Al Jazeera English / Rebel Architecture: Guerrilla Architect

Documentary for the Aljazeera English Rebel Architecture series

Santiago Cirugeda is a subversive architect from Seville who has dedicated his career to reclaiming urban spaces for the public.

With his expert knowledge of urban planning legislation, Santiago is not afraid to “occupy”, or squat, abandoned space and to use his knowledge of the law to enable community building.
“Self-building hasn’t been legalised in Spain, so any architect taking on this problem has to take on civil and criminal liability,” he says, referring to the logistical issues he faces whilst working on the edges of the law.
“Sometimes we do things that are illegal, but we’re not doing anyone any harm. On the contrary, we’re doing it to benefit more people. The decision to work illegally means a different approach.”

His buildings are often fast-build, mobile structures made from recycled materials. Design for Cirugeda is about matching available materials with the skills of those keen to build it. The key is that they serve a social function, which Santiago thinks contemporary architecture has lost sight of in its obsession with the aesthetic.

We follow him as he takes on his biggest task yet, saving a huge abandoned cement factory, and negotiating with the authorities to let his National Architects’ Collective turn it into a vibrant cultural centre.

Duration: 25 minutes

Director: Ana Naomi de Sousa

D.O.P: Woody James

Editor: Cesar Caldito

Executive Producer: Daniel Davies

Commissioning Editor: Flora Gregory

First Broadcast: September 2014, Al Jazeera English

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