Celebrating the city – Concentrico Festival in Logroño signifies the role of arts and architecture in cities 

International Architecture and Design Festival Concentrico celebrates its 10th edition with a diverse array of intriguing installations, creating a unique opportunity to experience the city through new lenses, experiences, and surprises.

Invited by the chief curator, Javier Peña Ibáñez, we responded by reflecting on what inspires us in public spaces and cities—and how we position ourselves as designers in relation to the users, the city, and the space. Our philosophy leans on the idea of urban prototyping: discovering through interaction, interventions, and experiments what is latent within a place and its community. We often categorize our work as “infrastructure for social interactions” or “hardware for soft cities,” implying that the structures, elements or furniture we create, act like the set in a theater play, around which the action revolves and evolves.

“Through the knowledge that is generated, more people can create a critical spirit with the environment that surrounds them. If we as a society move in this direction, we are sure to find good results.”

Basic Forms (of Urban Life) is about designing disruptions. It’s about playing with order and disorder, the elemental factors in our cities. We advocate for designing “open-endedness” in our cities, meaning people should and could make public places their own through flexible use and modularity, as opposed to rigid structures. Flexibility requires trust, commitment, and genuine interest from stakeholders who manage public spaces—something we were pleased to see from Biblioteca Rafael Azcona, who adopted and cared for the installation, influencing the decision to make it a permanent addition to the square.

The installation evolved beyond our expectations. What surprised us most was the amount and variety of play it ignited. Our heartfelt thanks go to the children who shared their imagination with us by building kiosks, routes, patterns, cafes, and towers. Everyone who used the installation’s furniture collectively contributed to the patterns it formed every day. We believe play, sitting, meeting, and lingering are the basic forms of urban life that every city and nearly every public place needs to keep our cities human and connected. We are grateful to have been part of the transition in Logroño: from a road to a playful square.

See the installation in action and how patterns evolve through interaction.

Chief curator and initiator of the festival Javier Peña Ibáñez shares his thoughts with us:

What is the most surprising or unexpected outcome of the festival? And of the Basic Forms installation?
It has been an edition in which we have completed many relevant questions of the project. I think it is a unique case because of the connection and the maturity it has acquired over the last 10 years. We have worked with the city in a back and forth dialogue in which we have been able to make the proposals and their approaches more complex because we have all learned from what has been built together. This has been clearly seen in the Basic Forms project as well, as it has gone a step beyond the physical transformation of the space, the Plaza next to the Library, to a general social impact.

How do you see the role of urban interventions changing the relationship of the city and its citizens?
Yes, actually, more than changing the relationship, they are shown as something accessible and useful for people’s lives. That is the most important thing, that through the knowledge that is generated, more people can create a critical spirit with the environment that surrounds them. If we as a society move in this direction, we are sure to find good results.

What can other cities learn from Logroño and Concentrico?
I think that this medium-long term work and understanding time and this annual cadence as something strategic to generate a shared learning rhythm. Concéntrico has been accompanying us in these 10 years, also with our vital and emotional changes, it has connected from that space of a certain intimacy in which the collective has great potential.

Basic Forms will continue as a permanent feature outside the library – what factors impacted the decision?
The library has taken ownership of the project in a unique way, has taken care of it during the days of the festival, and we all think that it is a great resource to continue generating new dynamics in the activities they carry out. It’s a very active library and connected to the neighbourhood, so if these elements help to improve something, it’s welcome.

Moreover, we have embraced a dynamic where we leave some interventions in the city for longer periods—some permanently, others as catalysts for rethinking urban development. This concept of remaining has taken on a new dimension in 2024.

Basic Forms (of Urban Life) installation was supported by Instituto Iberoamericano De Finlandia

Read more about the installation

Explore the 2024 edition installations of Concentrico including Willem De Haan, KOSMOS, Malte Martin, Outpost Office and many more!