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Paris/Pamplona - a sensitive and European approach of the periphery through the experience of the project Repensar la Periferia.

The collaborative process in architecture in the heart of urban planning issues

Photo credits · Maddi Barber


An introduction to the subject of the Rurapolis through a shared experience in different parts of the European territory. Here, the comparison between Paris and Pamplona is used to highlight a sensitive approach to the suburban dimension and alternative urbanistic practices through the experience of the Repensar la Periferia [Rethinking the Periphery] project.

Paris is the centralized European metropolis par excellence. Its mode of development is emblematic of the episodes it has gone through from the industrialisation to our post-industrial era. However, it is obvious that the City of Light shines differently on its outskirts, its influence becoming more diffuse as one moves further outside, into the territory. It is at least since the studies for the Grand Paris project, including a more sensitive approach to the territory, the open approach to participatory methods in the research, analysis and conceptual process that we have begun to see the urban space differently than as a concentric diagram. As soon as the peripherical horizons open up, a different urban planning of the city is possible.

Since 2017 we have been implementing our project Repensar la Periferia in Pamplona, the capital of Navarra, Spain. With the main objective of making visible, through a participatory and collaborative process using culture, architecture and contemporary art, peripheral spaces ignored or neglected over time. Why is Pamplona the ideal city to study the periphery? How did the Repensar la Periferia project come about and what is its methodology? Taking up the expression, a sensitive approach to the periphery of the capitals of France and Navarre allows us to investigate living urban matter on two distinct scales and to propose means of action for the periphery on the European territory.

The stainless steel regional train with orange skai seats of the R line passed through the suburban areas of the south of the Île-de-France region, the forest of Fontainebleau, then industrial areas without contours to finally approach the buildings of Paris. Taking it gave one a feeling of being far outside of the city's crown. On this train, there was an impatience to get closer to the goal - to the pulse of life, where it is boiling, and to feel the great freedom procured by the anonymity of the multitude. Growing up close to Paris, without really belonging to it, means that, to reach the capital, one travels through the landscapes of this periphery of the periphery - the rural and suburban suburbs, to finally approach the borders of the ring, its buildings, the Gare de Lyon and its monuments.

Having lived on the edge of a large metropolis such as Paris, but outside its limits and beyond its periphery (connected to it, however, by public transport that takes you to its centre in less than an hour) make it possible to feel the outlines of the urban environment and appreciate its multiple facets.

In order to deepen her analysis of the Grand Paris project, the architect and urban planner Paola Viganó, in association with Bernardo Secchi and team took up residence in a pavilion in the Paris suburbs for the duration of their study of the metropolis[1]. From this off-centre base camp, the urban planners travelled through the territory of the metropolis, photographing every corner, the vastness, the buildings, meeting its inhabitants and listening to them. The best way to think about the urban planning project is to live it. To touch the material of the territory, to experience its temporality, and to feel the existing layers. It is through this "fundamental experience[2]", according to her, that the large-scale planning - a proposal for the Grand Paris territory, based on the notions of "porous city", "horizontal metropolis" and, through these perceptions of horizontality, of porosity, the concept of "diffuse city[3]" - was able to take place.

