Conceived in response to an open call for submissions to Concéntrico, the International Architecture and Design Festival in Logroño, Spain, Agoraflex offers a versatile venue for festival activities, as well as fostering informal interactions and provoking discussion on the challenges of coming together in the City during and after the forced fragmentation of 2020-21.
The act of gathering is inherent to the City, the gathering of people but also of goods, ideas and experiences. It is what distinguishes the City from the strip mall, the anonymous distribution centre. This principle is reflected in the prominent squares and plazas at the centre of our cities, the keystones of the urban realm, tracing back to the Ancient Greek ‘Agora’ – literally ‘gathering place’ – at the centre of civic life. In considering civic space during a pandemic, Agoraflex provides a flexible gathering place.
Visitors to Agoraflex – citizens of this flexible civic space – would be invited to literally take their seats, to pick up and move the coloured panels to suit the size of their group. A simple rule provides a framework for social distancing – space for one seat must be left empty around each group, whether a family of five or an individual. The resulting clusters offer an organic and ever-changing counterpoint to the regular intervals of the tiers, columns and brackets. With their static rhythm, these latter elements are motifs for proscribed social distancing, measures for acknowledging the proximity of others, though – as we have seen during the pandemic – this is rarely how people will distribute themselves.