Elii 119 · Cyborg Garden

Elii 119 · Cyborg Garden

Strategies for adapting to climate change
Display design for the exhibition ‘Cyborg Garden – Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives’, Matadero Madrid

“Your attention please. You are now entering the Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives. A platform for generating knowledge and artworks as a means to address the challenges presented by the climate crisis in the 21st century. A place for communicating with other species, for learning from ants and many-headed slime mould and for talking with humans who have not as yet been born.
We invite you, firstly, to a preview of the prototypes of the future Cyborg Garden now being developed by a team of artists, designers, architects, scientists and specialists in various fields and which will soon be planted in Matadero Madrid.
After that, you will be able to visit the exhibition Eco-visionaries. Art for a Planet in a State of Emergency, in which over 40 creators tackle climate change through art.
We also encourage you to take part in the various activities that will be held in this mutant space over the coming four months.

Audio at the entrance of the exhibition

The exhibition ‘Cyborg Garden – Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives’ shows the preliminary results of research done by an inter-disciplinary team of specialist with a two-fold aim. First, to define strategies for adapting to climate change in public spaces, to be materialized in the ‘plantation’ of a Cyborg Garden at Matadero Madrid. Second, to analyze the stance of art with respect to the environmental crisis and how art can contribute to broadening imaginaries and ecosystem narratives through the Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives (IMNA).
– The Cyborg Garden is a coral process in which a group of artists led by a team of technical experts from different disciplines develops a set of creative processes to try out strategies for adapting to climate change that enhance the resilience of public spaces and make Matedero Madrid a desirable venue. The Cyborg Garden will be a testing ground to experiment with ways for humans and non-humans to co-exist. It will entice visitors to make other use of the open spaces. Why a Cyborg Garden? On one hand, a garden is a meeting-place for different kinds of species as well as a venue for enjoyment, desire, and care. On the other, the cyborg dimension lets us imagine the relationship between nature and technology as spheres that must necessarily be thought out continuously, like a hybrid relation. Currently, Matadero finds itself in the limelight of an urban “island of color”: a space that undergoes temperature extremes for months on end on account of its layout and material configuration. The projects featured in this display are the first entries in this project that will turn Matadero Madrid into a laboratory for trying out Nature Based Solutions and that will culminate in a set of repeatable prototypes in other areas of the city.
– The Mutant Institute for Environmental Narratives was founded for the purpose of assessing the role of imaginaries, myths, traditions, and desires articulating our society in constructing the discourse on climate change. It suggests that we make a critical revision of them and proposes strategies that help create other environmental narratives beyond the ones traditionally linked to the environment. IMNA proposes artistic endeavors in connection with other fields of knowledge that overflow classical disciplines to take on the planetary issues (cultural, political, scientific, technological, or arising from communication processes) of the climate crisis from collective intelligence and social innovation. Their main lines of actuation are presented in the exhibition through a set of works by artists and a program of activities that range from citizen science actuations and workshops on climate speculation to performance art and even a radio show.
For both the garden and for IMNA, a group of artists has been chosen with very differing but complementary stances that, taken as a whole, cover a plural range of knowledge: in JC, UH513 from experimentation with cyborg species; Orkan Telhan, from the scaler relation between microbial reality, our bodies and the environments we inhabit; TAKK, from the questioning of the design in the Anthropocene Age. At IMNA, Paula Nishijima, who studies networks and living systems as frameworks that question the traditional division of nature vs culture; Roberta Šebjanič and her cultural realities, bio-politics, chemistry and biology of aquatic environments; Fito Conesa, from inter-species communication.
[* For a more detailed explanation of the works by the artists, for JC as well as for IMNA, see the ‘PROJECTS’ section].
A disembodied voice greets us as soon as we arrive at the exhibition, entreating us to step into the experimentation space. Once we are inside, the design of the exhibition suggests a garden of ‘species’ crisscrossed by paths that lead to the different works of art, both from Cyborg Garden and IMNA. The artworks stand out on organically arranged, light-colored slabs. Off to the sides, wavy upright elements complete the artificial environment and hold up the credits, the posters, the basic information on the activities and graphics. In the middle is a small amphitheater reminiscent of dalliances in pleasure gardens of libertine houses, but rather than flaunting a statue of Venus in the middle, this contemporary version houses an audiovisual artwork by Nishijima. The amphitheater’s furnishings are scant and versatile, and lend themselves to multiple arrangements for different activities. Its see-through enclosure arranged in blurry swaths of colors facilitates crossing visits and sets relationships between the pieces. The geometry of the seats make them stackable to optimize storage in the future.
The design prescribes a set of environmentally friendly materials such as recyclable floor tiles, PEFC-certified wood, infinitely recyclable polyamide tulles, recyclable vinyl, etc., that aim to align the construction processes with the ecosystems, thereby imbuing this indoor space with large-scale ecological programs.
The display is featured at the center for contemporary creation Matadero Madrid along with the exhibition called “ECO-VISIONARIES: Art for a planet in emergency”. Taken together, both exhbits present a set of contemporary artworks that address climate change as a crucial challenge of our time.


