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Had you been in Logroño, Spain in early September, you may have stumbled upon a surprising passageway that led to the old Tobacco Factory of La Rioja. With the factory’s arresting red-brick chimney overhead and jammed between two colonial-esque buildings, visitors were lured through a threshold of interlocking terracotta-coloured bricks that gave way to a parade of small corridors and rooms arranged within a narrow space.

This temporary installation was envisioned by Palma and Hanghar, two relatively new forces making waves in architecture today for Concéntrico, Logroño’s International Architecture and Design Festival. Open to all citizens and visitors, the festival aims to rediscover spaces of interest in the city’s historic downtown through happenings in hidden spaces that typically go unnoticed in day-to-day life.

 

Related: Garden House in La Rioja, Spain by Hanghar.

 

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The project captures a feeling of eerie familiarity as the elongated volume, articulated around a series of square rooms measuring 3.6 metres squared, mimics the disposition of a typical house. Held within the public realm, the domestic scale of the rooms feel alien as the occupant transforms from casual visitor to inhabitant as they move throughout the space.

Open to the sky, the volumes explore spatial possibilities through a rotund geometry in plan. With light water mist sprayed on guests intermittently, a gentle reminder of the exposed nature of the interior, the intervention sits in a surreal limbo between private and public space.

Square format thermo-clay bricks form the spaces “programmatically generic but spatially specific” walls. This combination of scale and an everyday material so typical of our collective imagination leaves a warmly unifying impression on guests. “Moreover, the brick block is both material and spatial unit of the project,” explain the designers, “generating a system of stereotomic appearance capable of veiling its tectonic logic thanks to the massiveness of its pieces.”

 

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On the floor, broken pieces of discarded bricks create a sense of material continuity. This textural inconsistency underfoot was also a way to slow down those who passed through as the leisurely experience offered an opportunity to reflect on this overlooked part of Logroño away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

With the red-brick chimney standing tall as a totem, Palma and Hanghar have reconsidered what public space could be and how we interact with it, as they embody the festival’s mission to form a dialogue between the city, its heritage and the rise of contemporary architecture.

 

Related: Burning Bridges Installation in a Small Russian Village by KATARSIS.

 

 

 


[Images courtesy of Hanghar. Photography by Luis Díaz Díaz.]

 

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