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Santiago Cirugeda – Guerrilla Architect

Santiago Cirugeda – Guerrilla Architect

zaterdag 9 juni 2018 00:49
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                Santiago Cirugeda is a Spanish architect, from Seville, that after seven years of working by himself created Recetas Urbanas (Urban Recipes), an architecture office which develops self-build projects that the common citizen can use to appropriate and occupy a space. He defends an ‘unselfish’ architecture that also helps the non-architects to improve the spacial qualities of their environment.

                 “(…) an architecture that is cheap and available to all.”[1]

                One of his most famous projects, which is also featured in the Al Jazeera documentary about this architect, is called La Carpa, which means The Tent. This project is an artistic space for Varuma Theatre and Andalusia School of Circus Arts and it is composed by different structures that were either recycled or reused from previous experiences. This is a space that is aiming “to become a reference for the Andalusian independent cultural world”[2] and it has different programs for the buildings, such as a training area, storage for technical equipment and staging and a meeting area.

                Cirugeda knows that his architecture is not beautiful and he plays with that, because in the end that is not his main goal. In a world where architecture is again viewed as the perfect combination of Vitruvius triangle – Firmitas (Firmness), Utilitas (Functional adequacy) and Venustas (beauty)- this architect rebels against that concept and replaces beauty with society urgent needs. Even though architects always try to make everything possible, including the beauty of a building in extreme conditions, it is useless to believe that it will be possible in every case. Moreover, when building with recycled materials, with a flexible structure which can be dismantled and is necessary to build as cheap and as quickly as possible (in case you are occupying a space), the beauty of the construction is left behind. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no spatial qualities. 

                Santiago Cirugeda plays with the fact that everybody tells him that his architecture is interesting but ugly, saying that “everybody has an ugly friend”[3]. He criticises that contemporary architecture is all about beauty but in his mind “(…) architecture is more than that, it should be functional, cheap and it should be a reason to come together”[4].


     ‘Architecture as a social art. Architecture like an urban and social renovation.’ [5]                                                                                                      Santiago Cirugeda

                To sum up, this architecture office, Recetas Urbanas, searches for sites that have been left out after demolition or have been neglected and abandoned. As it was said before they also help non-architects to take action in their own cities, even when getting a permit for construction is impossible. One of the most known quotes from Cirugeda is that “Citizens should have the freedom to act in their own city, city planning laws cut this freedom”[6].

[1]  Spatial Agency – Santiago Cirugeda [online].

[2]  Recetas Urbanas- La Carpa: Artistic Space [online].

[3] Al Jazeera English – Rebel Architecture: Guerrilla Architect [online].

[4]  Al Jazeera English – Rebel Architecture: Guerrilla Architect [online].

[5] Spatial Agency – Santiago Cirugeda [online].

[6]  Spatial Agency – Santiago Cirugeda [online].

Mariana Lorga Gonçalves Simões

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