In opposition to these concepts, the widely shared imaginary of the European city is built around a perception originating from the medieval period, even though the metropolis as a territorial formation has not stopped evolving. Yet, this collective imagination, directly derived from the paintings of classical painters, projects a city built near the water, organised around the place of worship as a landmark visible in the distance (the bell tower of a church). This often represented and illustrated city, once surrounded by bulwarks, forms a boundary with the nourishing countryside and the surrounding wild forests (which at the time covered most of the European territory). This medieval fantasy town sleeping in us us has been transformed, sometimes even partially razed (like Haussmann's Paris) over the centuries. It has become a metropolis, with radically changed data and needs. This metropolis continues to develop concentrically around its historic centre, with a strategy of "nibbling" the territory that is defined in contemporary urban planning language as urban sprawl. The dominant urban nucleus has progressively absorbed into its space the minor urban nuclei located nearby, to form a single centralised unit. With the advent of the industrial age and the subsequent rural exodus, Europe has thus seen its cities grow dramatically and its agricultural and wilderness areas shrink. In a widespread policy of intensive agriculture, less land is needed to produce twice as much food for an agri-food industry that has become increasingly globalised. Today, in the post-industrial era, the private car remains the main means of transport. As a consequence of the above two facts - the possibility to move everywhere in the territory with one's car, coupled with the reduction of agricultural land due to the globalisation of the agri-food industry - formerly agricultural land on the outskirts of cities continues to be reclassified as building land in order to be transformed into suburban housing, commercial areas or industrial sectors. After their reclassification, many of these lands are left undeveloped for years and, because they are not built on, they artificialize previously agricultural land on the outskirts of the cities. In this territorial conception, which persists, it is the whole of the non-urban space that is considered vacant and buildable. In this peripheral context, the urban, i.e. the ever-increasing need for housing in the metropolis and the tertiary sector seeking to expand near the cities, supplants agricultural activity, its territories and natural areas. This is done in order to accommodate at the city's border a part of the population wishing to move away from its overly dense centre, or forced to live on the outskirts of the metropolis, since it is the one that concentrates the majority of services, infrastructures, and the social and economic life of the system in which we currently live.

By exploring the phenomenon of the suburban city, which has developed itself increasingly over the last century, and is spreading ever further, horizontally, over abandoned territories or agricultural land that has been invested or made suitable for construction, the question of our living spaces is raised: towards which horizon are we looking? Which landscapes are emerging at the edges of our cities? How do the inhabitants of these peripheral spaces feel about their daily lives? Above all, these are life stories, stories of love or lovelessness towards a place that have been created there: what do these territories tell us about where new lives have been built in so-called peripheral spaces over the last few decades?

In Journal du Dehors [Exteriors], the writer Annie Ernaux describes the daily life, the moments of life of strangers between Paris and Cergy, the town built on the outskirts of the capital where she settled in the 1970s: "Arriving in a place that came out of nothing in a few years, deprived of all memory, with buildings scattered over an immense territory, with uncertain limits, was an overwhelming experience. (...) I liked living there, in a cosmopolitan place, in the midst of existences begun elsewhere (...) - that modernity of which a new city gives the acute feeling without being able to define it - through a collection of snapshots of collective daily life.[4]"

Repensar la Periferia [Rethinking the Periphery]

Our project Repensar la Periferia is set in the urban context of Pamplona, capital of the autonomous community of Navarra, Spain. The phenomenon of urban sprawl is a phenomenon that has an EU-wide influence but we may suggest that it a special dimension in the urban area of Pamplona. Its emergence here is exemplary, due to its history and relatively recent development. The metropolis of Pamplona emerges as a model on a human scale - a reduced model compared to other historically compact and concentrically organised metropolis such as Paris. The scale and socio-historical context of Pamplona allow a particularly clear analysis and understanding of the peripheral territory in all its forms, which unfold here on a condensed territory next to each other. Pamplona is therefore, by virtue of its size and the history of its development, ideal for questioning, observing and proposing means of action for the periphery.

Located on the edge of the Pyrenees, Pamplona has been a strategic point between France and Spain for centuries, controlling the crossings to Aragon and La Rioja. This situation made it a fortress city until late in its history: its walls and citadel contained an ever-growing population until the early 20th century. Within the city, the old town is compact, built on the heights, surrounded by its historical walls, which have been preserved to this day, as well as the old citadel (a real military fortress) converted into a city park. It was not until 1915 that the city was finally allowed to expand outside its walls, with the construction of the 2nd Ensanche, which can be considered the first large suburban district of Pamplona, although it is now considered part of the city centre. This late growth of the city makes it possible to clearly identify its outskirts. The city of Pamplona literally grew out of the ground during the 20th century, and new districts of collective housing continue to emerge, following parcel-based urban plans designed on former agricultural or vegetable land. Decade after decade, homogeneous neighbourhoods are formed, marked by the style of their time, on a predetermined portion of the territory. Today, Pamplona's Cuenca (urban area) includes the surrounding villages and former rural areas, which have been gradually colonised by residential and industrial satellites.

