Simulacro, a new installation by Portuguese architect Pedro Henrique Nunes Silva, aims to awaken the senses and imagination of passers-by in the heart of the city of Santa Maria da Feira, Portugal, where the Caster River runs every day. “Like him, we walk past the city without observing it,” explains the founder of the Portuguese studio. “This is an unconscious act common to all of us that manage ourselves by a schedule, activity, commitment, or purpose.”
During the design process, the studio rediscovers the course of this river that unravels the core of one of the oldest blocks of the city. This core reveals what we dare to call non-place because it is not the result of a plan of its own but rather the result of everything that happens around it.
“This non-place has both remnant and potentiality and therefore we intend to temporarily transform it into an (ephemeral) space, giving it conditions to create permanence,” says Pedro Henrique. “Therefore, the first goal of this intervention is to transform non-place into an ephemeral space of being.”
This ephemeral space causes permanence that triggers observation and contemplation. “When we allow ourselves to truly observe, we allow ourselves to understand what surrounds us, to imagine about this reality, to form criticism, to reflect,” continues Henrique. “To do so, we put an accessible safety net over the river. Once in the net, the public is hovering over the river – a natural reflector that generates innumerable points of view. Each of them can be a different trigger of thoughts and therefore of criticism and reflection.”
Simulacro (it could be reality) starts from the vision of a group of architects who, through the discipline of architecture intend to transform non-place into an ephemeral space and foster reflection and criticism about the public’s claim of public space.