Urban Space Station

A prototype for the general invasion of rooftops and other residual spaces with high biodiversity, redemptive ecosystems, USS-s serve as seeds, catalyzing a natural recuperation of the city’s surfaces. Their uses range from scientific and educative to recreational, while they capture carbon emissions and generate oxygen. ETFE’s double skin allows for the structure to be lightweight and creates a heat exchange. Rainwater accumulates in underbelly bags, while the texture design of the structure itself helps channel the airflow to generate electricity. Secondary use as ultra-fine particulate collector has demonstrated capable of passively cleaning street-level air near host buildings. A 40% of this prototype (USS 1.0)  was built and tested within the exhibition Souls & Machines, Digital Art & New Media, held in 2008, at the National Art Museum Reina Sofía in Madrid. In 2016, a 1:1 prototype was built for the Art Triennial Emscherkunst. Placed on top of an existent building, docked onto the air conditioning of the surrounding buildings, it created a cleaning circulation; the building’s waste air and warmth were filtered by the USSs plants, cleaned, and enriched with oxygen before it was led back into the building.


The Competition

“A new documentary by Spanish architect Angel Borrego Cubero makes for compulsive viewing” (The Guardian, Oliver Wainwright)

“Ángel Borrego Cubero’s wonderfully gossipy film The Competition (…) offers a revealing glimpse of life at a big – name practice.”(ICON, Owen Pritchard)

“The film is a history lesson. And a chance to think about who and what decides how the buildings will be and what and for what buildings are needed”. (El País, Anatxu Zabalbeascoa)


A documentary movie constructed as an almost uncomfortable but intensely fascinating account of how some of the best architects in the world, design giants like Jean Nouvel or Frank Gehry, toil, struggle and strategize to beat the competition. While nearly as old as the profession itself, architectural competitions became a social, political and cultural phenomenon of the post-Guggenheim Bilbao museums and real estate bubbles of the recent past. Taking place at the dramatic moment in which the bubble became a crisis, this is the first competition to be documented in excruciatingly raw detail.

Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Dominique Perrault, Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster are selected to participate in the design of the future National Museum of Art of Andorra, a first in the Pyrenees small country. Norman Foster drops out of the competition after a change in the rules that allow the documentary to happen. Three months of design work go into the making of the different proposals, while, behind doors, a power struggle between the different architects and the client has a profound impact on the level of transparency granted by each office to the resident documentary crew, and which has a definite influence in the material shown in the film.

The presentations to the jury happen in one intense day close to election time in Andorra, becoming a hot event in the tiny country, with media all around the international stars that may help shape its future. Of the four remaining architects three show up to make personal presentations, every one of which becomes a fascinating study in personality, strategy, character, showmanship… and a dramatic moment in which any detail becomes both important and irrelevant, the line between failure and success perfectly imperceptible. But does the jury have the last word?

The Competition is the first film documenting the tense developments that characterize architectural contests. On October 10th 2013, The Competition opened the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR), with an audience of more than 500 people. The participation at the AFFR was as the same time the World Première of this documentary and since then it’s being shown all over the world. The final edit was first shown in September 2014 at Filmoteca Cine Doré, in Madrid. An Official Selection film for programs such as the Vancouver Intl. Film Festival – VIFF’15, the Intl. Film Festival of Contemporary Art from Naples – Artecinema’15, the Intl. Festival of Film on Art from Montréal – FIFA’15; the Intl. Documentary Film Festival – DocumentaMadrid’14, the Intl. Festival of Film on Art from Florence – Lo Schermo dell`Arte’14, The Competition has been also awarded an Architecture Dissemination Award at the XIII Spanish Biennale of Architecture and the First Prize at the COAM Awards ’14, an annually given award by the Architects Association from Madrid to the best achievements of architecture in Madrid.


Spanische Spione

At the exhibition Spanische Spione everything is dominated by a capsule which can be reached by going up the stairs. This capsule raises over the usual level of artistic enjoying, playing with the idea of the art as an instrument of elevation or social ascent, which is what gives the name to the piece: AAAEE (Art As An Elevating Experience). The position of the capsule turns the directors of the art gallery into pieces of their own venue, since one can watch them in their office trough the methacrylate. AAAEE was first shown in 2004 at the International Art Fair ARCO Madrid, where the installation converted the art fair into an art work, by the appropriating of the general view of it.