Over the last three years, three emblematic places in the urban area of Pamplona have been explored by our project Repensar la Periferia: the municipality of Huarte, the Grupo Urdánoz in the Etxabakoitz district, and the new district under construction in Soto Lezkairu. Each of these three areas reveals a different facet of the urban environment, positioned at its border.

Huarte – the agricultural periphery

The starting point for Repensar la Periferia has been a three-month collaborative architectural residency organised during 2017 as part of the European CAPP (Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme), and supported by the Madrid-based association Hablar en Arte at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Huarte. The project's actors - we, the architecture collectives Enter This from Berlin + Orekari Estudio from Pamplona, shared a common vision from the start: to involve the local population as much as possible, and to propose a resolutely contextual mode of action.

The aim of this initial residency, entitled Repensar el Contenedor [Rethinking the Container], was to propose a collaborative project to change the perception that the inhabitants of Huarte have of their contemporary art centre. This building with its black and opaque façade, disproportionate to its surroundings, stands at the entrance to the small town of Huarte. Built in 2007, the contemporary art centre for the whole of Navarre has been deliberately positioned away from the centre of Pamplona, its capital, in a spirit of cultural decentralisation. However, for the inhabitants of Huarte, the "black cube", as they call it, is above all a pure product of the real estate bubble of the early 2000s, and symbolises the years of crisis that followed its explosion. Moreover, more than a decade after its construction, they are still paying for the consequences of the political and entrepreneurial speculation that led to the city's indebtedness. This building is symbolic of the 2008 real estate crisis that ravaged Spain and highlights a phenomenon that is plaguing the periphery in the broadest sense: rampant construction, with entire neighbourhoods being built, financed by private developers and sold at great expense, when it is not the taxpayer who is financing political decisions that have resulted in spectacular buildings with astronomical costs. The municipality of Huarte, named Uharte in Basque - which means "island", is surrounded by the river Arga. What was once a small, picturesque village on the route to Santiago de Compostela, of which a few old houses, the church and a small chapel remain today, has undergone rapid urban and demographic development over the last fifteen years, concreting the entire village into a space restricted by the water's edge. In the past few years, a large number of collective dwellings appeared, with sealed ground floors highlighting the lack of shops and services. Taking advantage of the enthusiasm of the property bubble, the municipality of the village also invested by then in large-scale projects in the hope, above all, of drawing In a few years, the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Huarte (Contemporary Art Centre of Huarte), the Foro Europeo (a conference centre that is now abandoned) and the Iturama shopping centre were built around the residential housing units. Thus, in the centre of this "triangle" of three buildings conceived with gigantic proportions, designed by contemporary architects, is set the village of Huarte, which in 2001 had just over 3,000 inhabitants and now, after the real estate operation, has almost 10,000 inhabitants.

The fact of living directly in situ during the residency, coming from a foreign context, and without being able to exchange, at the beginning, in either of the two official languages of the region, allowed on the one hand to immerse oneself totally in the context, to focus on one's own feelings, providing a sensitive approach to the territory. At the same time, we started a series of contacts with artists, members of local institutions, and inhabitants of Huarte, in order to trace their own long-term experience, and more particularly in the context of our project, their history of disenchantment with the Centro Huarte. The architects of the art centre, far away from the village, were also interviewed in Barcelona [5], so that they too could share their vision of the project, which could set us on a path of transformation. Local associations - regional dance, theatre, the youth centre - also opened their doors. It was during exchanges with the inhabitants at the Aperitifak event organised with Orekari Estudio, and drifts on the ground lost in the meanders of the vegetable gardens that the figure of the Huerta [greenhouse] gradually imposed itself, transparent, open and representative of local pride in opposition to the art centre building. The two Tótems were co-designed in the village square and built in the car park of the art centre during the last month of the Repensar el Contenedor residency. These elements, now used by the contemporary art centre and its artists, are mobile structures that allow cultural activities to be organised outside its walls, in view of the fact that it was impossible to create a lasting interest in the building itself among the local population and to link this architecture to the territory. Thus the idea was to dematerialise the place, to make it exist in a different way by creating symbolic artefacts - the Tótems - whose metal framework ensures their durability, whose OSB wood furniture gives them a warm aspect, and whose transparent polycarbonate envelope and the plants on the roof refer to the huertas so much appreciated by the inhabitants as a symbol of their identity.

