Cirugeda began his practice while still a student in 1997 to examine how and why formal structural elements of the city, like zoning ordinances and building codes, seemed constructed in a way that promoted investment opportunities while leaving most middle and lower-income residents displaced or deprived of the amenities necessary to create neighborhoods.
The projects of Recetas Urbanas include building cheap ‘condos’ on rooftops, attaching micro-apartments to scaffolding or placing them on stilts in alleyways, and disassembling buildings slated for demolition and reassembling them into art centers. The collective exploits loopholes in civic law to create community gathering spaces, playgrounds, and other civic amenities which the city is unwilling or unable to provide. Through this work, Recetas Urbanas introduces two layers of provocation; by providing necessary amenities through novel means, the group calls attention to the absence of such amenities, as well as to the fact that subversion is necessary to achieve them.
Most recently, Recetas Urbanas has confronted the effects of the mortgage and dispossession crisis in Spain. The collective also works alongside Arquitectura Colectiva, an international association of approximately 80 collectives of artists, architects, and hackers.
We had an opportunity to have an extended conversation with Recetas Urbanas’s founder Santiago Cirugeda on Social Design Insights. Listen to the episode below.