Images by Guillermo Fernández Villar

From the Big Screens to the Streets: Can Fashion Be A Cultural Activity?

More and more of our life has moved online, and our sense of community has changed as forums move online. In Madrid, Cinemas and Theaters in Gran Via and Sol areas, are reopening as shops after being bought by fast fashion brands. One of our stars from the Architect-US Pool of Talents, Guillermo Fernandez Villar, seeks to promote more community engagement in the local fashion industry by redefining the ways in which these cultural gems are repurposed. These spaces that used to provide the community with shared experiences and knowledge are being repurposed for mass consumption without regard for the local fashion community.

 As the world changes around us and the community forum moves online, many of the brick and mortar cultural centers that represent Madrid are being left behind or renovated to serve different purposes. Cinemas and theaters in Gran Via and Sol areas, located in Madrid’s center, have closed and have reopened as shops after being bought by fast fashion brands like H&M, Zara or Mango. These large, revamped buildings are being repurposed for fashion stores due to their central location and large uninterrupted spaces. Yet they also provide these multi-billion dollar companies with the venue and stage they need to promote their low-priced clothing to the masses. In doing so, the cultural centers are being repurposed to promote mass consumption that is not tied to the community.


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Guillermo Fernandez Villar, under Izaskun Chinchilla‘s supervision at San Pablo CEU University has studied the particular case of Albeniz Theater and brought with him a fresh and intelligent strategy that got him the Honorable Mention from EPS San Pablo CEU. Guillermo, an Architect-US participant seeking his dream job in the USA, has a programmatic commitment that connotes an enormous coherence, adaptation to the context and capacity for social innovation. Guillermo analyzes and assumes how the great cultural contenders of the center of Madrid are being bought and transformed by large clothing sales chains. An architect should always be able to adapt their work to the context and capacity for social innovation. The land price in the city center makes cultural activity unsustainable whereas the textile market needs to benefit from the condition of centrality. Villar promoted the idea of a clothing buying and selling program at the Albeniz Theater. In doing so, the cultural aspects and social dynamics are introduced while providing local designers with the platform to show their work. In the Albeniz Project he used Rhinoceros, Vray, and Photoshop to complete these beautiful drawings.
The fashion community in Madrid is always looking for ways to present their work in accessible and easy ways. With the advent of fast fashion brands, the supply chain has moved to the global level, and provided affordable style. Yet these lower costs afforded by global supply chains makes it harder for local designers to compete. Not only this, but the venues that small, local designers are usually able to access are no where near the size of Zara’s. Now architects in Madrid are calling for these cultural gems to be used for community focused purposes. Guillermo has joined in to answer these calls, and provide his solution for these static spaces to become dynamic, community-centered spaces.


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Instead of selling clothing for a single and powerful chain, the creation of a multi-brand fashion center, where established brands may have their own sales areas and emerging producers appear in a street market format. By introducing a co-working for designers it helps with the process of design and production of fashion becoming transparent and pedagogical. Architecture plays the role of preserving the past while also providing a space for the future to grow and create their own ideas for community improvement and social interaction.

How would you redesign your local theater to provide a the fashion community with a market? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below!! 👇👇👇

Photos by Guillermo Fernandez Villar

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