Cyborg Garden co-director and curator: elii [oficina de arquitectura] – Uriel Fogué, Eva Gil, Carlos Palacios
IMNA co-director and curator: Amanda Masha Caminals
Idea and co-management: Matadero Madrid
Design of the exhibition space: elii [oficina de arquitectura]
Architects: elii – Uriel Fogué + Eva Gil + Carlos Palacios
Collaborators: elii – Lucía Fernández, Ana López, Raquel García, Marta Vaquero, Mónica Palfy, Juan Mateos, Natalia Matesanz.
Graphic design: Vendedores de Humo
Cyborg Garden Project advisory group: Juan Azcárate, Luis Tejero, Rafael Ruiz, Carlos Mataix, Manuel Alméstar, Julio Lumbreras, Sara Romero, María Ángeles Huerta, Luisa Fernanda Guerra.
Fernanda Guerra
Promoters of Cyborg Garden: Plataform-A – Centro de Innovación en Tecnología para el Desarrollo Humano de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (itdUPM), el Ayuntamiento de Madrid a través del Área de Medio Ambiente y Movilidad, y Matadero Madrid, en colaboración con infinidad de agentes locales y en coproducción con instituciones internacionales.
Participating architects and artists in Cyborg Garden: uh513 [María Castellanos y Alberto Valverde] / TAKK [Mireia Luzárraga y Alejandro Muiño]/ Orkan Telhan/Double Happiness [Joyce Hwang y Nerea Feliz] / Rachel Armstrong, Rolf Hughes, Pierangelo Scravaglieri [Newcastle University] y Ioannis Ieropoulos [University of the West of England]
IMNA consultancy group: elii [oficina de arquitectura], Juan Azcárate, Luis Tejero, Rafa Ruiz, Carlos Mataix, Julio Lumbreras, Sara Romero, Manuel Alméstar, María Ángeles Huerta, Luisa Fernanda Guerra, Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS _ UCLA). Opera a través de la red de trabajo interdisciplinar Plataform-A, que reúne a un grupo internacional de artistas, diseñadores, investigadores, pensadores, científicos, ingenieros, arquitectos, responsables de políticas públicas y otros muchos agentes.
Participating artists in IMNA: Fito Conesa / Carmen Haro Barba / Episkaia / Paula Nishijima / Lois Patiño / Robertina Šebjanic / Laboratorio del Pensamiento Lúdico
Project coorindation: Eva Gonzalo, Eduardo Castillo Vinuesa, Natalia Matesanz.
Production of citizen science: Viernes Comunicación
3D modeling and design of the Inter-species Communicator:Siddharth Gautam Singh.
Other collaborators: L’Oréal, Fundación Ernesto Ventós, Audrey Dussutour del Centro de Investigación en Cognición Animal del Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) de la Universidad de Toulouse, Sara Arganda del Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid.
Producers: Matadero Madrid
Transporters: Feltrero División Arte
Set production: Solart. Soluciones en Arte
Insurance: HISCOX S.A.
Photography: Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero)

Surface: 552,30m2
Date: 13 June – 06 October 2019
Venue: Matadero Madrid


Architects: elii

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28045 Madrid, SPAIN

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.