Marcelyn Gow introduces Izaskun Chinchilla noting the unusual conjunction of two verbs that come up in discussions of her work: “hacking” and “caring”, and how these create spaces where the generic becomes extraordinary, imbued with a different kind of architectural presence.
Chinchilla characterizes the basis of her architectural practice, research, and teaching as ecology, sociology and technology. Ecology in the sense of awareness of ecological cycles, and pursuit of low impact design; sociology as empowering users through DIY and transforming consumers into makers; and technology as exploration of recycled and organic materials, transforming cold spaces to warm spaces, pursuing a new vision of the Arts & Crafts movement.
She structures a discussion of her projects under four propositions:
1. Invert the conventional hierarchy of the design process. Instead of privileging structure, Chinchilla proposes to emphasize details as the element closest to the user’s experience of a space. She cites Naomi Shor’s “Reading in Detail” (2006) on how aesthetics focused on the sublime tends to erase feminine work and experience. She discusses two projects:
•“Organic Growth” pavilion, Governors Island, New York City (2015)
•Madrid pavilion for FITUR international tourism fair (2018)
2. Recognize existing patterns. Citing Wendell Berry, Chinchilla proposes that architects learn to study and draw from what is already happening in a location: the social or environmental capital. She argues that architects need to think about designing for reversibility – to facilitate un-doing structures that turn out to have undesirable consequences. She illustrates this with one project:
•The refurbishment of the Castillo de Garcimuñoz (2002-2013)
3. Recognize that half of the project is already there. “The world is already full, we are not creating it, we are just intensifying, changing, rearranging, reconnecting it.” She suggests that the study of a site should not be limited to exploring regularities – constant patterns – but also irregularities, singularities. Under this theme, she discusses two projects:
•Camping facilities, services and landscaping for Alora, Malaga, at the Caminito Del Rey hiking path
•Co-working space, Gracia, Barcelona (2019)
4. Focus on the backing of the carpet. Chincilla poses that the notion of architectural image needs to be enlarged. The “backing” of a building – its environmental impact, the social forces deployed, its political model – should be deployed as the generator of an image that’s understandable, accessible and engaging. Related to this idea, she describes two projects:
•“Fortuny” auditorium in a historic building for Casa Decor, Madrid (2017)
•Sunbrella textile installation, Madrid (2019)