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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.101 Santiago abr. 2019

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-69962019000100034 

Works & projects

Prison to Prison. Uruguayan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018

Sergio Aldama1 

Federico Colom2 

Diego Morera3 

Jimena Ríos4 

Mauricio Wood5 

1 Docente, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. saldama@fadu.edu.uy

2 Docente, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. edericocolom@gmail.com

3 Docente, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. diegomoreras@gmail.com

4 Docente, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. mariajimenarios@gmail.com

5 Arquitecto, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de la República, Uruguay. wood.mauricio@gmail.com

Abstract

If architecture is the knowledge necessary to build places in which humans live, the jail - a place in which human beings are forced to live without being able to leave - is architecture at its purest definition. The fact that the biggest building built in Uruguay in 2017 was a jail, and that this jail’s neighbor was another ‘freer’ jail, are the starting points for a project that questions and reflects on the convoluted relationships between architecture and freedom.

Keywords: freedom; building; critique; processes; design

Which montage between two images/elements could be imagined that would result in something different between and outside these two, which would not represent a compromise but would instead belong to a different order - roughly the way someone might tenaciously pound two dull stones together to create a spark in the dark? Whether this spark, which one could also call the spark of the political, can be created at all is a question of this articulation (Steyerl, 2016).

Source: © Fabián Sarubbi

Figure 1 New detention facility Unit Number 1 Prison of Punta de Rieles, next to the Unit Number 6 Prison of Punta Rieles, or ‘cárcel pueblo’ (village-like prison), Uruguay. 

‘Prison to Prison, an intimate story between two architectures’ was Uruguay’s official contribution to the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at the 2018 Venice Biennale. It is a project that explores the existence of an unprecedented ‘freespace’ in a place where it is least expected and and which is closely related to its larger opposite.

Source: © Fabián Sarubbi

Figure 2 New detention facility Unit Number 1 Prison of Punta de Rieles, next to the Unit Number 6 Prison of Punta Rieles, or ‘cárcel pueblo’ (village-like prison), Uruguay. 

Although it may seem hard to believe, the largest building erected in Uruguay in 2017 was a prison. In one of the most consolidated and renowned democracies in Latin America, such a symbolic fact - almost unnoticed - surprises, but also speaks about our collective fears and desires, as well as of the scope and limitations of our discipline.

The building discussed is the new detention facility called Unit Number 1 Prison in Punta de Rieles, with an area of 18 hectares, space for 1,960 inmates and a budget of nearly 100 million dollars. It became the second prison in the country in terms of capacity and, in addition, it constitutes the first Uruguayan public-private partnership financing experience regarding prisons.

Source: © Prison by Prison

Figure 3 Two prisons project at Punta de Rieles, Uruguay. 

However, not everything is bad news. Ironically, the new detention center has been built contiguous (sharing a party wall!) to the existing Unit Number 6 Prison of Punta de Rieles, known as the ‘cárcel pueblo’ (village-like prison). This, constitutes a unique experience for both our country and the continent, as the prison - with 600 inmates - is understood as a vivid, vibrant town that imitates urban logic, forming an unprecedented ‘freespace’ of collective negotiations and projects in a place where it is least expected: the Uruguayan prison system.

Since the inauguration of the new center in 2018, two jails - surprisingly designed during the same government period, but opposed in their views on punishment, seclusion, surveillance, technology, displacements, space and, above all, humanity - coexist in the same plot in the outskirts of Montevideo, in an almost schizoid way. The outcome: an actual over-30- hectares gigantic architectural oxymoron.

Even more fascinating when trying to understand the meaning of this oxymoron as architects is the fact that Uruguayan architects designed neither of these prisons. The new one echoes the formula of an abstract foreign model, implemented following the guidelines of the private company that built it, while the ‘cárcel pueblo’ has built itself based on both pre-existing constructions and other carried out by inmates themselves, regardless of any disciplinary or academic interest.

Source: © Antoine Reboul

Figure 4 Uruguayan Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia 2018. 

