Phase 3b – CR[e]ATE LAB



This project placed on the district of San Antón in Alicante aims to use the derelict spaces as platforms to reinforce the links between unjointed communities inside the neighborhod and highlight his characteristics to attract new inhabitants, customers and citizens. The neighbborhod has a list of characteristics that makes this neighborhood unique in the city, due to his isolation, not only phisical, also political. San Anton, in addition with Santa Cruz, are both the last neighborhoods wich presents a very intense link between the living space and the street, what is traduced to a high diversity of intimal situations of understand the urban space and a list of urban hacks to occupy the remaining empty spaces in their narrow streets.


As we analyzed in previous phases, the neighborhood of S.A. has a lot of weakness and strengths and the way to improve and revamp the neighborhood and positioning it into the competetive scene of the city its to develop a project to reformulate an obsolete inner system, wich is proved that is leading the neighborhood into an abandoned state.

One of the most strengths points of the neighborhood is the relationship between old neighbros living spaces and the street and the way this people understands and lives the urban space as they did far ago. So that’s why i understand the old neighbors as a senior developers, because they’re the most active people on the public space and they’re showing us the way to operate in this neighborhood without dissolve his identity.

At this point, old neighbors became as one of the main objects of the project, constructing a old-age city to grant the acitivity in theese spaces but also, forcing this spaces with other new uses to attract different communities.


In order to solve accurately the objectives proposed in the previos phase, it must be defined the mechanisms to describe how it will operate in the neighborhood. More information in the following slide.



(For further information about the references, go to References & bibliography) 


Generative systems, Why? Shape matters?
One topic of discussion was about what form takes an intervention wich must be completely democratic and is suppossed to not be a blocked and prestablished form. The shape should be like something amorphous, something abstract that people takes and modifies as they needs. At this point, i looked back to open creative games like “minecraft” and their system to operate and what i found at the beginning of the creative process of this games were wild natural forms and the human creative forces are what transforms this wild nature forms into new structures.

(Example of initial nature state of Minecraft videogame)

So at this point i’ve decided to work with generative systems to simulate natural patterns of the nature. Sometimes are mechanisms pretty simple like voxelize a curved surface but not ever is quite simple and it needs to iterative systems of aggregation.

But there are something more to highlight, and it’s the importances of how it works the creativity throught mimesis, and how this patterns of natural growth could be an example to operate in the plots for users.


Cellular automata
C.A. is a discrete model  designed to analyse growth patterns of cells in a orthogonal grid with an specific rules of survival. In this short video you can watch how cellular automata is also called “Jhon Conway’s game of life” and how it is able to develop natural growths as it happens in the nature and also, other phenomenoms like movement or reproduction.

Rules of generation

  1. Any live cell with fewer than two live neighbours dies, as if caused by under-population
  2. Any live cell with two or three live neighbours lives on to the next generation.
  3. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies, as if by overcrowding.
  4. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell, as if by reproduction.

(Example of iterative and interactive growth between different initial seeds in Grasshopper. Own source.)

Seeds iterative growth research
The first steps to approach to an algorithmic design of the empty plots was starting a research of how much seeds are and look for types or species families. I’ve found a huge list of seeds (in fact, there are infinite) but i’ve picked the most common known to analyse their growth and start to choose the ones wich are more interesting to create specific spatial situations in the empty plots. Also, there are three families that, in my opinion, are very interesting to create architectural forms. This three families : “methuselah“, “sawtooth” and “wick“.

(Press on the picture to view full size)

Iterative and interactive growth research
This step introduced a new level of complexity in the algorithmic desing but, in front of that, this new complexity added to the design new capabilities to create new spatial situations. This new develops started to create new paths to pass across the structure, convergent vertical structures, covered spaces, different scales, different widths, caves.

Every interaction analysis was made over 12 iterations, measuring more or less a total height of 3,6m and the 0,6m plus of the roof, a total height of 4,2m.

(Press on the picture to view full size)



The script is divided in three methods of generation of the initial natural shape:
1) Voxelization of natural curved landscapes (terrain)
2) Cellular Aggregation system based in C.A. algorithms (vertical structures)
3) Metaballs to simulate the cellular aggregation of cellular shapes in a plane (roof)

In addition, there are 2 systems to distribute and locate the green blocks and the movable blocks.
1) The green blocks are distributed by a random patern selecting how much levels are wanted to use, counting from the top.
2) The movable blocks are metaballs placed in the terrain. This means with this its possible to predict what voids will be, where and what shape will have.

I’m sharing my script with everyone who are interested HERE


This first intervention answers to a list of near local controversies of this location (Intersection between C/Paraiso and C/Nueva Baja) but also on general controversies of the neighborhood.

This location it’s characterised by a high pedestrian activity due the intersection between the pedestrian stairs and the street C/Nueva baja, the most active in the inner part of the neighborhood, but in opposition of that, in front of the empty plot is a bar with huge problem of shortage of customers, besides the plot is placed the Racó Fogueril wich are very small to harbour association meetings or children activities (while it is doing for now) and the Asociación Deportiva wich needs a terrace.

But not focussing only in commerce and associations, this street (by the way, as the same in others) is one of the most occupied by urban hacks like tables on parking places or chairs in the sidewalks, wich means the need of a platform to hold this public activity.

This platform must have the capability to construct urban furniture to meet small group of neighbors, as chairs, armchairs, sofas and more but also, could transform into bleachers to sit down in a vertical terrain and enjoy the sundaying besides the gardening spaces or maybe gather people from the racó fogueril to perform a meeting.

