Fusing these creative fields might attract critics. Indeed an adversity to it floats in popular consciousness as a quotation: “writing about music is like dancing about architecture—it’s a really stupid thing to want to do.” New voices from Portugal’s architecture scene have, however, questioned this division. In five interventions submitted to the city of Guimarães’ Performance Architecture competition, they proposed new ways to experience places and of involving people in designing their cities.

The competition asked the teams of artists, designers and architects to use performance art approaches to reinvigorate a selection of Guimarães’ public spaces. Through the installations, it tempted the town’s population into discussions with the practices of placemaking and architecture. A sound generator, domes made of shirts, fountain games, agricultural mountains and a cement machine were chosen to temporarily morph the city in summer of 2012.

Playland pool - by Dinis Sottomayor
Playland pool – by Dinis Sottomayor
Playland pool – by Dinis Sottomayor

In the elegant Construction with Clothes, Dantiope used the physical and associated softness of hanging clothing as medium for architectural structures. These colorful domes—using second-hand clothing as primary building materials—were elaborately strung up to create the illusion of a floating canopy. Moved by the wind and bleached by the sun, the series of dome-shaped hangings was subject to gradual and continual change—constantly improvised and in flux while reacting to nature.

Agricultural Mountain by Grupo IUT, a pyramid built from bales of straw, recalled historic farming practices and reordered a public space. Bodyphonic by DOSE collective installed a variety of specially created ‘instruments’ in a scaffolding-turned-jungle gym frame. For Fountain Hacks, LIKEarchitects and fashion designer Ricardo Dourado converted public fountains into small pools and lounge areas with beach chairs, garden furniture and toys. Unidade by Pedrita and Ricardo Jacinto involved pedestrians in a bit of exercise to create new cement benches for the streets of Guimarães. The machine they created rigs three bicycles to a cement mixer; the cement is churned and then poured by the combined power of the bikers into molds.

CONSTRUCTION WITH CLOTHES by DANTIOPE
CONSTRUCTION WITH CLOTHES by DANTIOPE
CONSTRUCTION WITH CLOTHES by DANTIOPE

Without lavish budgets and by using simple tactics, the Performance Architecture interventions brought an interactivity to Guimarães. Each project made the city residents aware of their role in creating their own space. Will these inventive approaches steer architecture away from its permanence and towards a harmony with change? What do you think?

Get a closer look at these installations in our photo gallery.

Headerimage: BODYPHONIC by DOSEcollective