Faced with this irony and in the context of the 2018 Biennale edition, it is relevant to ask ourselves: is there a more architectural program than a prison? A place where sleeping, eating, walking, talking, sharing, thinking and looking are actions defined by the architectural framework where they take place. Also, can we inquire about the architectural notion of ‘freespace’ in a site that may be its main opposite? The answer is ‘Prison to Prison.’

Source: © Antoine Reboul

Figure 5 Uruguayan Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia 2018. 

Source: © Antoine Reboul

Figure 6 Uruguayan Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia 2018. 

Then, like primitive men, forced to carefully analyze what surrounded them to decide cautiously how to act, as survival depended on that, we will be able to hold with strength these two large stones made of concrete and brick and pound them violently so as to - in that moment, by that forced collision of opposites - detonate, as in Hito Steyerl’s quote opening this this text, the spark of the political.

Source: © Antoine Reboul

Figure 7 Uruguayan Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia 2018. 

Thus, ‘Prison to Prison, an intimate story between two architectures’ explores the juxtaposition of these two different realities to establish dialogues that exceed the object study. It is then an excuse to reconnect with architecture and its generous, necessary cultural

dimension enabling unexpected empowerments.

Source: © Antoine Reboul

Figura 8 Uruguayan Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia 2018. 

Source: © Antoine Reboul

Figura 9 Uruguayan Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia 2018. 

Prison to Prison

An intimate story between two architectures

Commissioner: Alejandro Denes, Ministerio de Educación y Cultura, República Oriental del Uruguay

Curators: Sergio Aldama, Federico Colom, Diego Morera, Jimena Ríos, Mauricio Wood

Collaborators: Angélica Lazarimos

Contributors: Natalia Agati, Ethel Baraona, Ángel Borrego, Luis Camnitzer, Marcelo Danza, Olimpia Fiorentino, Andrés Jaque, Natalia Laino, Matices Culturales, Hélio Meneses, Serena Olcuire, Luis Parodi, Francesco Perrotta-Bosch, Juan Miguel Petit, Daniel Zubillaga Puchot, Rodrigo Rey, Angelina de los Santos, Martín Amande, Harun Farocki, Agustín Fernández, Regina José Galindo, Conor McGrady, Antoni Muntadas, Matías Nin, Berna Reale, Stanford Prison Experiment

Experience design: Head Brothers (Juan Pablo Colasso, Marco Colasso)

Experience content: Matices Culturales, Fabián Sarubbi, Marco Colasso, Juan Pablo Colasso

Design assistance: Bruno Baietto

Editorial design: Carolina Ocampo, Sofía Ganduglia

Poster design: Sebastián Lambert

Fieldwork assistance: Cecilia Lombardo, Cecilia Alamón, Bernardo Martín, Natalia Laino

Budget: USD 20.000

Source: © Antoine Reboul

Figure 10 Uruguayan Pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia 2018. 

Referencias

STEYERL, Hito. «The Articulation of Protest». En: Beyond Representation. Essays 1999-2009. Berlín: N.B.K., 2016. [ Links ]

* Sergio Aldama Studio professor at FADU, UDELAR. Coordinates and produces projects that work with architecture and domains that transcend it. Co-founder of cau studio, a platform that works with architecture, urban planning and collaborative projects.

** Federico Colom Architect, FADU, UDELAR, 2016. Studio professor at FADU, UDELAR. Co-founder of CAU studio.

*** Diego Morera Architect, FADU, UDELAR, 2017. Urban planning professor at FADU, UDELAR. Member of mapa studio, works with videos, digital images and the city.

**** Jimena Ríos Theater designer, Multidisciplinary School of Dramatic Art Margarita Xirgu, 2011. Museologist, Faculty of Humanities and Education Science, 2018. Professor at fadu, udelar. Works with performance, political art and feminism.

***** Mauricio Wood Architect, FADU, UDELAR, 2017. Postgraduate studies in urban mobility, Escola da Cidade - Arquitetura e Urbanismo, São Paulo, Brazil. Works with the city, public space and the political.

Creative Commons License Este es un artículo publicado en acceso abierto bajo una licencia Creative Commons