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Donostia inaugurates its second ephemeral pavilion as part of the Mugak/ Biennial

  • This is the 'Argi' pavilion, designed by the UPV-EHU's School of Architecture for the Mugak/ International Architecture Biennial of the Basque Country, which from today will serve as the headquarters of the School itself in the Alderdi Eder park.
  • Together with the 'Lost forest' pavilion, which opened in Sagüés in October, and 'Mugak/ HABIT[atu]Z', which opened yesterday in Bilbao, Mugak/ now has three pavilions that take architecture to the street.
  • The pavilion has been built using materials left over from the production of a film shoot. It is made up of solid wood modules and a textile covering, a 'bubble' that allows sunlight to penetrate during the day and at dusk is illuminated by its interior activity.
  • The interior walls serve as exhibition modules for different projects developed by both students and teachers, which will be addressed through different conferences. In addition, the pavilion will also house different classes of the Enabling Master's Degree.

The Basque Country International Architecture Biennial Mugak/ now has three ephemeral pavilions: 'Argi', located in the Alderdi Eder park in the heart of San Sebastian, was inaugurated today. It is the pavilion designed and built by the Higher Technical School of Architecture (ETSA) of the UPV-EHU. It now joins 'Lost forest', located in Sagüés since October, and yesterday's inauguration of 'Mugak/ HABIT[atu]Z', in Bilbao, to take the reflections promoted by the Biennial to the streets.

"This pavilion is an example of the creative capacity of architecture and its power to invite citizens to reflect on the street; the UPV-EHU School of Architecture has been collaborating with Mugak/ since its beginnings and its role as a laboratory of ideas is of great value", said the director of Housing, Land and Architecture of the Basque Government, Pablo García Astrain, at this morning's presentation.

"These pavilions translate the motto of this Biennial, 'rebuild, reinhabit, rethink', into the public space of cities, and represent the diversity of ways of understanding ephemeral architecture", said María Arana, curator of the fourth edition of Mugak/. The director of the ETSA of San Sebastián and principal promoter of the pavilion, Jon Begiristain, explained that it is contemplated as "an extension of the teaching space with a singular shape and materiality, designed for itinerancy. A modular system that can be easily transported and assembled very quickly and that lends itself to a variety of future uses".

It consists of industrialised pieces of solid wood, which build a 12×12 metre enclosure. It has been burnt on the outside using the Yakisugi technique, a traditional Japanese system for protecting wood that consists of controlled surface burning. This treatment preserves the wood from biotic agents, gives it a homogeneous image and highlights the solidity of the base in contrast with the light covering of the pavilion. Between the boxes that delimit the enclosure, there are free spaces that serve as entrances and are closed with doors of the same material. Thus, when the pavilion is closed, it is a rounded, abstract volume; when it is open, it is a walkable space open to the flow of visitors who can pass through it in all directions.

The roof, on the other hand, consists of an inflated textile bubble, the most visible element of the pavilion. Generated by a parametric process of searching for complex shapes, it builds a characteristic volumetry that allows the outside light to enter during the day. At dusk, it becomes a luminous element that gives an idea of the pavilion's activity.

Continent and content

In addition to the pavilion itself as a tool for reflection on architecture at street level, 'Argi' brings with it a series of exhibitions, classes, dialogues and conferences that are added to the programme of this fourth Mugak/ Biennial, and will deal with the future of cities, architecture and teaching.

Thus, there will be five small exhibitions: they are located on the walls of the pavilion itself, which serve as modules to show different projects, both student and teacher research projects, exhibited by means of videos, models, images and plans. All of them will be addressed through a series of conferences.

The first of these will be given by the architect Lucía Pérez-Moreno, who will present tomorrow the 'Interactive Digital Map of Women's Architecture, Spain, 1965-2000', which shows in a visual, simple and forceful way a large number of works of architecture, urban planning, design and landscape designed by women. Then, at 18:30, an intergenerational debate will begin on the new ways of rethinking architecture that women have contributed, and will contribute in the future, to the discipline. It will be led by Maivi Morrás (ETSAM 1977), Gloria Aríztegui (Bordeaux 1989), Lucía Pérez-Moreno (ETSAUN 2002) and Itziar Molinero (ETSA UPV-EHU 2018). This activity is organised by Matxalen Acasuso, Irati Burgués and Olatz Ocerin.

On 15 November, at 12:30h, architects Ainara Sagarna, Aritz Diez Oronoz and Ezekiel Collantes will give the conference 'Rethinking boundaries: between the rural and the suburban'. They will address this project presented in 'Argi' on how, since the 1990s, suburbanisation has had a notable impact on small rural towns in the Basque Country.

Then, at 13:30h, 'Urban Tempos' will begin, a conference by architects Iñigo Peñalba and Mikel Azkona, which deals with this other project exhibited inside 'Argi'. It deals with how territories and cities are immersed in a continuous process of transformation and constant change both in their urban fabric and in their limits, and how sometimes, due to a lack of planning, the social, economic and environmental needs of the moment are left unanswered.

'Argi' will also host a workshop on research in architecture, organised by Ula Iruretagoiena and guided by María Auxiliadora Gálvez, on the 17th at 12h. 'Bodies as data sensing (BADS)' will approach this field from the shared physiology of its living organisms. The workshop focuses on understanding the city as a medium of distributed cognition where perceptual 'errors' such as synaesthesia become a vehicle for research. It is part of a subject that is postulated as a space for questioning some axioms "that we assume as a starting point when designing architecture or about what is left unreflected in other exercises".

Finally, on 22 November, at 12:30h, Jon Muniategiandikoetxea, Ibon Salaberria, Iñigo García Odiaga and Asier Acuriola will present 'In Times of Poly-Crisis: Food and Energy'. The pavilion exhibits several projects from productive neighbourhoods, which deal with how the times we live in "do not ensure energy or food security. This statement is neither an invention nor a fiction", says the report that was presented at the last Davos forum. On the other hand, as the European Commission points out, the pandemic is but one example; and increasing droughts, floods, forest fires and new pests constantly indicate that our food system must move towards sustainability and reach higher levels of resilience.

In addition, the modules contemplated for content will be completed with pieces created in the FabLab of the ETSA of the UPV-EHU. In addition to this programme, a conference will be held tomorrow at 11:30 am by Noa González and Ara González (Estudio Gonzalez Arquitectura). Under the title 'Brick Collection', they will talk about their work and recent works, within the Hispalyt Ceramic Forum.

These sessions offered by 'Argi' will be completed with double sessions of the Enabling Master, which moves its classes to the pavilion on Thursdays at 15:30h and 17:30h. The first will take place on the 9th, with two lectures on the work and recent works of architects Ignacio Borrego and Gaizka Altuna Charterina and Francisco Cifuentes, respectively. The following day, November 16, the practice of the RUE studio will be presented by the founders and directors Raul Montero and Emilio Pardo, with the conference 'Diary architectures'. He will be followed by one of the recent winners of a special mention from the jury of the Peña Ganchegui Prize for Young Basque Architecture 2023, Ander Rodríguez, from MUGARA, with 'Towards the Essential'. Finally, on the 23rd, the architects Beatriz Matos and Alberto Martinez, from Matos Castillo Arquitectos, will give a conference to close the pavilion's programme.

The Programme is being prepared