urban prototypes A Research Cluster of the Architectural Association

urban prototypes
Eva Castro interview

An extract from an Interview conducted with Eva Castro in London, November 2012

Clara Oloriz: How would you define the term ‘prototype’ and its relations to type or typology?

Eva Castro: The way that I see it, which is how we utilize it, stands probably from a certain critical point towards the type in relationship to a very predetermined capacity and very inflexible possibilities of adaptation. The type is something that is matured, rooted and in a way driven by a set of requirements, most commonly, by one requirement; a remedial response to a certain problem. What interests me about the prototype as an alternative to the type is particularly its use within processes of production as in architectural, urban production, and design. I see the prototype as a medium that never gets frozen. That capacity of a constant transformation is what interests me. So, by default, it is not something that I see as something you can build but it is rather part of a methodology that allows you to transform and to test your ideas perhaps in a larger scale, and to use it as a mechanism for a feedback loop. […]

So the notion of the prototype as a kind of malleable type allows us, in one way, to address urbanism and spatial production beyond function and the remedial approach and, on the other hand, it allows us to use it as a mediation between scales and as a testing mechanism. Because we are able to test how it operates and we are able to test what it does in the ground, what effect it might have in the larger scale, and then that ‘answer’, can be brought back into the prototype to change it again. Hence it is not a type, it is a prototype, a mechanism to work with. Arguably, you could say that the minute a project is closed and kind of printed out, then maybe it becomes just a legacy of the prototype.

Eva Castro  was the director of the AA’s Landscape Urbanism programme (2005-12) and cofounder of Plasma Studio and GroundLab. She studied architecture and urbanism at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and subsequently completed the AA Graduate Design programme with Jeff Kipnis. She is winner of the Next Generation Architects Award, the Young Architect of the Year Award, the ContractWorld Award and the HotDip Galvanising Award. Her work is published and exhibited worldwide. Plasma and GroundLab are currently lead designers for the International Horticultural Fair in Xi’an, China a 37ha landscape with a wide range of buildings due to open in 2011.

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