English versions of the following articles are available online

Title: Reversibility. Disassembling the biggest ephemeral mega city
Author: Rahul Mehrotra. Chair Department of Urban Planning and Design, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. / Felipe Vera. Co-director, Centro de Ecología, Paisaje y Urbanismo, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: It seems incredible but it’s true. In India, there is an ephemeral mega-city, which lasts five weeks, and which is then completely dismantled until its new assembly. This research not only tells the story of this impressive example of reversible urbanism, but also analyzes the key facts and logics –administrative and material– that allow the city to function with a flexibility we would hardly associate with an urban settlement, even less if it hosts up to 7 million inhabitants.
Keywords: India, Kumbh Mela, urbanism, ephemeral, informal
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Title: Demountable Heritage. Ara Pacis and the reconstruction of memory
Author: Elvira Pérez. Head of Magíster en Patrimonio Cultural, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: Through the study of the transfer of the Ara Pacis in Rome to a new location within a custom-made building, this article invites us to unravel the vicissitudes of the dismantling and relocation of monuments, an operation which while not new, questions the connection between heritage and place. Because if a monument is the petrification of memory so it can endure, disassembly may be a form of preservation that should not be underestimated.
Keywords: Rome, Italy, conservation, disassembly, moving
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Title: A Panel’s Trajectories
Author: Pedro Alonso. Professor, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile. / Hugo Palmarola. Professor, Escuela de Diseño, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: A concrete panel, manufactured to be transported from an industry to the work-site, ends up travelling from Chile to Venice to become the symbol of a modern constructive system of global scope. Its trajectories however, began when the cement was still wet, initiating a unique story of conceptual assembly and disassembly, where a prefabricated panel for the construction of housing units ends up becoming the cornerstone of a truly historiographical project.
Keywords: Architecture, Chile, Venice Biennale, prefabrication, modernity
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Title: The Pyramids of Sand From the absolute to the relative in architecture
Author: Tania Tovar. Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), Columbia University. New York, USA.
Abstract: How long does architecture last? Following Boltzmann’s argument –that the only infinite thing is change and that every object invariably tends towards degradation– this text presents a brilliant theoretical argument regarding the possibility of architecture no longer surviving as an object –building– but rather as a document. In this sense, questioning the temporality of architecture would be unnecessary because, sooner or later, even the pyramids will turn into dust.
Keywords: Theory, creation, archive, document, media
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Title: From the Fun Palace to the Generator. Cedric Price and the conception of the first intelligent building
Author: José Hernández. Architect, Magíster en Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: Like most of Cedric Price’s projects, the Generator was never built. However, its principles –which take the cybernetic explorations of the Fun Palace one step further– make it a case worthy of attention. Thus, this article discusses a project that was not only demountable and reconfigurable, but also, being designed to operate with artificial intelligence, could get bored if users did not interact with its components.
Keywords: Cybernetics, project, artificial intelligence, Gordon Pask, system design
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Title: The re-creation of habitat as a co-production of the body and world
Author: Matías Garretón. Professor, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Centro de Inteligencia Territorial, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: The extensive use of participatory strategies and their transformation into politically correct slogans have made this concept lose its strength; however, there is still unexplored potential when we overcome the mere participative rhetoric. From that path, this article argues that temporary interventions that encourage participation favor social cohesion, because as they co-produce the world people tend to value diversity and, in the words of Latour, can also ‘learn to be moved’.
Keywords: Participation, aesthetics, Latour, Paris, France
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Title: Architectures of circulation and accumulation: Reassembling the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions
Author: Marina Otero. Research Director, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Holanda.
Abstract: What happens with the Serpentine Gallery pavilions once the London summer is over? Based on a research of over three years, this article not only reveals that these pavilions do have a second life in the hands of several private collectors, but also that, following these pavilions’ trajectories, it’s possible to unveil one of the finest mechanisms of capital accumulation through auteur contemporary architecture.
Keywords: Contemporary architecture, London, exhibition, author, temporary
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Editorial. Demounting Structures

Shortly before his death in 2003, Cedric Price made sure that the Interaction Centre –building he designed twenty seven years earlier– was demolished. While this act may be interpreted as a demonstration of eccentricity, it could also be argued that Price was being faithful to an architecture that, to him, should be like food—which is prepared, eaten, digested and later evacuated; therefore, there would be no need to maintain a building beyond its useful life, even if this implied to reject the community’s intention of preserving it as a historical building.

