Elii 123 · Wires, black boxes and urban fetishes

123 · Wires, black boxes and urban fetishes
by elii

The palace as seen by… elii
Comisariado y Diseño expositivo para la exposición ‘Wires, black boxes and urban fetishes’, CentroCentro, Madrid

Since its foundation as a Communications Palace a hundred years ago, Cibeles Palace has served as the setting for many different lives and has often been the focus of gazes. This series of exhibitions, El Palacio visto por… (The Palace as Seen by…) arises from that idea of gazing, of reading from different points of view. Every year, we invite different artists and architects to create an exhibition that includes an informative tour through the archives and history of the building, and to propose a personal reading of the palace. The architecture office elii has participated in this edition of El Palacio visto por…
After studying the tender and construction documents for the Palace of Communications, elii has been able to confirm the disappearance, during the building process, of a fundamental element: the wires that were drawn on the plans that architects Antonio Palacios and Joaquín Otamendi submitted for the tender in 1904; a network of cables that started from the central tower of the Palace and ran towards the city, passing through the pinnacles that crown the façades of the building. For elii, these wires provide evidence of the fact that, from the very beginning, the building was conceived as one of the city’s infrastructure nodes. And they were eliminated precisely to hide the technological processes for the domination of nature that took place in modern cities. Following the trail of those wires, we will access the urban black box, an invisible city that exists beneath our feet, populated by a kind of “technological inhabitants”: wires, cables, pipes, channels, device networks, infrastructures, structures, installations, wells, cisterns, tubes, tunnels, pipelines, sanitary conduits, sewers, drains, culverts, galleries, communications, etc., which tirelessly and silently function so that everything works on “this side,” so that everything can be “normal.”
The exhibition is arranged as an array of texts and images supported by a series of tensile structures, formed by two main elements. First, a matrix of pinnacles; a contemporary scaled version of the pinnacles that adorn the façades of the Palace. And secondly, a tensile, continuous and lightweight network of wires, that reminds us of the wires of the original sketch of the proposal. The pinnacles and the wires merge in the exhibition space just as two overlapping structures are blended in the Communications Palace. On the one hand, the heavy, monumental, historicist and allegoric structure of the façades and the fetishised spaces of the Palace. And on the other hand, superimposed on this, the lightweight, ethereal and almost imperceptible structure of the network of wires, that technological web, today invisible and turned into a black box, through which the Palace was connected with the world.
101 years after the opening of this iconic landmark, one of Madrid’s true architectural fetishes, we will cross the spaces of the Palace, guided by this group of architects, to get to the heart of the urban black box: the place where cities make a pact with nature.
From 6th February 2020 to 31st January 2021.


Graphic and museographic design: elii [oficina de arquitectura]
Architects: elii – Uriel Fogué + Eva Gil + Carlos Palacios
Architect coordinating the team: elii – Lucía Fernández
Collaborators: elii – Ana López, Raquel García, Marta Vaquero
Texts: Uriel Fogué + Eva Gil + Carlos Palacios
Coordination and Production: CentroCentro
Setting up: Santiago Santiago
Surface: 390,00m2
Date: 6th February 2020– 31st January 2021
Location: CentroCentro, Madrid
Photography: Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero)

Architects: elii

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elii carries out its professional activity in the following fields: Infrastructures, Urban Development, Public Spaces, Individual and Collective housing, Offices and Work Centres, Industrial Buildings, Ephemeral Architecture and Design of Museum Exhibitions and collaboration with artists. Elii covers all stages of the project, from the design phase to project management, working both in the public and private sectors, in Spain and Abroad. Founded in 2006 and based in the centre of Madrid, its founding partners and current directors are the architects Uriel Fogué Herreros, Eva Gil Lopesino and Carlos Palacios Rodriguez, all of whom have previously worked in architectural firms of international renown. They currently combine their work at elii with teaching (in several Spanish universities of international renown) and editorial work (UHF magazine). Their work and articles have appeared in specialized publications and exhibitions, having obtained recognition and awards for outstanding performance, amongst which are the FAD Opinion Award (2005), or the awards received from the Official College of Architects of Madrid “a la Obra Bien Hecha”(2006), “a la Obra de los Arquitectos” (2011), and “COAM Award” (2013) or the JustMad Award to Emergent Creativity (2013). They have been amongst those selected to appear in the “Arquia Próxima” catalogue (also issued by the Official College of Architects of Madrid) in its 2006-207, 2008-2009, 2010-2011 issues, having been recognized in this last one as one of the 10 most relevant teams of young architects in the region. They have also taken part in the “Madrid 100% Arquitectura II” (2011), catalogue and Itinerant International Exhibition, where one of their works was considered one of the top 100 by the Official College of Architects of Madrid. They were also similarly distinguished in the XII Buenos Aires International Biennial Architecture Exhibition (2011), recently selected as one of the “100 architects of the year 2012” in the exhibition for the KIA Korean Institute of Architects and the UIA International Union of Architects in Seoul (2012) and as a part of the exhibition FreshLatino 2 (2013). Elii is a member of the “Creadores de Madrid” and “FreshMadrid” archives.