We fumbled our way through this first stage of Repensar la Periferia, accepting that the collaborative process makes the project a living, fluid and unpredictable matter. As much as we have learned as architects to conceptualise a project while taking into account the technical and economic constraints, the participatory aspect requires letting go, a flexible and open methodology. For example, we organised a meeting without a single inhabitant at the art centre... then we bounced back from this trial and error and decided to move to the village square ourselves to meet its inhabitants.

During this first experience in Pamplona, we embraced the urban dimension of the city in a particularly intense way over a short period of time, living in three different parts of the city during the three first months: the previously described Huarte district, the historic centre dating from the medieval period, and the Iturrama district built in the 1970s.

On the outskirts of Huarte is its industrial area to be found, and a little further south the new district of Erripagaña, which is still under frenetic construction. From our wanderings through these still completely empty spaces, we have retained a stylised sunshade placed on a vacant lot, with a few buildings around it and the tarmac road interrupting at the end of the plot on a small pathway.

Based on this fascination for the outskirts of Pamplona, we developed the Repensar la Periferia project [6], which has been conceived on the scale of the city, then on the scale of the region, in order to extend it – why not – to an European scale.

Etxabakoitz – the urban periphery

This is how Repensar la Periferia came to be established, initially for a few months, from autumn 2018, in the Etxabakoitz district. The area was mainly agricultural land, on which factories were gradually built, until it became officially part of the city of Pamplona in 1958. The following year, the Grupo Urdánoz was built in the heart of Etxabakoitz, a group of H-shaped houses which, from the 1960s onwards, significantly densified the previously sparsely populated area. These new dwellings, built away from the existing city, were meant to house the workers of the factories that had been established on this lowland in the southwest of Pamplona.

The history and context of each suburb is fundamental because they highlight the cultural and social problems of these territories, which were formed from scratch, and their remoteness, not only geographical, but also mental. In the case of Etxabakoitz, and in particular the Grupo Urdánoz, the feeling of isolation from the rest of the city is palpable and the psychological barrier is present. The Grupo Urdánoz was built in a topographical hollow, with the monumental architectures of the adjacent factories as a horizon, themselves echoing the mountains of the Pyrenees range which provide a spectacular backdrop to the outskirts of Pamplona. These industries - fodder, food and chemical factories for the agricultural sector - are now mostly abandoned and are gradually being overgrown.

At weekends, the inhabitants walk up the thin stream of the Elortz River that runs alongside the cluster of buildings. When we began our process in the neighbourhood in early autumn, a whole population was scattered among the fig tree foliage to pick the ripe fruits. It is here, at the edge of these narrow concrete buildings whose facades bear witness to the weight of the years and the speed of their construction, that one realises that this neighbourhood was born sixty years ago in the middle of mainly agricultural and horticultural land. The population that came to occupy these dwellings and serve as labourers in the neighbouring factories was, moreover, mostly from the south of Spain, themselves coming from a rural environment and seeking to escape poverty through this exodus. Today, many of their children have remained, and the district is also represented by a proudly established gypsy community.

Etxabakoitz is in possession of a great treasure: it is the district with the greatest cultural diversity in Pamplona - with the presence of over 65 different nationalities [7]. However, due to its history and the low cost of its real estate, this district suffers from a strong prejudice towards the rest of the city: for many inhabitants of the centre or even of the more affluent neighbourhoods of Barañain or Iturrama, it represents the end of the world, or even a worrying place. This perception directly undermines the architecture of Grupo Urdánoz and its identical, repeated buildings with narrow streets. One can also imagine that when they were still in full operation, the adjacent factories, with their noise, their smell, probably did not add anything positive to this picture. This is why most people in the rest of Pamplona never went there. The second reason is that there is simply no reason for them to do so, as there are few activities and services for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood itself. This is where Repensar la Periferia is anchored in a major objective: we not only try to stimulate a collaborative and creative approach of the peripheral public space, but we also desire to create a back-and-forth movement with the territory as a whole, and its actors and inhabitants. Here, in Etxabakoitz, the relationship with the outside world is tense, as its inhabitants and associations suffer from a lack of consideration that they define as "institutionalised abandonment"[8].