Nearby controversies
– The need of a space to let old-womens met and chat (Old women neighbors)
– A bar terrace (Bar Lolo)
– A public space to organize meetings outside (Racó fogueril)

General controversies
– Incorporation of green spaces
– Configuration of the spaces as a children playground to enjoy and discover
– Work as an urban attractor in union with the intersection of pedestrian and vehicle streets
– Capabilities to get transformed into extension of the living space (Dinning table, etc)

 (Press on the picture to view full size)

Process of construction by levels. The boxes are fixed with bridles as the diagram shows.

(Press on the picture to view full size)

(Press on the picture to view full size)


This second intervention is more focused on working as a platform to performing activities but also to hold outdoor typical activities of the neighborhood.
This empty plot are located near the first intervention, so as the other have solved many local controversies, this intervention works on a wider range and it’s mainly focussed on larger activities than the intervention 1.

Nearby controversies
– A space to perform Spanish Zarzuelas (Peña Lírica)
-A large space to harbor the local festivities (A. Deportiva)
– A space to perform pilate classes for old people (C.Fisioterapia Hospital del rey)
– A space to make poetry lectures (El farolito)

General controversies
– Incorporation of green spaces
– Configuration of the spaces as a children playground to enjoy and discover
– Work as an urban attractor in union with the intersection of pedestrian and vehicle streets
– Capabilities to get transformed into extension of the living space (Dinning table, etc)


(Press on the picture to view full size)

Process of construction by levels. The boxes are fixed with bridles as the diagram shows.

(Press on the picture to view full size)


(Press on the picture to view full size)


The materiality of the project was focused on creating a low-tech modular system of attachment.
At the beginning of the search process, the idea of crafting the modules was discarted because it will expensive the project exponentially and also, materials like wood are incompatible with platning uses due to his incompatibility with water.

Looking for references i found a phenomenom in Melbourne, where the huge population of milk crates was the reason for people to start using as a urban furniture beside the coffee shops.

(Picture of Melbourne milkcrate urban furniture)

So i’ve started to look for other case-studies and i found plastic crates as a very good element to work with aggregation systems.
Also, i contacted with some market fruit sellers who told me that in Alicante are like a collaborative deposit where everyone can take borrowed fruit boxes from there.
But the most attractive thing about all of this is the system of loan with no cost to the seller.

This system works like, whenever you need fruit products, the industry gives you as much crates as you need and you pay a security bond.
When you’re finished with the crates, you can give back to the industry and they gives you back the whole amount of the bond, so it means, a non-cost loan system of crates.


As we saw in previous phases, San Antón is a highly isolated neighborhood due to urbanistic, topographic and politic reasons. This means that we can not expect to obtain people that passes throught the neighborhood to another district. We have to construct an strategy that weight more than accesiblity aspects to achieve gather pedestrians passing through the streets of the neigborhood.

This strategy could be based on an advertisement campaign of the project using the same material as it’s used in the interventions. With crates we can create characters or also letters with attracting messages.


1) About the properties of the crate
For the following steps, it must be analyzed the properties of the box as a material element, measuring capabilities like structural behaviour or analyzing other properties like draining capabilities, durability, etc

2) Locating local controversies  to independant response
It’s needed a more deeper analyze of how it could be the modifications from the nearby neighbors in the organization structure of the crates but also, create plans to locate the nearby agents with needs.

3) Structural optimization
Its recomended to optimize the vertical structures in order to be more efficient. In so much the structure is constructed by individual parts, it could be analyzed the torque of every element of the structure in order to define what boxes will be recomendable to fill with weightty material to gain structural inertia.

4) More greening
Increase the level of greening in order to achieve better environmental benefits and create more orchards planting opportunities for more neighbors.

5) Drawings and infographics
Improve the quality of the drawings to tell much more about how the space its used and modified and analyze how the friction between uses could be like.





  • Play-Mo

Yoneda, Yuka (8 may 2011). « PlayMo: An Urban Playground Constructed of Colorful Crates in Melbourne »
Thi Pham, Lieu (8 may 2011). « Melbourne CityLeaks: an act of urban intervention»
Hill, Jhon (19 july 2011). « Half Dose #90: PlayMobil»
City_leaks. (2012). « Para architectures. An investigation of a contemporary Urban Dwelling »
Facebook. Cityleaks profile.

  • Smartcape

Ozinsky, Sheryl (unknown). «Climate smart cape town. Legacy Report»
Laylin ,Tafline (12 September 2011). « Climate Smart Cape Town’s COP 17 Pavilion is Made of 1,884 Recycled Milk Crates »
Leading Architecture (5 March  2012). « Climate Smart Cape Town Pavilion»
Facebook. Smartcape profile

  • Homebox

Afasia arquitectura (8 September 2011) « Arquitectos anónimos. Homebox. Porto. »
Arquitectos anónimos. Webpage.

  • Pimlico parade

Hatherley , Owen (20 May  2010). « Parades Go By »
Critical practice. (2011). « Parades, Public modes of assembly and form of address »
Wasilkowska, Ola (2011) « Assemblage in public »
Piasecki, Michal (2011) « Assemblage in public »


Hawick, Ken (unknown). « Diffusion Limited Aggregation Models »
Wojtowicz, Mirek (unknown) « What is Life and Cellular Automata? »
Wikipedia (15 January 2014) « Cellular automaton »
Wikipedia (26 dic 2013) « Autómata Celular » (Spanish)
Wikipedia (26 January 2014) « Conway’s game of life »’s_Game_of_Life
Wikipedia 12 nov 2013) « Juego de la vida » (Spanish)
Lifewiki (17 February 2009) « Game of life patterns »


Facebook. «Where is Crateman »
This Blog Rules. « Huge crate man invades australia »
Hipgrave, Alex. «park[ing]day group 6»
Improvised Life. «Portable Milk Crate Farm (D-I-Y), For Roof, Terrace, Lot »
Milkcrate digest
01 uses of a milk crate


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