the space of emptiness

In 1946 the writer Camilo Jose Cela set out early one summer morning, with his backpack, canteen and boots from his apartment in Madrid for the region of the Alcarria, a region characterized by Cela as “very beautiful” yet “a region which people apparently have no desire to visit”. Cela walked from village to village, sleeping in the local inns or in the ditches of its landscape in search of “the heart of Spain”. When he got tired, Cela went back to Madrid and wrote a book of rare distinction, about a place “where nothing ever happened”. The Madrid of his day sat like an island within the dry tableland of the Castilian plateau, its periphery understood as “distant and picturesque”. In more recent years the city of Madrid has exploded into a major conglomerate metropolis of over 5 million people. It has become the third largest city in Europe, after London and Paris, swallowing many of the smaller adjacent settlements, broad fields and desolate flatlands of La Mancha. In the first term diploma3 encouraged individual and extended journeys through the Alcarria. Our initial focus centered on the abandoned Monastario de la Luz on the edge of the village of Almonacid de Zorita. It is within the remnant space and gardens of the monastery that through direct investigation and intervention the unit discovered and cultivated the idea of absence and qualities imbued in the space of emptiness.At the beginning of the Second Term the unit returned to Spain and to the capital city Madrid, a city with an extraordinary history, yet in the words of the filmmaker Almodovar “the past is not enough because the future still excites it.” It is within three sites within the city where the unit challenged the present rampant development of city’s edges. With ideas and ways of working gathered from investigations in the landscape of the Alcarria, the students developed strategies of conglomeration and projects that allow for spaces to deliberately collide and coalesce; propositions that have the capacity to absorb additions and that allow for the accretion of memory and the luxury of emptiness.


Maria Anastassopoulou
Wenche Andreassen
Angela Boyce
Anne Dieterich
Masateru Hatamoto
Tim Healy
Myrto Kampaloni
Kah Kuen Kwan
Hwei Fan Liang
Kirki Mariolopoulou
Lorna McGhee
Yoshiharu Murakami
Ayaka Nakaya
Eleftherios Tsolakis
Ignazio Vok
Hong Yee Wong