The aim of Repensar la Periferia in Etxabakoitz was to create a dreamlike space different from the existing modernist architecture, and to bring in cultural events representative of the diversity of its inhabitants, ideally created with them. To this end, we imagined a Bubble, a utopian space par excellence and one that has been used many times in architecture since the 1960s by Buckminster Fuller and Hans-Walter Müller - also echoing in the local context the 1972 Pamplona Encounters and the architecture created for the occasion by architect José Miguel de Prada Poole [9].

Despite the difficulties encountered during the design phase (difficulty in forming a group of interested people due to the short time available for analysis and contact on site, and bad weather forcing us to build the Bubble in a covered space provided by the local association Etxabakoitz Bizirik), we were able to organise a series of participative street workshops and finalise this architecture, which was unanimously approved by its inhabitants on the day of its inauguration. With the artists invited to activate the space on a collaborative mode - including the artist Iosu Zapata and his "flamenco jam" organised with musicians from the neighbourhood, who came to create a space of expression and pride for the men, women and children who came to sing and play in the Bubble - we sought to amplify the cultural potential of Grupo Urdánoz. Due to the limited resources of the Repensar la Periferia programme in Etxabakoitz, it was impossible for us to extend our presence there and we have not yet been able to sustain the action we have begun.

Repensar la Periferia seeks to make visible through a participatory and collaborative process, using culture - in this case architecture and contemporary art - peripheral spaces that have been ignored or neglected over time, as in the case of Grupo Urdánoz in Etxabakoitz. With this process and the visibility given to these marginal spaces, specific problematics can be re-evaluated by urban planners, the municipality and public authority decision-makers. In this sense, the collaborative architecture project in the periphery, developed over a short period of time, with few resources and proposing direct action, can potentially serve as a megaphone to revalue the invested public spaces and the outskirts.

Soto Lezkairu – the periphery under construction

After Etxabakoitz and Huarte, we proposed to implement our participatory and creative methodology in a new type of periphery: following our action in the urbanised village of Huarte, and then the Grupo Urdánoz blocks of flats in Etxabakoitz, we headed for the neighbourhood under construction in Soto Lezkairu in September 2019. There, the urban space looks pretty much like the Erripagaña neighbourhood mentioned above: since 2013, cranes have been tirelessly lifting and depositing construction materials in the heights, and the construction dust is omnipresent in the neighbourhood - little by little, buildings and street furniture appear, as if lost because entire sections of the new neighbourhood are still missing. The urban plan foresees the construction of 6,000 new homes in the long term. The unoccupied plots of land with tall grass and billboards (advertising the merits of the new houses for sale next to them) seemed to us the ideal plots to invest with an ephemeral architecture.

We imagined light structures that would be placed on these still vacant lots. The PVC tubes used to make the structure are made from materials used in construction, as an echo of the surrounding building sites. The tubular structure is covered with triangular pieces fixed with tensors, created from gold and metallic survival blankets. This shiny surface, as well as the polyhedral shape given to the three, four-metre high self-built architectures - the Polyhedrons - plays with the contemporary, ultra-modern side of Soto Lezkairu's new buildings.

The brand-new urban grid of plots designed for the Soto Lezkairu district wipes out a "bucolic landscape [10]" composed of small agricultural plots and wooded meadows. Only two compact buildings built in the 1950s and a convent dating from 1902 still bear witness to the history of the area. The two dilapidated dwellings on the Soto hill have been given an insulating facade and their double-sloped roofs have been planed to resemble the new neighbouring blocks. In addition to the uniformity of the buildings and the contemporary appearance of the neighbourhood, there is also the uniformity of the population - the majority of the first-time buyers of the new homes are people in their thirties, most of whom have realised their desire to start a family at the same time as buying a flat. The streets of Soto Lezkairu under construction are filled with adults of the same age group, accompanied by young children. From the very beginning of the Repensar la Periferia process in Soto Lezkairu, we contacted the Asociación Cultural Lezkairu, created in 2017 by three young residents of the neighbourhood, with the aim of "creating links" and preventing the neighbourhood from becoming a dormitory town.

