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Urban Think Tank

The Game of the City.

In the game of the city, the players set the rules. As the game's cultural and social conditions shift over time, so does the city's identity. Xarranca translates the urban game of hopscotch both as a symbolic metaphor and physical platform for the game of the city to be played.

The Xarranca Pavilion is a temporary installation at the Placa del Mar beach of Barcelona produced by the Urban Think Tank (UTT) at ETH Zurich and ESARQ-UIC in response to their invitation to participate in the Tricentenari BCN commemorations. The pavilion scales up the familiar ground plan of the children's game xarranca (hopscotch), leading its visitors from sol (ground) to cel (sky). The game's journey can be understood as a symbol for a city's shifting identity across various scales of time, including the scale of the century, the year, the day, and the minute. The pavilion recalls its site's history of marine culture by deploying references to prior materials (nets of fishermen) and forms (sails of fishing boats, pitched roofs of boat houses) that existed in prior generations. Collectively, these abstract emulations of historic site attributes compose a new urban setting for contemporary culture and social interaction to play out.

The film layers audial interview responses from the site's local inhabitants on top video footage of the pavilion in use in order to portray the public perception of the project. A wide array of activities is portrayed in short, intimate video clips. Time lapse photography is utilized to stitch together these incremental shifts over a broader scale of time, explicitly documenting the flux of the site's activity.

Xarranca is an open field for members of the public to play their individual game. People can engage the pavilion however and whenever they please, whether it be individually or collectively, planned or spontaneously, actively as a performer or passively as a spectator. Much like the participatory game of the city, people are free to experiment with its sanctioned or unsanctioned potential uses. As the Xarranca pavilion demonstrates, the game of the city is inclusive of anybody with a desire to play.

(Story by Alex Petruso, The Architecture Player)


Architect: ETH Zürich + Urban Think Tank, Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner
Mentioned project: Xarranca (2014)
Project location: Barcelona, Spain
Producers: Alfredo Brillembourg, Hubert Klumpner
Production Assistant: Alexis Kalagas
Co-directors: Daniel Schwartz, Michael Waldrep
Project Manager: Danny Wills, Katerina Kourkoula
Construction Coordinator: Giulia Celentano
Project Assistant: Alexandra Zervudachi
School Invited: ESARQ-UIC
Coordinador/Director: Vicenç Sarrablo
Tutors: Jaime Batlle, Marta Garcia-Orte, Eva Damiá
Students: Sorina-Stefania Brasoveanu, Paulina Isaza, Genís Vilalta, Marta Guixé, Marta Delgado, Sergi Viñals, Alexandre Martínez i Llapart, Albert F. Jové, Monika Rovira, Jennifer Vilà, Carlotta Cofano, Marta Esqueu, Francesc Roca, Jaume Nart, Galam Kim, Emma Mª Vives, Clàudia Gratacós, Eduard Pascual, Júlia Rocaspana
Rammed Earth Experts: Sandra Bestraten, Emili Hormías
Structural Consultant: Samuel Molist
Graphic Design: Mayra Monobe, Jorge Alavedra

Switzerland 2014
Duration: 3'41''