Something Exceptional

December 5, 2011

As he states in his website, Luis Urculo, founder of Estudio Luis Urculo and guest designer of this issue’s cover, is “interested in the peripheral side to architecture, the processes, developments and approaches that can be manipulated, sampled and translated to other scales and adapted to the work as it takes shape, creating new scenarios / experiences / expectations not considered previously.” The projects that follow are a perfect reflection of the outcome of this approach to architecture.


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© Luis Urculo.


35 projects 35 exhibitions 35 actions
Exhibition in three times.

/opening: manifesto
We start with the standard panel, used ‘traditionally’ to display an architect’s work: name, chosen project, explanatory text, etc., and then we cross-breed it with a living, unrelated language; the language of demonstrations, in which resources are usually improvised to express aims, issues and attitudes in urban communication scenarios such as sheets hung on balconies, pennants on motorways, home-made propaganda, etc. They all act as a short-term base and an active vehicle for ideas throughout the city. Why not use them for architecture? We want to make it obvious what the authors wish to express through their work, manifesting, displaying and publicizing it.

/direct composition
We will speak in the past tense; the exhibition was actually held a few months ago…

We decided to use demonstrators and banners as exhibition material and composition structures. A static demonstration was installed on 35 sites, one per project, scenarios where the exhibition was actually installed. Everything started and ended here. The photos/posters and the video are the record of that moment, tools that let us stretch, recompose and broaden those instants in order to bring architecture and its authors out of their ‘sheltered’ conventional dissemination space.

/domestic actions and their echoes
The materials produced by the teams were presented in a second chapter of anonymous actions, sampled from these standardized ‘cases’ in houses, public spaces, highways, shop interiors, etc., with voices guided by the manifestos and slogans sent in by the selected teams.

/double scale
We thought that limiting ourselves to a single space, the so-called ‘official’ space for the exhibition, seemed to be a waste of a great opportunity. The specialized language that is normally used for its dissemination rarely reaches the population that has to live with these projects. That is why we chose to use the city itself as the backing material, communicating by means of large format posters that co-inhabited the space with advertisements for concerts, theaters, and language courses.

The exhibition basically consisted of 35 posters that were displayed simultaneously in the exhibition hall and in the main capital cities.

Using a low-cost, high-impact system, we contracted local poster agencies, the other ‘Biennial ‘assemblers’, who were sent a complete set of the projects that plastered the streets of Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, etc., at the same time as the exhibition happened on in the main venue. This produced two scales of publicity: local and national; specialized and general-public.

This was a take-away exhibition. All the contents were available for visitors to choose, pick up and partially or totally recompose in spaces away from the source, such as their homes, institutions, etc. The boundaries of the physical space and the display of a unique exhibited object were erased. Everything was public and accessible.

The exhibition hall became a centre for the project’s reconstruction and autopsy. Visitors could peruse all the documentation provided by the participants and the results of the manifestos, and monitor this musical score of actions.

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Poster. © Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

Concept/design/art direction: Luis Urculo
Production: Germán Díaz (Viuda de Ramírez)
Graphic production: Luis Urculo / Thisisgrey

Asa Nakano, Gabriel Alvarez Osorio, Barbara Yuste, Javier Somoza, Alfonso Herranz (photography), Dani Robert (graphics), Jorge L Conde (document photography)

Photo extras
Virginie Granger, Laure Boudès, Mylène Grolleau, Jimena Rodríguez Luque, Adalberto Gómez Chong, Ana Karen García Fajardo, Liliana Pérez Morales, Claire Hachet,Sandor Guba, Ismeni Espejel, Cristina Blanco, Raquel Fernandez Antoñanzas, Marina Lles, Victoria Vin, Teng Chong, Zuloark, Joaquín Jalvo, Anni Tomich, Espartaco Martínez, Elisa Fernández Ramos, Alicia Díaz.


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© Luis Urculo.

Homage to Madrid through 270 artistic projects that are currently ‘on pause,’ drawing attention to the sometimes inconsistent and unclear nature of architecture and design.

The exhibition space was contained in a one-room box made of pinewood, which was surrounded by 1000 wooden folding chairs. No information was given on the exterior as to what guests would encounter inside. Instead, there was a light sign with and abstract figure.

Upon entry into the ‘box,’ visitors were confronted by a library of books with photos and information about projects on pause. Some of the projects were featured twice in the room, which contained a ‘cemetery’ of 500 books in total.

The books had a number of blank pages inside, intended to be filled in in the future. Some of them also stated the reason why the projects, which are both public and private, are on hold. The detailed information about each project was printed at the back of each volume.

Inside the room, a voice narrated the typology of the projects included, such as “…five hotel towers, three pubic schools, two housing blocks, a sport center….” etc. The sound is considered as a material, constant, and creates an invisible structure.

A heavy fog also lingered to effect visibility. A waiting room for projects, to explain the unclear future of this library of ideas, cannot be clear; it needs to be as foggy as their upcoming reality. Also, it adds a certain level of intimacy.

The floor was covered by a black and white print of a classic carpet. The ceiling was a stretched lycra surface screen that gave a constant light and endless space to the room.

The project was shown at the International Architectural Congress Construtec 2010.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

Project: Luis Urculo & Luis Díaz Mauriño
Graphic Design: Luis Urculo
Sound design: André Castro
Production: Viuda de Ramirez
Photos: Jorge L Conde, Mauricio Freyre


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© Luis Urculo.

Artwork for Philippe Starck at Ramses Restaurant, Madrid.

The project is an extension of the graphic image and identity created for the space, the character and biography of which was exclusively invented as a living structure, an endless puzzle of life and information.

The space is organized on three levels, covered by a complex universe of coded notations, formulas, obscure messages, and drawings hiding sentences, a graphic constellation that builds the path of Ramses’ life full of outstanding experiences, such as receiving the Nobel Awards (just for the pleasure of knowing what it’s like to give a lecture to a Swedish audience) or getting sex surgery. Each piece of the project is part of a biographical jigsaw: a visit card, the menu, the walls of the restaurant…essential to reconstruct the life of Ramses. The space and graphic image becomes one, fragments of life.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.

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© Luis Urculo.


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© Luis Urculo.

A video project in 3 acts

1: AIC (size)
A guide takes us through the areas of the Intelligent Automotive Center. Her movements work as a tool to reveal the scale through domestic rituals like the distance measured by steps, direct explanations on the walls…

The simultaneous use of screens adds an understanding of spatial qualities such as depth, distance or light, explaining the building through a distant and abstract tour by a voyeur obsessed with the measure of things.

Filmed on a project by ACXT – Javier Pérez Uribarri.
Featuring Cristina Blanco.

How can memories transform the space? What if its through the eye and perception of an 8-year old boy? Is space and scale linked to reality?

We worked with the interpretation of the project from a users point of view: the school children. A swimming pool is a building with scrubbers, waterproofing, wardrobes …. but it can also be a mountain that one day some men got filled with water.

Filmed on a project by ACXT – Javier Pérez Uribarri.

3: EPSILON (complexity)
A trailer can seduce, summarizing an experience without disclosing the contents, creating a desire.

Epsilon building is a mystery. Inside, the engines and bodies of Formula 1 cars competing in the World Race championships are developed. Spaces are as dramatic and spectacular as the wind tunnel that is inaccessible to the general public. Furnaces the size of a house. Machines that build other machines. Everything is in a complex and coded neatness. Even the building plans are hidden.

After touring the building for the first time, we decided to transmit the wonder and the strange beauty that occurs when you find for the first time something unattainable, incomprehensible.

Filmed on a project by ACXT – Javier Pérez Uribarri.