City Display Barcelona

This generative public art installation was assigned to us by Abalos & Herreros, architects of the Barcelona Urban Waste Treatment Plant, which was the main facade of the Forum de las Culturas de Barcelona in 2004. It seemed interesting to use the opportunity of the large waste treatment machine to produce a prototype of a new contemporary façade that would interact with people and allow them dialogue in a public space. Visitors to the Forum de las Culturas could write messages with their mobile phones live, in a size of 55×16 meters, which made them a public mode of communication. Another board would be located in the moving urban landscape that constitutes the Barcelona ring-road, providing a fleeting show to thousands of drivers: 440 blue LED bulbs would serve to monitor the plant’s sensors, making visible environmental data related to their own garbage to the citizens of Barcelona or any other type of information in a graphic, fast and intuitive way or even retransmissions of the sea that is behind, blocked by the same Waste Treatment Plant that serves as support thus becoming sort of a huge X-ray screen.


The AAAEE (Art As An Elevating Experience)’s second version was developed with a similar concept to the one we had designed for the 2004 edition of the International Contemporary Art Fair ARCO Madrid. It was another opportunity to convert the art fair into an art work, trough appropriating a general view of the fair. The visitors were elevated over the ground level. Art is converted into AAAEE, in a literal way, physically, into an elevating experience. This is also a fairground and a journey. The piece turns the fair’s space into a “Playtime” with a Mars orange tone, into a colorful landscape that contrasts with the extreme clarity of the object’s perception and the people inside.


Strangely, in some canonical publications of the Modern Movement, some columns disappear from two famous projects designed by Mies van der Rohe… The are famous, precisely because of their structure’s perfection. Is this a Mies’s project? Is the missing structure essential to understand it in this way? Or the picture doesn’t show any doubts about it? The perfectionism which Mies is generally associated with, makes even more fascinating the orchestrated disappearance of some structure elements, some columns, exactly those which are more visible and necessary.

Exposición Vigilada (Peace O’Mind 1 & 2)

The idea for this project came up during a trip to Vitoria to prepare an architecture course. The meeting with organizers and collaborators moved from an office to a restaurant. The walk was guided by a participant’s escort. This subjective perception is the most important thing in Peace O’ Mind 1 & 2 ( P.O.M. 1 y P.O.M. 2). The principal as well as the secondary installations are simultaneous and synchronized videos. The parallel running of both in a realistic position and with a normal point of view establishes a temporal trap which simulates its live retransmission. This real time simulation, as well as the design of the spectator position in relation with the installation, locate him/her as the watched person. Or as someone who watches the situation from outside. The installation is the picture of a situation from a subjective perspective, in which the spectator is located into an apparent position of perception of danger, in a dangerous situation. The point of view, literally, is that of the people in danger. Both screens located face to face, in a real size, the fixed point of view, the lineal narrative; make the installation a “realistic picture”, in the context of the history of art. It is the portrait of a situation, of an urban space.


In 2003, Ángel Borrego Cubero was invited to produce and show a public art installation within the VII Biennial of Spanish Architecture. The result was “Shiny.Flat.Smooth/ Brillante.Plano.Suave” that is a video installation, which uses footage of destruction and material violence taken from contemporary science fiction and action films. Often this spectacular violence is done on shiny and smooth surfaces. Living in an era that has been marked by a heightened fear of massive destruction, this project intends to present how these newly acquired terrors manifest within popular culture. This collage of demolition footage is projected on windows and other existing shiny surfaces in public urban spaces. At the VII Biennial it was projected on the windows of the Architecture Center Las Arquerías de los Nuevos Ministerios so that anyone could see it from outdoors.


The director of the International Art Fair Madrid ARCO asked a chill-out space. The purpose was to produce a rest space where you had to do more exercise. In first place, the rest was produced by forcing the body to leave the horizontal movement and to climb onto to the back of an object 6 meters high. The object is an architectonical element, an out of place stair leading to nowhere. Depending on the moment and the height, the stair changes into a viewpoint, a meeting point, bleaches from where to see a show, a fashion runway, a place from where to look out and a place where to be seen. In second place, the rest was for the eyes and the sight under. The void of the pavilion was recovered and used in order to see from above. Art seen from 6 meters up.


SpeedWall critically plays with the relationships between high-tech, typically associated, when about construction, with metallic finishes, and its caricature as low-tech using a simple domestic aluminum foil roll. Aluminum foil roll preserves food, but here it preserves the museum’s or art gallery’s white wall. This project came up as an installation for the Family Abad’s Beach House located in Cabo de Gata. The aluminium bands emphasize the land off speed of the inhabitant to the near sea and dissolve the wall texture and its gravity.