Ana Penalba

Residency date(s): October 28 – December 12, 2013
Exhibition: Opens Thursday, December 12 through December 23, 2013
Learning Lab: Colorado I Have A Dream Foundation
Check out her ongoing work with the youth at

Spatial Agreements
Experimental drawings, structures and animated architectural forms
Opening December 12, 5:30 – 8 pm

Watch InFocus with Eden Lane as she interviews the Ana Penalba and the youth for this project.

Spatial Agreements, is an experimental body of work that questions the traditional role of the architect and architecture in our culture. Spanish born and trained, Penalba believes that collaborative action is imperative in the creative process of designing and building livable, vital and sustainable cities. Penalba states: We cannot keep destroying buildings and replacing them. We have what we need.  It’s a matter of redefining the existing through an understanding of the space, more than just the vertical and horizontal. Instead of destroying objects, it is time to show their many possibilities. Applying this capacity to many other areas of the city would help us look at things differently, appreciate all that surrounds us, end the destruction, and instead add temporal layers of need.

Rejecting the traditional model of “form follows function” in the design process, she reverses the methodology in this work to three actions: exploration, contextualization and occupation. Exploration uses existing objects as a starting point for discovering possible new forms. She then re-contextualizes (re-purposes) these objects through animation, discovering opportunities for architectural forms and functions. What is learned through animation becomes the platform for the final stage she calls occupation. It is here, in the architectural drawings, that people inhabit the forms, living, working and creating vibrant communities. Thus, in her creative process, function follows form. To glimpse her process while in residence, please visit Spatial Agreements.

Exhibiting with the artist is the work of students from Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation Records-Rainaldi Class who have been guided by Penalba in creating an imaginary Denver, redefining the existing city to express their vision of what could be. Through a series of discussions and 3D studies the students spent the past six weeks working through creative methods that would aid them in communicating their thoughts and ideas to create a final model titled A City For Us. The students analyzed Denver as we know it and developed ideas for improvements based on what the city is lacking and where it could be improved. The ideas for improvements range from whimsical to practical, and sometimes both, as seen in the structures created by Angel Rios, “I added more colors, creativity, and safety, I decided to make these changes by seeing what our society lacks, which is creativity and safety. In one park I added more sculptures, and I gave the streets more lamps which helps the drivers and everyone see better. It shows that Denver has safety but at the same time we can be goofy and creative.” Together they took these visions for a new Denver and created not only a city that speaks to them but one that could be enjoyed by all. From a new elevated train system to purple mountains majesty A City For Us shows us that together anything is possible.

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Click the images to see them animated.

Artist Statement Ana Penalba
My work is continuous research that explores the mission that Architecture serves, envisioning Architecture as a state of debate where there is not an aesthetic goal, neither a homogeneous format of representation, nor an understanding of Architecture as the final mission for the construction of an object. I am interested in the unpredictable condition that Architecture carries to make its meaning, goal, and media modifiable to adapt its usefulness for thinking. I defend its content as a practice for moving sensibilities through the exploration of questions that challenge quotidian attitudes searching for new responses to what is assumed as “standard” through controversial actions. Move mentalities, develop images that suggest everything should be re-thought to find new alternatives; some will be successful, others not, but that is not the issue: what is important is the Architectural Experiment itself, the goal of restoring Architecture to the service of the mind, to the service of society, to the service of thinking. Penalba has received national and international awards and competitions, exhibited and published internationally and currently works with Terreform as an Urban Architect Researcher.