The Showroom

Recetas Urbanas: Affection as Subversive Architecture


30 September – 19 December 2020


'There is something more profuse in the trajectory of Recetas Urbanas (which in Spanish means both Urban Recipes and Urban Prescriptions) than their projects: the people who intervene in them. Strangers and acquaintances. People from the neighbourhood and beyond. Faces, voices, people. The conversations, the laughter, an occasional shout... All of the above, have perhaps as much or even more presence than the rumour of drills and saws. Impromptu questions, stopping all tasks to share an opinion or to take a decision, as well as explaining the aim of a job using an anecdote. There is a rare collective intimacy, a way of building community made into a process that is established in each project. One would think that in the exercise of such form of architecture there is a challenging spontaneity, but everything is part of an orchestration, which is as meditated as it is wildly free.'


Affection as Subversive Architecture is a project by the Spanish architecture collective Recetas Urbanas exploring how to create alternative architectural and educational spaces through participatory self-construction and active citizenry. By destabilising mainstream assumptions about public structures and their legislative frameworks, this project features new architectural strategies for schools, community centres and higher educational platforms that prioritise engaging with nature and building sustainable communities.

For the next two months, The Showroom will serve as a laboratory where members of Recetas Urbanas, architect Blanca Pujals and other collaborators will share their research, generate workshops, facilitate self-construction and foster dialogues with local collectives and agencies. Expanding upon the collective's current case study of a forest school in Biggin Woods, Croydon, The Showroom will become a multi-purpose space combining the forms and functions of a living archive of previous projects, a social forum for topical issues, and a working studio for future construction, creating a dynamic communal learning environment.

Affection as Subversive Architecture seeks to reconfigure our understanding of social spaces and facilitate new forms of self-governance, creating the possibility for citizens to participate in the constructing of the public sphere. Moreover, it aims to create a circular economy whereby the ethos of collective learning and sustainable building creates not just structures, but also self-empowered communities. This poetic gesture of radical collectivity aims to challenge our understanding of how places of learning are archetypically conceived, and suggest alternative forms of physically and conceptually building schools, education and knowledge.

Convened by Recetas Urbanas, Blanca Pujals, Elvira Dyangani Ose and Raúl Muñoz de la Vega


The formulation of any “urban prescription” implies an act of generosity – both from the studio and each of the individuals taking part in its development – transformed into a political gesture, establishing the condition of possibility for the generation of a social space. A space that defies what was originally imposed by the political powers that regulate the public administration. A social space that vindicates our capacity to intervene, our participation role, our responsibility in the decision making process, our capacity as active agents of change. All the while, as Cirugeda establishes, joining citizen action and quality democratic management.

– Excerpt from Elvira Dyangani Ose and Raúl Muñoz de la Vega in conversation in Usted está aquí, Recetas Urbanas, 2018.

Images: Recetas Urbanas: Affection as Subversive Architecture Project Documentation. Courtesy of the The Showroom


Affection as Subversive Architecture is the inaugural project of our transdisciplinary programme Radical Citizenship: The Showroom Summit , including exhibitions, performances and workshops culminating in an international summit. Projects within this programme engage with socio-political, theoretical and artistic processes for the reinvention of agency and self-governance within the given environment of our contemporary cities. Radical Citizenship: The Showroom Summit is a cooperation project between The Showroom and Goethe-Institut within the framework of the Echoes of the South Atlantic project promoting collaborative art production in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and South America.

The participation of Recetas Urbanas in this exhibition is supported by Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) through a Mobility Grant in their Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (PICE).


Recetas Urbanas is a design and advocacy collective of architects, lawyers and social workers led by Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda and Alice Attout, who joined in 2008. The collective is based in Seville, Spain and brings to life self-built projects that rely on local participation to realise mobile structures using locally sourced, second and third-hand materials. Their work activates different areas of urban reality globally, from creating temporary sites for community discussion with shipping containers and architectural prostheses, to implementing new social housing models in collaboration with local governments. These projects are highly functional yet legally provocative, often challenging the lawfulness surrounding the occupation of public space.

Since its founding in 2003, Recetas Urbanas has worked internationally with over 2,500 individuals, hailing from different social backgrounds, abilities and ages. They have undertaken collaborative projects around the world including Usted está aquí, Fundación Luis Seoane, A Coruña and MUSAC, León (2018); Basilea, Art Basel with Creative Time (2018); Montaña Verde, Antwerp Baroque Festival (2018); The Right to Illegality, Venice Biennale of Architecture (2016); and HoW – House of Words, Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Arts (2015), amongst others.

  1. 1421670671refi011gitretzevents06
    Video Recetas Urbanas: The Tretzevents Self-building Workshop

  2. 1478698284refi014gaulaconvivencia16
    Video Recetas Urbanas: Conviviality Room Project – Mum, when I grow up I want to build like you

  3. 1550178099refh013gi12
    Video Recetas Urbanas: Green Mountain

  4. A3_paper_sam_7324_mod
    Text 'How to "Host" History-Making' by Katherine Finerty

  5. 'you_are_here'_by_recetas_urbanas__2018-1
    Text 'Affection as a Subversive Architectural Form' - Elvira Dyangani Ose and Raúl Muñoz de la Vega in conversation

  6. Ru_-_hu_-_cartel_montaje_-_(70_x_100_cm)
    Event Digital Digging: Recetas Urbanas's Data Sheets

  7. A0_poster_cartel_obra_website
    Event [POSTPONED] In-conversation: Affection As Subversive Architecture

  8. Img-1448
    Event [POSTPONED] Working Group 1: Right To Build – Children as Makers and Users