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Essay by Teresa Galí-Izard, excerpted from Cities & Rivers by Ciro Najle, Lluís Ortega, published by Actar Publishers.

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Eight Concepts


A fence that divides a field, a storage silo, a perpendicular intersection between two roads, a tractor or a windmill are basic elements, implements that give us clues to the actions that occur in a given territory. Their selection determines the essential aspects for the industrialization of the place, for the implementation of a new ecosystem. They are signs that help us understand in an environment we are not familiar with and signs for a different future: how it is activated, how it is transformed and how it is prepared. Their combination is just the opposite: sophistication and complex design relate them to one another. “From the unit to the entity” is the expression of the meaning of architecture that, in a complex way, explores the multiple relationships that can be derived from the combination of independent pieces. It is an exploration founded on a rule‐based system of unexpected relationships that lead to apparently impossible formalizations, which will be integrated and absorbed as normal in a not-so-distant future.



Abstraction almost as a sickness bent on reaching perfection. Simplification. The search for relationships, repetition, and contrast. The absence of units. An exercise in the definition of form. The importance of formalization in attaining the desired information. Its consequences for the imagery of a new ecology. The opposite path is not so evident: when abstraction is no longer abstract and biophysical materiality appears, alive and changing; when a system conceived as perfect comes to life in a pre-existing culture at a moment of economic instability, with a need for production, the limitations of place, the dynamics of the market, traditions. What is the result of the confrontation of the system with the passage of time, its interaction with living elements and with decadence?

Infrastructure as Place

Its scarcity. The absolute transformation of the environment generated by the infrastructure that is embraced by another ecosystem. The negation of geology resulting from this new entity. The establishment of new opportunities that break with the past forever. The intuition that the infrastructure is the place that irreversibly defines and determines the system. The different degrees of transformation and the visualization of the new process that is being activated. The discovery of the place’s potential through testing the limits of the infrastructure, of the new machinery that will make it work. Gathering energy using simple mechanisms. Maximums, minimums. Measuring.


The time it takes to fill a silo, the time left before field capacity is reached. The time for watering, for evapotranspiration, absorption, the brief intervention in maintenance. The fauna and the flora that connect us to far-off and short-lived natural systems, which act in spite of us. The geological time that makes us responsible for irreversible processes, the formation of the ground and its movement as a result of meteorological phenomena: wind on the great plains, gravity in the mountains. Rotations. Distributing crops across time and the alternatives: distributing crops across space. The annual and biannual crop cycles. The generation of plant structures, which transform into seeds that the wind scatters, or waste matter that accumulates, decomposes and mineralizes at imperceptible speeds. Fire that devours material and transforms its properties in an instant.

Invisibility, Imperfection

A gaze that has to be trained to see what has not been drawn. What is the medium that allows for architecture, and how does the medium inform its configuration? Imperfection, the meeting place for irregularity, for error, or for everything else that has no place, despite its existence. That which does not follow the rules. The unknown. The directions of crops versus the patterns of crop management, which never coincide. The direction of the harvest in relation to the direction of how the crops were sowed. The moment of turning the harvester back along a parallel path, which is when the driver can take a pause. The only personalized path on the field that gains strength year after year, until it becomes a motive of interest, a place in and of itself. The discovery of the system’s language. What its limits are, where it changes and where the outlines blur. The wind affects the water from the sprinkler and creates a wavy topography of corn, because evapotranspiration and the imperfect water distribution don’t allow for adhering to the provisions of homogeneity in the distribution. The new system as a process that is inevitably shared with unpredictable natural processes.

System Metabolism

Its physiology. We can intuit the artificial relationships among designed elements that are derived from a position, from measurements. The maintenance of fences, access points, the circulation of water. The trails of other animals across this network: snails, rabbits, lizards, etc. And a physiology of survival too, of simple microbiological systems that occupy this nondescript homogeneity. The exposure and the changing conditions for the micro-organisms in the earth, the disappearance of sensitive organisms and the disproportionate proliferation of the most resistant ones. Survival in these extreme conditions.


The endpoint of the process that begins with geology and weather. Vegetation as a biological indicator of the combination of both factors, and production as an expression of optimal growth based on the selection of species, genetics, infrastructures to support the process, and the management and overseeing of the cultivation. All factors participate throughout the production process, resulting in the final dimension of the storage warehouse, the silos, the size of the plots of land. The dimensions of the fenced lots can be determined, based on the length of the fencing, which determines the pressure and the rotations of livestock. It would be possible to follow this path in the other direction, beginning with dimensions and arriving at different combinations of geology, weather and surface area. An exercise in combining parameters for each crop would undoubtedly lead us to all of the climates and geologies on the planet, simply by modifying the extension of the production. The units of measurement.


Drawing allows for envisioning the organization of our thoughts, our priorities. The systematization in drawing lets us discover relationships between elements that we could never describe through language. The exercise of drawing associated with systematization intended to order and classify, but also to discover. The windmill, the enclosure or the legs of the grain silos drawn using the same language; the same dimensions, forms and materials make them combinable. Drawing is a powerful tool for the discovery of possible relationships, which only occurs by putting it into practice. A calm and systematic drawing leads to reflection; a drawing with no other goal than discovery helps us avoid hurrying. Our ego can rest, and the subconscious begins to speak in a translation of knowledge that we don’t quite understand ourselves. Drawing other logics using the same language is left for another day. The ground (not just physical ground) that conceals life and micro-organisms. The agents of weather: wind, temperature, dust and rain, act powerfully on the system, effecting changes. How the outline of a powerful pattern is blurred and how the next step is drawn; decadence, decomposition.

Essay by Teresa Galí-Izard, excerpted from Cities & Rivers by Ciro Najle, Lluís Ortega, published by Actar Publishers.

Learn more:

urbanNext (June 14, 2024) Eight Concepts. Retrieved from
Eight Concepts.” urbanNext – June 14, 2024,
urbanNext June 6, 2016 Eight Concepts., viewed June 14, 2024,<>
urbanNext – Eight Concepts. [Internet]. [Accessed June 14, 2024]. Available from:
Eight Concepts.” urbanNext – Accessed June 14, 2024.
Eight Concepts.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: [Accessed: June 14, 2024]

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