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Full Paper | La Vie dei Mercanti X Forum Internazionale di Studi | Napoli Capri | José Javier Gallardo | Professor School of Engineering and Architecture UNIZAR

URBAN PROSPECTION NETWORK | What is all this about?

 I will tell you a story, starting with three issues that must be considered:

The first issue to be considered is that “ARCHITECTURE SHOULD BE ATTRACTIVE or SEXY”!

I like architecture that makes people think. Architecture only becomes attractive when it reveals unsuspected feelings or uses, besides the ones directly depending on the program. The same happens to people: to be sexy means to reveal only the minimum to attract!

The second issue is “THE ESSENTIAL”!

The essential to understand that intelligence and concept must precede the simultaneous interaction between space and form.

The essential to discover a concept: the ‘figurative quality’ that depends on the technological conditions on which the form is constructed and is, in turn, a form generator at the level of the detail.

The essential to relate concept, form, space and architectural figuration with the function: by building flexible containers that present permeability and connections with the surroundings or through the recovery of lost public space. That means that a building does not only respond to functional and intended uses, but rather provides links to enable urban connections, offering to the city a wealth of surprises and unplanned encounters.

And, the last one, the essential to pursue functional sustainability: interlocking programs, independently or simultaneously activated and, together with it, to find the social and/or cultural return in relation to the economic resources invested.

The final issue to be considered is MY HOUSE and what it means to me…I have recently finished the construction of my family single house: an illusion and an obsession at the same time. I have just enjoyed the climax that any colleague of the profession would envy.


Based on these issues, what is the outcome of the story, knowing that contemporary urban and economical conditions are not the best ones for architects?


My job as City Council architect and teacher at Zaragoza University led to a new professional route under what is “Architecture”: I propose other professional activity plans, through the recently founded urban.prospection.network, which provides solutions through the reuse of unused buildings, with minimal resources, creating links with the urban context: well, summing up, an ‘urban creative laboratory’ converted into a non-profit organization!


In April 2011, a working group participated by the University of Zaragoza and the University of San Jorge in Zaragoza, was established in order to develop the projects proposed by the Town Council, under the name of “Projects Prospection Workshop.”

The goal was the development of projects, through the recovery of unused spaces for cultural purposes.

The workshop was divided into two working groups and headed by ME!:

  • The Scientific Committee composed of experts in urban planning and urban sociology, in order to develop the urban diagnosis concerning strategy and public space.
  • The Projects Development Team, formed by young architects, as university teachers at both Universities in Zaragoza, and two younger architects from Madrid and Oporto.

The work resulted in maps of data and its connections with the city of Zaragoza, for further development of the projects; these were published in the “Z Architecture” magazine.

On what concerns to the urban diagnosis:

The starting point was the development of strategies, understood as programs developed to achieve goals. The adjustment of the projects to those strategies has enabled the contemplation of tactical processes, discovering how to do it and ‘thinking about what one does.

As far as the project development is concerned, four aspects must be taken into account:

First: Conversion into diagrams | The proposed concepts became diagrams. Program analysis, simplification and exaggeration of the initial situation were brought to an outlining point where one originally only knew scattered relationships: those could now be freely discussed in terms of relations of common interest.

Second: The concept | The recovery of unused buildings has been imagined as permeable, allowing high-level relations with the surrounding flows. In this way, each building would coexist with its troubled situation and not attempt to order it, but allow things to happen there.

Third: The actions | Actions have been understood as “bottom-up processes” or renewal from below, less institutionalised, more real and allowing to “think about what one does.” The initiatives have led to social outreach and community work.

Fourth: Economic efficiency and patrimonial revitalisation | The reuse of abandoned buildings has pursued further goals, namely: the functional sustainability, the forecast of future maintenance costs and, together with it, the social and/or cultural returns in relation with the financial resources invested.


After that, the opportunity to develop the “Projects Prospection Workshop” resulted in the creation of the urban.prospection.network, a cultural and non-profit institution, with national and International public projection, which I founded in 2011.

The urban.prospection.network aims to encourage and promote sustainable development of communities through the creativity of young professionals. Aimed at cultural management, employment for young graduates and impulse of social participation, the urban.prospection.network directs its field of study and action to sustainable processes of recovery and recycling of content and Concepts.

Its conceptual basis is the reoccupation of abandoned urban structures, its connections with the public space and the realization of cultural and social events. It is an urban laboratory conceived as a network where professionals from multiple technical, artistic and scientific practices offer expertise in “creative urban intervention”, in order to cooperate in the development of urban areas through multidisciplinary projects at various scales.

 Our approach to the urban contexts is based on two special characteristics:

  • Unlike what happened in the “projects prospection workshop”, at the urban.prospection.network, the four powers (administrative, creative, educational and business), that should take part in any process of urban management, are linked to each other, to develop opportunities involving a general exchange of inputs and benefits.
  • The urban.prospection.network proposes and leads opportunities and urban management processes, organizing the teamwork of the four powers, looking for social participation and community work.

How does that happen?

  • To arrive (at a place), To live there, To occupy and To activate (working opportunities), is the method of implementation of the urban.prospection.network.

Under its development as a national and international organization looking for opportunities for prospection and urban management, the pilot program is taking place at Calatayud (Zaragoza), through the creative.factory.1|calatayud.

Actions or transformer effects in the city of Calatayud.

Calatayud came as an opportunity to define what the urban.prospection.network working method is:

First | To arrive at Calatayud: THE OPPORTUNITY itself, that allows to work there!

Second | To live: Multiple actions are being developed in order to allow the reuse of the former Water House as the residence of the urban.prospection.network team, starting from the spring of 2012.

Third | To occupy: two wagons of a 1965 train, located in the “Railway Station Park” will be recovered to use as workplace and visible representation of the urban.prospection.network in Calatayud.

Fourth | To activate: The first opportunities for immediate development are shown in the image displayed.

I would like to finish telling you that this situation has been made possible through the signature of a collaboration agreement, in February of this year, between the urban.prospection.network, the City of Calatayud and the University of Zaragoza.Thank you very much for your time and attention.