Critical Practice
Valladolid, ES

MONTAJE is a cooperative for architectural production. From a peripheral condition, its practice is characterized by pragmatism, political ecology, commitment to the territory and critical formalism, focusing on non-urban sites, spatial design, curating, teaching and research. It was co-founded by Saúl Alonso and Andrés Carretero.


The formalisation of MONTAJE

We began working together in 2012 on finishing our undergraduate degree after winning a scholarship for artistic production. Then, as is now, the socioeconomic and political context was quite adverse. As a result, we continued our education, as we still do, using our time to collaborate in diverse offices. Throughout these years, we have won multiple competitions and open calls which contributed to our will to become self-sustaining. In 2018, this crystallised in the formalisation of MONTAJE - cooperative infrastructure of architectural production. Our studio is an infrastructure, a medium for autonomous production with other agents, experts and non-experts of other disciplines transversal to architecture.


Winning some and losing some

A competition that we won, El Parque de la Cava (Roa, Burgos, 2015), an intervention that concerns public space as well as an old, unused, rural endowment. A competition that we lost, Infraestructura–Superestructura (Barcelona, 2016), that was then reformulated as an exhibition project and keeps feeding new lines of work. Two stories, two tipping points that have helped to define our positioning: on the one hand, the dismounting of material, the environmental aspect, and the reprogramming of the existing; on the other hand, the affective distance between the value judgments issued by third parties, and not to close roads but rather open them towards the outskirts.


In search for an efficient balance

No more heroes. The dissolution of the borders between personal and professional life only makes their differentiation and conciliation more difficult. The mornings are dedicated to teaching, research and writing and the evenings to work at the studio with the necessary exceptions: meetings, conferences, travel, etc. Our work days are usually quite long and habitually colonise the weekends. In any case, we are searching for an efficient work organisation with the objective of liberating time for productive routines and sustain a good life.


A non-hierarchical structure

As we have just pointed out, the problem of production does not lie so much in the management of space, rather in time: time reconciliation and online connectivity. We occupy a small duplex that belonged to a former teacher: the lower level is more spacious, flexible and domestic, while the upper level is more private and hosts meetings with collaborators and clients. Our internal organization is horizontal and non-hierarchical. We are a minimum cell made up of two partners among which tasks are distributed equally, taking into account the agenda, interests and competences of each. The organisational complexity increases with the collaborations that characterise our modus operandi.


Moving on from past expectations

These past years of systemic crisis have served us to amplify our consciousness about the collective bourgeois imagination, associated with the solitary figure of the architect as a liberal professional, a mode of production that toys with extinction beyond a point-of-no-return, given that the market has retracted and now comprises of great transnational corporations. Past expectations neither exist nor will return; they have been devoured by reality and its material conflicts. The future of architectural practice will pass necessarily onto a transdisciplinary cooperativism capable of dealing with emergencies of the present such as inequality and climatic collapse, among others.


Laying out long-term objectives

As we said, there are no heroic aspirations. Our objectives are transversed by pragmatism, ecological politics and a compromise with the territory wherein we operate:

Retracting a grounded praxis and knotted at a local and concrete level.

Prioritise the public sector, social housing, endowment equipment, and problems of our region as we explored with depopulation through our recent project Campos (MUSAC, 2019-2020).

Resisting and professionalising our practice little by little and incrementing its sustainability.

To be more: bring in more partners to MONTAJE, amplify our workforce, and definitely to gain a greater capacity for intervention.

retrato min

Photography Juan Carlos Quindós de la Fuente

3 min

1 copy min

campos2 Andres Carretero Mieres min

efimeras Andres Carretero Mieres min

Photography Courtesy of MONTAJE

a project powered by Itinerant Office

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