Guerrilla Architecture

While guerrilla gardening is a familiar term for some of you, guerrilla architecture is still unknown to the most.
This kind of structures are an expression of a social movement that tackles political an social issues and responds directly to the current needs of a community. Guerrilla architecture is often characterized by its parasitic appearance and manifested as temporary structures, that are cheap and easy to build and have the ability to be dismantled easily. On the other hand, old and abandoned buildings are turned into experimental playgrounds and their premises are being reused and adapted to new functions.

Javier Sánchez, a Mexican architect, who is often associated with the term guerrilla architecture is known for his contemporary approach and innovative design solutions.
In 2004 his firm JSa (formerly Higuera + Sánchez) realized the project 13 de Septiembre in Colonia Escandón, an urban neighborhood in Mexico City. The project developed out of a  former warehouse, that was recycled and transformed into 37 small, 56 m² residential units. The spacious patio in the centre includes a communal space and offers access to the apartments on different levels through bridges and stairways.

Half-built properties and abandoned industrial buildings in Spain, that resulted out of the economical crisis, appear as urban skeletons and form the basis for the work of the architect and activist Santiago Cirugedas. His approach to architecture is guided by the conviction that buildings should be highly functional, cheap and be a reason for people to come together rather than just having a beautiful appearance.
La Carpa (The Big Top) was the first notable guerrilla architecture project, developed by the collective he initiated: Recetas Urbanas. The project consisted of an independent, self-built art and culture centre in downtown Sevilla. By occupying an unused piece of public space, Cirugeda and Jorge Barroso teamed up to assemble a place for culture, theater and circus performances. Materials from previous projects were used to build the main construction on site, the Araña (The Spider), an office space made from a shipping container, which is carried by four half-bent metal legs. To secure the stay on this land, Barroso and the theater team lived one year onsite and even got a preliminary land concession from authorities.

Guerrilla architecture can also refer to small pop-up structures such as the paraSITE, by Michael Rakowitz. The inflatable shelter was designed for homeless people and stands in direct context with the urban spaces in Bosten, New York and Cambridge. The small structures are attached to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. The air keeps the shelter warm and inflates the double membrane structure at the same time.

Another example for pop-up guerrilla architecture are the mobile living units, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, by the emerging young Belgian artist Karl Phillips. The triangular shaped modules adopt the language and shape of advertising billboards to blend into the urban context and temporarily occupy the public space. The nomadic performers, who occupied the shelters, financed their living by the sale of the advertising space.



For more information about the projects, see the links below:

13-Septiembre by Javier Sánchez

The Spider by Santiago Cirugedas

ParaSITE by Michael Rakowitz

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Karl Philips

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