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Dressing up the square


All dolled up.

Do you remember when you were a child and your mother forced you to put on your best clothes on sundays? Sundays used to be - and sometimes still are - the day in which people gathered together outside, in the public space, so it was important to make a good impression, to look well put together. As you ventured out, you would be scrutinized by the entire city. The plaça, the main town square, held the role of the agora, the place were the citizenship was made and discussed, a crucial arena.

Things have now changed: the agora has somehow - and partially - migrated elsewhere, but public spaces still remain important, they are still the places where the city's identity is created and performed. And if we haven't chased to put a great amount of effort in looking fab, why not putting the same energy in dressing up our plaças?

This is the story that unparelld'arquitectes recounts in their video for "Dressing up the square" project. Located in Olot, the Sant Miquel is a working-class neighbourhood, grown around the road leading to Girona. The economic transformations of the area and the arrival of a great number of newcomers in the past two decades, resulted in this to be a very diverse area in terms of population. The square, which mesures 65 m on each side, needed to undergo a process of re appropriation by the citizen of the town. We read here that the project behind this intervention, included in the Comprehensive Plan for Urban Rehabilitation – and agreed upon by the neighbours themselves –, aimed to enhance comfort within this neighbourhood's most representative public space. To do that, unparelld'arquitectes gave it a new attire. So at a minimum costs, the square once again became the centre of social life, the space was renovated… literally dressed up.

The plaça got renovated using geometric patterns made with pink and red paint: this intervention highlighted the spatial quality of the space and gave a sense of lightness, brightness and colour to the concrete, following its own inflection and highlighting the textile nature of the support. Thus the concrete was transformed with a very domestic touch to become a renovated neighbourhood's communal space, where all of the neighbours can meet and feel at home: the perfect backdrop for a paper-costumes parade, the traditional farandula dances and the outdoor concerts.

The video documents the playful atmosphere that surrounded the process. Newcomers, children and elderly women were all involved in the project: citizenship is a work in progress and so is the video. We see the square in trasformation, how it becomes a place for people, how the neighbourhood gathered together to create the parade and the cheap paperish dresses - for once the question was not about showing off but about showing up.

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)


Architect: unparelld'arquitectes (Eduard Callís Freixas, Guillem Moliner Milhau)
Collaborator: Jordi Moret, Jordi Collell, Ramon Heras
Mentioned project: Dressing up the square (2015)
Project location: Sant Miquel, Olot, Spain
Editor: Imma Serra Maroto
Images: Olot Tv
Promoted by: Ajuntament d'Olot
Music: Pascal Comelade, L'argot du bruit

Spain 2016
Duration: 3'00"