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Best known for creating colorful playgrounds from common landfill waste like old tires, wooden pallets, and discarded plastics, Basurama is a collective of Spanish artists creating projects that provide cultural amenities while facilitating a wider conversation about the production of waste in our consumer society and how it can be transformed into a resource. Beyond a literal definition of trash, Basurama’s work makes us consider wasted space, wasted energy, and how higher thinking on these issues can lead to urban rejuvenation.

The founding members met while still students at Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid. Rejecting the conventions of architectural education, the group took to the streets – engaging, participating and learning from the city around them.

In addition to their architectural projects, Basurama has also developed a unique community training program around the concept of waste. Residuos Sólidos Urbanos (Urban Solid Waste or RUS) is a public art multi-format project that considers waste, both in solid and spatial senses. The projects look at waste as a material resource with which to reactivate abandoned space. Waste + Wasted Space = New Public Spaces.

RUS is effectively a prototyping process and provides speed training for communities with little to no economic resources. The ambition is to leave a community with the skills to convert its own waste into productive improvements. Each RUS project starts with a research trip to get in contact with locals and get to know the city (conflicts, community, NGOs, artists, universities, etc.). From there, the research is organized, local collaborators are chosen, projects are designed and the group subsequently works with municipalities to secure local permissions.

We had a chance to speak with Nicolas Herringer of EXYZT, along with Alberto Nanclares of Basurama on Social Design Insights. Listen to the episodes below.

27 | How All Space Becomes Public Space, Part 1
28 | How All Space Becomes Public Space, Part 2


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2017 is "Sorry" by Comfort Fit. The break music is "Umfazi Omdala" by Johnny Clegg and Savuka from their album "Johnny Clegg with Savuka LIVE!."