Working with images showed me what plans, sections or elevations couldn’t just by themselves. That is what I also love representing architecture in axonometric view; for me it is a combination between technical/architectural drawings and image. It let me understand in an accurate way how everything fit together in proportion or spatial terms and also shows the aesthetic intentions of the project.
Do you have an opinion on the Eurovegas project which was supposed to be built in the area?
Yes, for sure I do. I think It was going to be a massive and aberrant resort that intended to land in the outskirts of Madrid, inserting fake pieces of colonial and eclectic architecture covered by the most indecent luxury, a mausoleum of buildings that were about to destroy the landscape and generate a no-place, with no identity, no relationship with the space, the inhabitants, our culture and our history.
If this had come through- how and to what extent do you feel your project would have developed?
Given that the concept of the Project was to tell the hidden history of the place through the architectural interventions in the public space, events that still remain present in the memory of the locals, I think it would have had a huge support and acceptance from the citizen’s side, but however, many difficulties to satisfy the current urban legislation.
If even so the project had come true, the industrial state would have turned into a real integrated fragment of city, a place with its own identity where the squares, streets and public spaces were telling what the place was in the past at the same time they provide a new reality for the industrial state. It would have not been an imposed standard model like “Eurovegas” but a new place that emerge from what it had been before. They say that space has memory, I wanted to give it a voice as well.