The logistical support and emotional involvement of this association in our process (coupled probably also with our more seasoned experience in the field, and a simpler architectural realisation than the two previous ones) gave impetus to a more extensive cultural programme. We invited the textile artist Sandra Arróniz to create a textile workshop using the remains of the construction of the Poliedros, and also an exceptional contemporary dancer and choreographer, Galina Rodríguez, to create a travelling performance, barefoot in the December snow, in the middle of the pandemic. At the end of this performance, we stand on the border of another historically working-class neighbourhood, the Milagrosa, separated from Soto Lezkairu by a huge field, a gap into the wide horizon.

Zizur Mayor – the fragmented periphery

The fourth place for our Repensar la Periferia (Rethinking the Periphery) project is Zizur Mayor, a place divided by the A2 highway in three very contrasted parts of peripherality: the old pueblo, the Urbanización from the 1960's-1980's, and the new neighbourhood of Ardoi which came out from the ground from 2013.

The innovation of this new edition of Repensar has been an open call that we launched previously to the on-site actions, in the framework of the program Buzón Abierto from the Centro Huarte, in order to involve the selected artists from the very beginning of the process. Four artists/collectives were selected during a Pecha Kucha Night event: the artist and activist Erik Harley, the artists and artisans Itsaso Jiménez and Cristian Soto with their Compañia de Oficios, the musical project PressPlay, and the photographers collective Punto de Catástrofe.

As an introduction, we lead an exhaustive investigation on the territory of this fragmented municipality, using the wandering and the photography as a dialogue tool with local actors. Erik Harley applied the methodology from his project Preferiría Periferia to share corruption cases of his so-called national architectural movement called “el pormishuevismo” (using the Spanish expression "por mis huevos" literally "for my balls", thus signifying the selfishness and greed of many elected officials and architects, partly disfiguring the architectural landscape of the Peninsula, a phenomenon which unfortunately can surely be applied to other regions of Europe and the world). During this first collective urban walk, the inhabitants and external visitors also shared old histories and their experience of the place, in a successful back and forth movement between the periphery and its surroundings, which remains one of the main objectives of our Repensar long-term process.

Then, Compañia de Oficios performed two workshops where urban symbols and emblematic images were reinterpreted, engraved and stamped on totebags, following a popular initiative we already applied during our activations in Huarte, Etxabakoitz and Soto Lezkairu.

The next step and most important objective of the process was the collaborative design and participative self-construction of the ephemeral architectures for the fragmented public space of Zizur Mayor. Regarding the urban problems that needed to be confronted, three giant connector screens have been designed during the collective design sessions with our pilot group (composed by the involved artists collectives, inhabitants and local actors), as well as a connecting trailer which intended to serve as a support for the events and workshops that were to be carried out by the invited artists.

The three giant connector screens – the Conectadores – were placed in three strategic points of the municipality (in Ardoi, on the Plaza de la Mujer; in the Pueblo, on the Plaza de los Fueros de Navarra, in the Urbanización, in front of the Casa de Cultura). These displays have been conceived and realized collectively, in collaboration with the local ProtoMakers association - following the do-it-yourself philosophy, using ping pong balls to spread the LEDs illumination system. The screens are framed in a monumental, almost monolithic, self-built structure made of OSB wood that adds functionality to the display. The wooden elements are covered by a mirror skin (recuperated in an alternative cultural venue of the periphery where Orekari Estudio has been actively involved and working during a few years – Jazar) reflecting the urban, constrasted landscape into the ephemeral public architecture. Each of the three architectures expresses a special characteristic of the neighbourhood where it is to be found by the shape of its ‘roof’: the post-modernist, almost brutalist and very symmetric architecture of the Urbanización, the traditional and vernacular character of the pueblo, and the ultramodern and out of scale neighbourhood of Ardoi.

