Urtzi Grau (Bilbao, Spain) is an architect and educator who graduated from the School of Architecture of Barcelona in 2000, was awarded Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design by the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation of Columbia University in 2004, and is currently completing his Ph.D. at Princeton University School of Architecture on the 1970’s Barcelona urban renewal.
He is co-founder of Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, a conglomerate orchestrated in collaboration Cristina Goberna from their headquarters in New York and Barcelona. The world is full of architecture - they claim -, more or less interesting; we do not wish to add any more. The last four hundred years of architectural excess produced enough undiscovered public architectural knowledge to nurture, at least, our practice; the last twenty, a hangover of creative-shapes-on-steroids we are trying to recover from. F**k originality. Rather, copies allow us to explore all the potential left unexplored by other’s rush. Knowledge can be public, yet undiscovered, if independently created fragments are logically related but never retrieved, brought together, or re-conceptualized. And that is what we do. Don’t ask us for new stuff, we copy." Most recently, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism has been awarded at the Architectural League of New York Young Architects Forum and the international competition Europan and also has been featured at the exhibitionsArchitecture Live! at SUPERFRONT LA and What can you do with the City: Actions!at the Center for Canadian Architecture.
Urtzi Grau has taught and lectured at SOA Princeton University School of Architecture, GSAPP Columbia University, the AAP Cornell University, the Architecture School of the Chile University and the School of Architecture of Barcelona. His work and writings have been widely published in international journals as 306090, Architect’s Newspaper, Domus, Evolo, the New York Times, Pasajes de Arquitectura y Critica, Pidgin, UHF, Volume, Via Arquitectura and Visions. Currently, he coordinates the Princeton Envelope Group – a research group headed by the professor Alejandro Zaera-Polo whose purpose is the production of a unitary theory of the envelope – and teaches Third Year Studio at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.
Projects & Links
Circuit! was a fashion catwalk that rather than enter the precinct of the Barcelona Fashion week -- albeit it was one of the partners of the event -- became a distributed festival that took over the streets of Barcelona.
I love japan
Fifteen industrial fans inflating a pret-a-potter collection, one hundred square meters of digital wallpaper displaying western cliches regarding Japan, a minimal-industrial-post-noise dj and its video counterpart jamming live in seven coordinated projectors and the equal number of speakers, three hundred hipsters eager to find his picture in AB or Neomoda's next week edition. All together in a one hundred fifty square meters room by a post-modern Barcelonan architect that never came out of the closet of critical regionalism. And still the commission seemed suspiciously clear from the very beginning; A fashion show with neither models nor catwalk to present a collection that had in Japan its alibi. How far we moved from the original intention is still a question; the conversations with the client were initially haunted by empty and floating signifiers, Empires of Signs and other semiotic anxieties. Today what seems definitely clear is that the materials we used differed from those regular of our construction sites. Not only because they require sexier technologies but because we got rid of almost anything that was not event or happening. Temporary, fast, atmospheric, incontrollable, the mechanisms invented for I love Japan included in its constitutive genome masses of cool-hunters, white-noises and epileptic flashes, the erotic aromas of glamorous fashion; i.e. high architectural intensities and shrinking space for design decisions.
In collaboration with Ema Dunner, Jorge Meneses, Ana Otero and Ana Xambo.
Lisa and Leo's Domestic Museum
The loss of real estate value implicit in the housing foreclosure crisis has sped up the possible extinction of the suburbs. The fragile images of everyday-life that kept suburbia in place have not resisted last ten years reversed White Flight. In Levittown, houses, home-owners and business remain surprisingly unchanged, unaware of their status of endanger species. By converting their home into a museum, the homeowners can preserve a way of life that is threatened, subsidized by entrance fees paid by the public. Please, visit Lisa & Leo's Domestic Museum to gain appreciation for the suburban promise of a good life.
Lisa and Leo's Domestic Museum (aka the Sound of Silver) opened during few hours Saturday May 23rd, 2011 in Forest City, NY, as part of Open house by Droog in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro; a movement in which suburban homeowners supplement their income and develop a new vocation by offering home-made services and facilities to the public.
Master Plan for Aldea Moret Old Mining Village
Aldea Moret Old Mining Village, a partially abandon 100,000m2 company town around Caceres' planned Node of Innovation, is located to the South of the city's historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The objective of this masterplanning – inspired by the recuperation of the Rivera del Marco – is to establish Caceres as a leading European city of Creativity and innovation. We believe this transformation is only possible if the existing buildings, the current inhabitants, and the new constructions establish a strong relationship with each other. But rather than imposing homogenity on the area, we propose to diversity and exploitation of the existing as a guiding strategy.
The historic Old Mining Village of Aldea Moret -- Sopanish national Heritage Site -- consists of fragments that differ by function and size, containing, in a random sampling, seven housing blocks datting from the early 1900s, in different state of ruin, several pieces of abandon mining infrastructure, two newly renovated heroic concrete shell warehouses and many informal public spaces. Instead of attempting to unify or homogenize the area, we prefer to start with what is existing and to capitalize on it (this also forms the basis of our approach to sustainability).
Open spaces – or 'voids' – are potentially more important than the impulse to add new buildings. These voids can become animated public spaces that form connections within the area and to the surrounding city. A project of such ambition and scale requires subtle acts of preservation and regeneration. We propose seven strategies of preservation that expand the traditional categories, identify new values in the preexistences and allow to double the number of units following the village original plan.
In summary the Master Plan for the Old Mining Village of Aldea Moret is the first step in the transformation of the former company town in the Node of Innovation; a net-zero neighborhood developed through participatory processes that explores expanded definitions of preservation.