This unique example gives account, however, of a much broader idea: that some inhabitable structures could not be destined to endure, thus questioning the notion that architecture is defined by its permanence. We are talking about those structures which –like the tents Semper proposed as the origin of architecture– are thought with a limited temporality, capable of being dismantled and removed, but that remain ready to be re-installed again.

This notion, which may appear rather simple, implies a fundamental redefinition that hasn’t been yet resolved. Because if the architectural project seeks to envisage final form and design details that will allow the construction to resist weather and endure in time, demountable structures imply an additional concern about the reversibility of the process, demanding at least a broader definition of the extents of a project. The recent insistence over these architectures and the several paths of exploration opened, are presented in this edition through a dossier of 12 examples of different scales and backgrounds.

Yet, beyond the project itself, it’s interesting to remember that the concepts of assembly and disassembly operate in other spheres too, with architecture participating as a tool, objective or even as a problem. For example, Andrea Ferro’s photographs of the Expo Milano 2015 assembly process –which open this issue– lead us to ask about the future of these pavilions once the exhibition ends. As an initial answer to these concerns, Rahul Mehrotra and Felipe Vera presents us the case of the Kumbh Mela, a city which is assembled and disassembled every year, temporarily hosting over 5 million people. Elvira Pérez opens up another possibility by de-dramatizing the supposedly intrinsic relation between architecture and place reminding us that even heritage can be dismantled and assembled again. Reaffirming the validity of this argument we present the journeys of a concrete panel which in every stop seems to gain more value, a phenomenon accurately observed –and also produced– by Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola. Following this idea, Tania Tovar brilliantly describes the changing mechanisms –from building to document– that architecture uses to endure once it assumes that its products will not last forever. At this point José Hernández brings us back to Price, who in 1976 designed a building capable of getting ‘bored’ if its users didn’t reconfigure it. This line of thought is reinforced by Matías Garretón, who proposes that co-production is essential for the proliferation of subjectivities. Finally, and closing the circle of questions opened by the photographs of the Expo Milano, Marina Otero’s research not only unveils that the Serpentine Gallery pavilions in London have a new life in the hands of private collectors, but also dismantles the mechanisms of capital accumulation that occur around name-brand architecture.

This London episode also reminds us that the first large demountable structure –the Crystal Palace– was designed in 1851 by the English gardener Joseph Paxton and that it was precisely in the England of the sixties where young architects such as Price or Archigram revived this tradition either as disposable, plug-in, instant, or mobile architecture. But while we can understand that these structures emerged within the context of the Industrial Revolution, and later reappeared together with the ideals of emancipation and mobility of young people in the sixties, how do we explain that today they are no longer marginal manifestations and have become protagonists of contemporary architecture’s discourse?

Boltanski and Chiapello argued in 1999 that the most recent mutation of capitalism was precisely the appropriation of the ideals of emancipation and freedom that the youth of ‘68 had raised as their fighting flag. Hence, we could interpret the revival of sixties’ architecture –and its demountable structures– as representations of the ductility of this new capitalism. But we could also understand the recent global avalanche of temporary architectures as a reaction to the ‘timeless’ adjective with which some contemporary practices justify their projects.

Without any intention to resolve this interrogation, and following Price, in this issue of ARQ we ask ourselves about these demountable structures simply for the curiosity that their resurgence yields within the current context. If that same youthful curiosity to understand is what led the avant-gardes to demount structures and existing assumptions, renewing and vitalizing architecture’s discourse, shouldn’t we be constantly dismantling structures to understand, question and thus vitalize our discipline? We obviously don’t have the answer, but about to turn 35, and with 90 issues already published, in ARQ we keep intact the curiosity to ask ourselves these and many other questions.


MATHEWS, Stanley. From Agit-Prop to Free Space: The Architecture of Cedric Price (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007).

BOLTANSKI, Luc; CHIAPELLO, Eve. The New Spirit of Capitalism. Traducción de Gregory Elliot. (London: Verso, 2005). Original en francés de 1999.