ignacio g. galán
[ igg - office for architecture ]

New York / Madrid
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Research project, currently under development

See an abridged version of this research in "Circulen," Circo 186 (2013)

How can we regard architecture's entanglement with the material actuality of contemporary circulatory processes? This materiality is certainly obvious when considering the infrastructures that architects and engineers negotiate for the city. However, it is not so clear when it concerns the cultural and economic processes involved in the movement of images and capitals. Architecture, completely imbricated between all of them, enacts the apparent virtuality of these processes. In this research I follow these simultaneous forms of circulation in the analysis of Milan's subway and Milanese circulating imaginaries.

Consider the following image to begin: A policeman (or maybe a policewoman?), poses in a relaxed position. She is framed horizontally by a continuous banner announcing a subway station, Duomo, and the edge of a platform, positioned, respectively, at the top and the bottom of the photograph. Dressed in a light elegant white outfit, legs crossed and leaning on the stair rail, she is observed not only by the camera located on the opposite platform, but also, on the left-hand side of the image by a group of six people, seemingly a four-member family and an elderly couple turning their heads toward the figure in white. A colored tube rises from the wall turning upward, making a perfect quarter-circle arc to the right and then a full half-circle to the left to meet the policewoman's fist, before finally turning around the dark wall behind her back. There, before rising upstairs, the railing tube meets, in an optical coincidence, the tip of the gigantic arrow of an advertising board located on the wall that backdrops the scene several feet further into the background. On the white and well-illuminated board, the big abstract arrow frames the rather austere logo of the department store La Rinascente, pointing to the stair that rises to the exit. In fact, several feet above the scene depicted in the photograph, one would find not only the successful boutiques of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle and the popular Gothic cathedral that gives its name to the subway station, but also the original space in which La Rinascente had first opened in Milan in 1865 and the much larger location to which the thriving business had subsequently moved. Nothing stands out in this 1964 photograph of the recently inaugurated Milan subway, taken by Carlo Orsi—the policewoman, the railing and the advertisement orchestrate a perfect choreography—together they state: "Circulate!"

Metropolitana milanese, Carlo Orsi (1946).


Acordeón Office Sidebar

  • About Open or Close

    [igg - office for architecture] is a design and research office based in New York City and led by Ignacio G. Galán, PhD. Our work focuses on architecture's role in the articulation of society through design projects, research, and pedagogical endeavors. The designs of the office have been awarded in competitions including the First Prize for the New Velodrome in Medellín and are part of the permanent collection of the Pompidou Center. The office was a finalist to the 2014 Iakov Chernikhov Prize as a result of its contributions to design culture. 

    We operate through diverse media and platforms and are continuously informed by different kinds of conversations and collaborations. Galán's research has led to the production of several publications and exhibitions including the installation Cinecittá Occupata for the 2014 Venice Biennale by invitation of the general curator Rem Koolhaas. Together with the After Belonging Agency, Galán was the Chief Curator of the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale (Graham Foundation Grant 2015). He has also collaborated in the research project Radical Pedagogies and has co-curated its exhibition at the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale and at the 2014 Venice Biennale, where it was awarded a Special Mention of the jury. He is currently one of the editors of the homonymous volume, forthcoming in 2020 by Sternberg Press (Graham Foundation Grant 2019).

    Galán studied Architecture at ETSAMadrid and TUDelft, he graduated with Distinction from the MArchII program at Harvard GSD, and has a PhD in Architecture History and Theory of Architecture from Princeton. He has been a Fellow at the Spanish Academy in Rome and a Fulbright Scholar. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture at Barnard+Columbia Colleges and has taught studios and seminars at Columbia GSAPP and PennDesign among others.

  • Statement Open or Close

    We understand architecture as a key agent participating in the articulation of society. 

    We explore the ways in which architecture contributes to the definition of new ways of being together.

    We are concerned with architecture's relation to cultural transfers, material networks, and diverse forms of population transience in a global context. The relation of these forms of circulation challenge our understanding of architecture (conventionally associated with control, enclosure, permanence, and stability), requires new imaginations for our ways of being together and consequently remains a realm for further inquiry and intervention.

    We are additionally interested in the objects, media technologies, and institutions transforming architecture's individual occupations, its collective operations, and its diverse types of mobilization. 

    These emphases lead the work of the office and continuously challenge our methods of analysis and our design practice.