The founding members met while 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. Best known for creating colorful playgrounds from landfill waste such as old tires, wooden pallets, and discarded plastics, Basurama’s work asks viewers to reconsider wasted space, wasted energy, and how higher thinking on these issues can lead to urban rejuvenation.
In addition to their architectural projects, Basurama has also developed a unique community training program around the concept of waste. Residuos Sólidos Urbanos (RUS), or Urban Solid Waste, 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, operating under the belief that new public spaces can form from a combination of waste and wasted space. 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. The ambition is to leave a community with the skills to convert its own waste into usable material.
Recently, Basurama has been focused on working in participatory processes with public schools to collaboratively redesign the school courtyards, making them more accessible and equitable. Their newly opened project, “Colina del Reciclaje,” saw tires repurposed as material for the construction of a playground. In the past year, they have embarked on a similar project creating playgrounds by reusing fallen trees left by a snow storm in the parks of Madrid.
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.