Do you remember the days, as a child, when the only thing you had to worry about was playing and having fun? Looking back, in retrospect, it can seem like time has stolen our hopes, dreams and memories. If we are not careful, time can erode our primigenial personalities and make us lose sense of why we do things or think in a certain way. It is very easy to get carried away with the flow of life and forget who we really are.
When I was young, I used to imagine I could see animals in the stuccoed walls, quite recognisable forms in clouds, and routine objects with a face and a smile everywhere. I also used to invent conversations between Playmobil characters (usually between the animals as well). Very often I used to picture how my room could be in different places, in or out of my house: in a wardrobe, in the roof, in the garden, in the tree, under the house, in a bathroom…etc.
At our recent retreat to Uluru, we were made to understand that the Australian Indigenous culture believes in stories, such as Kunia the snake, whereby they see symbols materialised as rocks and other sacred elements.
Nowadays, although I try to keep the imaginative part of my mind alive, sometimes it feels like life goes very fast and we need to remember to stop and catch ourselves again.
For example, how many times, when on the way to school or traveling for holidays, looking through the window of the car, have I passed under a bridge?
I have been always astonished by their structure and powerful shape and wonder why they are treated as residual space.
Think about how many holes, gaps, curves, hiding corners, slopes, slides, elevated platforms, columns, nooks, caves, recesses and wires there are. Spaces which give us millions of inspirational possibilities, even more as architects, and especially in these times where architecture is still mostly focussed on new construction. In fact, projects which somehow recover a forgotten part of the city usually are the most accepted by its residents and have the greatest engagement with local communities.
Recently, I read an article about someone who has built one my childhood dreams, probably the same dream of many children: A little hidden refuge out of nowhere, under a bridge of which no one knows about.
The Spanish designer and self-taught craftsman, Fernando Abellanas, has built a piece of parasitic architecture hanging under a bridge in Valencia.
Abellanas says he wasn’t looking for “a feeling of total silence or peace, but rather that sensation you get as a kid of being able to sit and peek at what’s happening around you without being seen – be it in a cabin or a cardboard box in your own house”.
He likes to explore the city, and collect secret places located on a ‘personal map’. Sometimes, as happened with the studio under the bridge, he builds something to visit frequently. Unfortunately, he assures that this little house life is limited, “until someone finds it”.
While rents in Spain have grown by 20.9% in the first quarter in 2017 (according to the real estate portal ‘Idealista’), Abellanas is unconsciously giving us a debate for alternative homes and innocent thinking, thanks to his fluid creativity.
It will probably be an ephemeral artistic intervention, but in the meantime, it feeds our hope about freedom and future. He inspires me to stop and listen to what my inner voice is saying to me and I hope it inspires you as well.
Abellanas develops his designs through his brand Lebrel. You can see more about his work in his Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/lebrelfurniture/.
Do you have an idea resounding in the back of your brain? Bring it to the foreground and make it real. Let your inner child come back again!