Through a web interface specially designed for the intervention by the graphic designer Diego Sintas who joined the motor group during the collaborative design phase, in collaboration with the ProtoMakers, everyone could connect her/himself to the giant screens exhibited in the public space, and express thoughts, messages or drawings – taking the control for a short time of these collective and ephemeral creative boards, and virtually erasing the borders between the three peripheric, fragmented places.

The connecting trailer – the Carrito Conector – is a mobile bicycle carrier. The mobile item intends to serve as a support for the events and workshops carried out by the invited artists. Once on site, it opens up to form a table, revealing a music box which mixes samples using wooden discs that are moved on its surface - la Caja Musical, created by the collective Pressplay + Loops who also contributed to the process with two workshops. The vertical back part can also be removed and placed on the ground in order to form an exhibition panel on the one side, and a mirror on the other side. The metal structure on wheels supports the wooden elements realized in birch plywood. The front chimney serves as a storage for vertical elements used for the different workshops when mobile – a round pine stick holds a white sail that evokes a “char à voile” (French land sailing mobile construction) that serves as a summer shade when fixed. Conceived in this way, the Carrito Conector moves easily, disregarding the aggressive road infrastructure of Zizur Mayor, through the windy space of these outskirts.

After the intense self-construction phase, we proceeded to the cultural activation, following a proven methodology at the core of our Repensar la Periferia process. The inauguration of the three structures positioned in three different parts of the city took place in the form of a Bicimartxa – a collective bicycle ride lead by the local artists Elsa Kbless & El Txino, using the Carrito Conector – the mobile bicycle carrier, as an emblematic element of the Repensar action. The inauguration ended with a magical sunset reggae-hip hop concert given by the singer Elsa Kbless with the musician and performer El Txino on the main square of the Urbanización, illuminated by the Conectador we placed there.

The following cultural events were musical and pedagogic – destinated to Zizur’s children – with the Divercity workshops organised by Espacio Redo and their project Pressplay Music, in collaboration with the Barcelona-based illustrator Pabs, and the collective Loops – creator of the Caja Musical, the interactive music box we placed in our Carrito Conector.

From the very beginning of the process in Zizur Mayor, the photographers collective Punto de Catástrofe – which already had a strong experience of the territory as some of its seven members live and work here – proposed to launch a participative photography call via the social networks, in order to collect as many different point of views of the peripheral landscape as possible. This initiative #postales31180 also took place physically on the Plaza de la Mujer in Ardoi, using the one Conectador this time as an exhibition item. During the event, more than hundred collected pictures sent by inhabitants to the collective were printed on postcards and sent to the Museo della Periferia in Rome.

As a conclusion of this very intense and multidisciplinary interventions on three very contrasted public spaces of Zizur Mayor, we invited four more artists who activated / interacted with the LED screens of the three Conectadores during the late and warm pre-summer evenings: the dance company Fuera del Eje, the visual artist Ricardo Laspidea, the dancehall choreographer and dancer Sara Zuñiga, as well as the poet and musician Soyuz.

Despite all the organisational difficulties encountered during the process, due to the bigger challenge and scale we gave to our project for this edition of Repensar la Periferia, we can say that we reached the main objectives of our peripheral activist process:

- Mediate the access to local culture and problematize peripherical situations, in a sustainable way and with a long-term vision, through the intervention on the public space and architecture as an open and participative tool.

- Link architecture and art with the social and the urban, by taking art to the street space, by bringing it closer to all kinds of audiences and making it accessible to everyone (children, seniors, people without resources...) through ephemeral, mobile and interactive architectural elements.


With Repensar la Periferia, we have travelled and will continue to travel through a multitude of histories and contexts, moments of urban planning that have shaped lives. Above all, it is a question of making the peripheral dimension of the city visible: according to it broader definition, the city is often made visible and told through its centre, which is the emblem, while thousands of people, in Pamplona and elsewhere, live and experience a completely different space on a daily basis. Do we have to identify ourselves with the Eiffel Tower and the Haussmann façades of the central districts if we live in Paris? Do you have to illustrate 'your' city with the Plaza de Toros and the cobbled streets of the Casco Antiguo if you live in Pamplona? My daily space, as an inhabitant of the periphery, is different, less homogeneous, and I claim it.

