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Give me some polygons, nature and light: you will immediately catch my attention. I recently bumped into two different works which I would like to spend some words on.

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Image taken from javierriera.es

The first one is the the project of a spanish artist, Javier Riera, who created spectacular perspectives projecting geometrical shapes on a natural landscape. The result is a suggestive painting, where light adds depth and volume to the natural canvas and geometry gives abstraction to the view. As the artist said in an interview, “geometry has the quality of representing the driving forces of nature that are not visible, the immaterial design of things, the origin of energy and matter”. The projection of scattered geometrical shapes into such context makes me feel out of place and wonder wether the view is real or not.

Cambodian Trees, by french artist Clement Briend, is the second project that drew my curiosity. The work is based on the digital projection of images from cambodian spirits and deities on big trees in different urban areas of Phnom Phen. The projections want to be a visual representation of the divine spirits that live in our world. They have a powerful impact that creates a sort of spiritual aura in the urban environment.

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Image taken from thisiscolossal.com

In both cases the projections create an effect which is halfway between sculpture and installation, and light, together with the natural element, gives the pictures an unusual depth, and a mesmerising effect to our minds.

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“In March of 2007, when we found ourselves face to face with the possible handing over of the containers, I thought, instead of using all the containers at once for constructing a new large scale project at some pre-determined location, (…) why not distribute them among collectives with different locations and interests. And thus, a multiple, heterogeneous, and common experience would arise.”

The Role of Santiago Cirugeda in Trucks, Containers, Collectives, is basically the one of a technical consultant and provider of resources, materials and constructive know-how. Working in flexible use of constructing elements, buildings and sites, he and his team gained a thirteen-year-long experience on the topics of occupation and temporary structures. In the book, Cirugeda becomes a narrator of the lively experiences of Recetas Urbanas (Urban Prescriptions), which was founded with the aim of “putting down on paper the management elements we would need to achieve a clear objective” in building and/or improving underused sites with services for the citizens.

Two years after starting the experience of Camiones, Contenedores, Colectivos (Trucks, Containers, Collectives), the book develops a narrations in essays and project files through the complex experience of building a network of relationships ad interchanges which acquires the level of an experience-based architectural infrastructure. Each of the projects aim to plant a critical seed in a difficult urban context, underlining the lack of some services (or some civic spirit) in the area where the intervention is located. As very simple architectural installations, their power is indeed far from being small. Involving around 60 collectives in the process of defining a use, a location, and a shape for each of the containers which was used is a strong demonstration of how an architectural process can be open and based on practical activism instead of dull design obnoxiousness.

Articulated in four main sections, with contributions from various architects and theorists who went to know Cirugeda or worked with him during his career, the book of essays comes with the project files in an elegant but strong white cover with a QR-code on the front. The statements on the back warn us about the book being untrue, partial and useless and one of the first pages declares the volume incomplete and still open to contributions. Nevertheless, it can help the reader asking questions about the nature of the architectural practice, investigating facts and aspirations of this fascinating network.

Preview and buy the book here