Exedra: Architectural Artifact for Social Engagement at La Capella, Barcelona


Collaborators: Matteo Caro, Judith López
Steel construction: Óxido Taller
Client: La Capella–Barcelona Producció 2019

Two Exedra modules combined in La Capella's main exhibition space

In 2019, artist Jordi Ferreiro was commissioned the educational program of La Capella museum in Barcelona for 2020. During this year, Ferreiro has been working with schools, NGO’s, and the municipality, to bring the center’s cultural offerings to the heterogeneous community inhabiting the rapidly gentrifying Raval neighborhood, where La Capella is located. Ferreiro asked me to create a space to be specifically used for this purpose. The aim was to avoid the actual isolation that normally exists between the art objects being discussed and the educational practices built around them (which take place in rooms away from the gallery). At the same time, the goal was to revalorize the educational program of the museum in the eyes of the Raval inhabitants. One of the aims of the design was to move away from standardized institutional approaches to participation and social engagement — ones which emphasize do-it-yourself aesthetics and the use of primary colors referencing pedagogic spaces. This design emphasized light, and was made to be portable, in order that it could be placed amidst the exhibition space, directly confronting the artworks to be discussed.

This presented a two-fold challenge. On the one hand, the design needed to create an intimate space for conversation in the huge, gothic venue. On the other hand, the design needed to not interfere and distort the actual environment of the exhibition space. The final design consists in two symmetrical stands. Each of them weighing only 70 kg and movable by a single person, thus easing the relocation of the piece in a facility with reduced staff.

Their heart-shaped form both refers to domestic-scale objects such as the Victorian sofa or the Acapulco chair, as well as taking the dimensions of industrial movable stairs. Both in staircases as well as the pieces of furniture mentioned, the body stands in a relaxed position which is understood to be predisposed to informal conversations. The artifacts produced were thought of as prototypes to be implemented in other museums and cultural centers.

After the hiatus provoked by the COVID-19 health crisis in Spain, La Capella and Ferreiro have started to rethink how to use these artifacts for exhibition purposes, the location of screens, and educational activities, in accordance with safety regulations.