By making the periphery visible through a process of reflection as well as architectural and cultural action, we invite people to rethink the periphery, in other words, to put on different glasses - and try to start a mindset change regarding the suburban space. We did not achieve this goal in the few, too short, months that we were able to spend in each place, due to the economic and material constraints of the process. Nevertheless, we hope that our work, which is still ongoing in other parts of Pamplona, will be a milestone in changing the perception that a peripheral inhabitant may have of his or her place of life (my neighbourhood is as rich and contrasted as the city centre) by sublimating the spaces of his or her daily life. This could be facilitated by a long-term cultural commitment achieved on site by the institutions. On the other hand, we can put forward the hypothesis that this participative and collaborative mode of action, acting over a short period of time (due to its financing and operating methods) would be likely, by multiplying, to influence future urban planning decisions which would be inspired by our investigation and our exchanges in the field, towards a more inclusive and respectful conception of these existing, and very much alive, spaces (even though they are often defined as dormitory towns) of the city.

What is most disconcerting, at first, about living in the outskirts, in these neighbourhoods designed on a previously flattened space, is the sky that opens up to you. This "continual impression of floating between heaven and earth", as Annie Ernaux so aptly claims[11], makes you feel dizzy. In the city centre, the horizon is blocked by buildings – but if you drive around the outskirts, the horizon seems both huge and very close. While you remain in this periphery, you can now ask yourself what new models can be explored, what is the living urban material that will show a possible future for the city. In this sense, our project is led to invest other horizons, to approach, in the era of climate change, the peripheral limit by reversing the anchor point: the villages, the rural life of Navarre. Rethinking another way of making the city. Towards the periphery and beyond.

[1] Paola Viganó, Projets de territoire: la ville poreuse et autres [Territory projects: the porous city and others], Lecture given on the 25th of February 2010 at the ENSA-Grenoble

[2] Ibid

[3] The concept of the diffuse city was formulated by Francesco Indovina and Bernardo Secchi, professors at the University Institute of Architecture of Venice (IUAV), in the 1990s - and developed by Paola Viganó and Bernardo Secchi in particular in their project for the Grand Paris: The Porous City: A Project for the Grand Paris and the Post-Kyoto Metropolis, MétisPresses, Nº1 2011

[4] Annie Ernaux, Journal du Dehors [Exteriors], pp. 7-8, Ed. Gallimard 1995

[5] The architects Xavier Vancells, Carles Puig and Franc Fernandez. Thanks to the architect Mar Esteve Guel for her facilitation and support - video available online on the website of the project Repensar la Periferia

[6] With the logistical and financial support of our partners, in particular the Centro Huarte, and the grants obtained in 2018, 2019 and 2020 from Innova Cultural, a regional programme founded by the Caja Navarra Foundation and the La Caixa Foundation

[7] Marivi Salvo Unai Beroz, Etxabakoitz, el barrio que se ve abandonado y con un futuro incierto (Etxabakoitz, the neighbourhood that sees itself abandoned and with an uncertain future), in Noticias de Navarra, 25 January 2017

[8] Ibid

[9] Los Encuentros de Pamplona (Pamplona Encounters) have been organised in 1972 in the public space, sponsored by a wealthy family of local industrialists who were involved in patronage. In the last years of Franco's regime, this international art event, which brought together more than 350 Spanish and foreign artists such as John Cage and Denis Openheim, was a breath of fresh air, giving long-term national resonance to artistic movements such as Situationism, Fluxus, video art and happening. During the Encounters, the public space was transformed into a laboratory for artistic action. The most emblematic element of these encounters remained the inflatable cupolas of the architect José Miguel de Prada Poole

[10] Joseba Asiron Saez, Convento de Las Blancas en Lezkairu, 1913 (The Convent of Las Blancas, 1913) in Adios Pamplona - Noticias de Navarra, 27 January 2020

[11] Annie Ernaux, Journal du Dehors [Exteriors], pp. 7-8, Ed. Gallimard 1995


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