After 10 years together as founding partners of PKMN Architectures, Carmelo Rodríguez, Rocío Pina and David Pérez regrouped and relaunched as Enorme Studio, a design and construction firm specializing in the development of mobile systems for residential, corporate and retail applications.
Eager to flaunt their experience for the local public, the trio partnered with Mini Hub, a local co-working space that caters to creative types, to conceive Mountain on the Moon, a portable office and urban lab that came together to match with the Madrid Madrid Design Festival.
Office with a separate seating area
At first glance, the installation located in Plaza Santa María Soledad Torres Acosta resembles a gable roof in profile, painted with a stylized representation of a mountain range. As the visitors approach, they realize that the structure is actually three separate pieces: a central room similar to a greenhouse flanked by triangular seating areas, the steps of crude plywood interspersed with mossy growths. But since the sets of seating They are on wheels, they have the ability to separate and move to create independent elements.
Meeting in the stepped seats of plywood
Called"Mountain on the Moon", the structure has a glass office with a pointed roof that is lined with mobile wooden seating structures, which have a place to sit and relax and an area of grass with plants, like a mountain.
The interior of the office has been configured with a line of desks on one side and on the other it is a comfortable rest area. The desks have USB charging points and reading points illuminated by solar energy, and the structure has the possibility of charging devices with the kinetic energy generated by the movement as well.
Inside the office, inquisitive workers will find plywood workstations that have USB charging points and solar-powered reading lights, as well as large floor cushions for cozy confabulations. The space will also house several workshops and debates on urban planning with designers who are imagining new ways of making cities.
The project seeks to encourage the interaction and participation of the locals during the first edition of the Design Festival, scheduled in the Spanish capital throughout the month of February, thanks to an interactive design and a series of workshops and daily conferences.
A mixture between an experimental laboratory and a piece of urban furniture, the structure-performance brings together many of the characteristics that make the success of public facilities of this type: plants, sustainability, events and experimentation. But really a temporary realization like this, which invites the inhabitants of the city to"sit and chat while they charge their phone's battery by means of solar or kinetic energy", will be enough"to prove participation"in the city as their designers wait? In recent years,"participatory design"has become an important asset for architects and designers struggling for more livable cities.
In Madrid, the idea of the city as a"communal project"has its roots in the indignant movement, in 2011."We could say that it inaugurated a period of urban experimentation", explains Adolfo Estalella, co-curator of the exhibition series" Madrid, by the way"- an archive of"disobedient stories"- currently on display at CentroCentro in Madrid.
"The people were taken to the street, to organize assemblies, to discuss and work for their neighborhood,"continues Estalella, so"many inhabitants of the city began to interact with the city." This led to the organic development of many community-led initiatives, such as community gardens, busy social centers and many grassroots projects that allowed people to explore new ways of inhabiting the city. "In this context,"Estalella adds,"several architectural guerrillas, such as Todo por la Praxis, Zuloark, Basurama and PKMN, played a key role in the renewal of the city with new hopes."
The main challenge was to allow the inhabitants of the city to experiment with its urban landscape
The meeting spaces, such as theaters, cinemas and all kinds of structures that require spontaneous meetings, became the symbols of this architectural guerrilla. Recurrently in the Enorme projects, this type of buildings encourages citizens to become spectators / conscious actors of the city. As Carmelo Rodríguez, co-founder of Enorme, explains,"it has become a Mission Impossible to find places in Madrid where a group of people can sit comfortably and talk without having to pay." Then, in Enorme, we become obsessed with any type of furniture that can generate new situations. That is why we are concerned about developing this type of prototypes that for us are small victories in the urban battlefield."
However, while the mobile office Mountain in the Moon presents a series of green terraces to sit and a space (the greenhouse) to learn and exchange, its limits resist the fact that the structure was not born from the consultation of people, It was developed as some kind of offer not requested by a private company.
The members of Enorme argue that"cities can obtain a great benefit from a controlled hybridization between the public and private spheres. Unlike the bar terraces that occupy a large percentage of public spaces in cities, Mountain in the Moon proposes an alternative form of mediation between private brands and public spaces."
Unfortunately, however, the project appears as a container so carefully polished that it leaves no space for unexpected events and spontaneity to occur. On the contrary of all those collective structures built from the bottom up during the years of the protests.
"As designers,"they argue,"we believe that our role is, first of all, to build a direct and deep dialogue with the local population. Do not impose our options from top to bottom. So that there is a real awareness of everyone about their own abilities and creative abilities". So that the true bottom-up actions convince the inhabitants to reappropriate the urban context and encourage themselves to take care of it.