Santiago Cirugeda

Santiago Cirugeda is a subversive architect from Seville, Spain, whose work focusses on reclaiming urban spaces for public use.

Undeterred by legal constraints, Santiago Cirugeda develops self-built projects that modify or transform under-utilised parts of the city so that people can inhabit them.

Cirugeda’s work is partly in response to Europe’s austere financial environment that has left thousands of office buildings empty and dramatically slowed down large-scale development.

After seven years of working on his own, Cirugeda founded the Recetas Urbanas architectural studio in 2003. The buildings he designs are often fast-build, mobile structures made from recycled materials for specific and temporary situations. As such, they are all reversible.

An activist architect, he uses his expert knowledge of urban planning legislation to find ways around the legal system – from the systematic occupation of public spaces using containers to the construction of prostheses for facades, backyards, roofs and empty lots.

He is now working together with local governments to implement new housing models for the socially disadvantaged.

Born in 1971, Cirugeda studied architecture at the University of Seville and the Barcelona School of Architecture.

In 2007 he published Situaciones Urbanas (University of Chicago Press), which presents 14 interventions that challenge the status quo of the modern metropolis by inventing proposals for a more liveable city. He has also written many articles; taught workshops and given lectures, seminars and conferences in schools and universities; and has participated in solo and group exhibitions worldwide.