The students of the Master's Degree in Ephemeral Architecture and Temporary Spaces (MEATS), with the support of Olot City Council, have designed 'Far away, so close', a temporary installation that premiered this July in the capital of La Garrotxa.
The project is a proposal developed in the unit that MEATS dedicates each year to emergency architecture and responds to the urgent need to revise the concept of social distancing that emerged by the sudden outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic; a highly controversial term that, according to the authors of the project, can have devastating consequences if the new reality is prolonged over time.
According to those in charge, it is time to make new proposals that work with physical distance as an opportunity to generate dynamics to create empathy and social cohesion, avoiding regulatory and coercive solutions that represent a degraded version of the pre-pandemic situation.
Distance as an opportunity for interaction
‘Far Away, So Close’ proposes a new dynamic for relating in collective space that harnesses physical distance as a factor for activating and intensifying intimate relationships. The social distancing implemented in response to the pandemic is understood as an opportunity to create interaction instead of isolation. In this way, the project proposes a series of mobile sound mirrors installed in public space, which engender different modes of interaction through the logic of play: a giant game of Chinese whispers; a concert where the music is heard on separate tracks; or a personal message conveyed across a crowded square are some of its applications. As a result, ‘Far Away, So Close’ lets us whisper a secret from 20 metres away, an intimate experience made magical by distance.
The project was conceived, developed and built entirely by MEATS students and by their professors Xevi Bayona, Toni Montes and Roger Paez. It received support from the Olot City Council, and the first installation in public space took place in the Firal in Olot, on 17 July 2020.