Accepted Paper:

The free archive, the architecture of experiment, and the city  


Adolfo Estalella (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

Paper short abstract:

Free archives liberating experimental worlds in the city, they epitomize two distinctive traditions that intersect in the emerging grassroots Madrilenian urbanisms: A material sensibility intervening in the public space with infrastructures and a liberating impulse that draws inspiration from Free Software

Paper long abstract:

An instrument traditionally in the hands of States and large institutions, archives have massively proliferated in our societies in the last years. This impulse to archive has pervaded grassroots urbanisms, do-it-yourself urban projects and civic initiatives in the political climate of urban uprising that have recently blossomed in Spain. Drawing on a long ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Madrid, this paper explores the intersection of the archive and the city in the professional work of a series of architectural collectives, urban guerrillas focused on collaborative projects of urban intervention.

These collectives have been constructing free archives equipped with free/copyleft licenses that document, narrate and tinker with the city. An example is the Declaration of Urban Rights created by a collective called Zuloark. Initially an open digital repository, it was later reassembled into an 'urban parliament' that refurnished the public space to host debates about the city. Archives like the Universal Declaration epitomize a distinctive aspect of the grassroots Madrilenian urbanisms sitting at the intersection of two traditions: A material sensibility that intervenes in the public space building infrastructures and is imbued by the liberating impulse of the digital culture of Free Software. In this paper I intimate the opportunity to think of the material infrastructures of these free archives as the architecture that liberates experimental worlds in the city, doing so I suggest the experimental condition as a distinctive aspect of these forms of grassroots urbanism.

Panel T105
Wild research: Radical openings in technoscientific practice?