“I want to question urban planning through the study of places which ascape a fixed definition of city or of architecture: empty lots, waste lands, demolition sites; places which due the forgetfulness or lack of interest escape a defined design and are open to all kind of possibilities.”
Lara Almarcegui is a Spanish contemporary artist based in Rotterdam, her work highlights neglected or undefined spaces within urban environments, which she researches, preserves, and documents through photos, text, guides and publications. Almarcegui challenges the pervasive omnipresence of design and planning in urban environments through finding and defining it a other to the city. Almarcegui claims that urban wastelands embody a different velocity and impulse to that of the designed space offering the slowest of living processes— ‘natural processes of decay, transition and entropy - processes which affect all places but which are hidden in the rest of the city’ (Almarcegui, 2009)
Commissioned for the ‘Radical Nature’ exhibition at the Barbicaan, London Almarcegui produced a ‘Guide to the Wastelands of the Lea Valley - 12 Empty Spaces Await the London Olympics’
When attending a group guided tour led by Almarcegui around the 12 wastelands in Lee Valley I asked Lara why she chooses to represent the wastelands through published guide books as aposed to other methods:
I like the freedom the publication gives you, the guided tours are nice…but there’s always something imperative, like now we come here and then now we do this. I like the freedom of going to the places whenever I want and just know that they exist and go if I feel like and if I don’t go at least I know they are there. And that’s how I like things to work……That’s why I like guides so much and that’s why I publish them. They are a tool for knowing places that can be used as you want. In a guided tour you have to follow a certain performance.