Ignacio Perez Certucha, Carolina Castañeda Van Waeyenberge y Nadjib Achaibou, CDMX, (2020) - Cartografías Olfativas is a digital, performative and architectural project that understands the discipline as a kinesthetic experience, placing the potential user at the center of his or her sensory reconstruction. Olfactory Cartographies is a project of mental associations, which uses alternative means to establish visual references with precise places. Smell, one of the senses farthest removed from the classical architectural experience, plays a vital role in the project; its subjective registers serve to structure personal memories, establish associations with places and reconstruct environments. This performatic piece seeks to design from abstract elements, real places reconstructed in a digital environment, mediated by the design and administration of the collective memory collected in maps and visible information, which can be understood as valid references of a contemporary spatial experience.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CARTOGRAFÍAS OLFATIVAS
We asked Ignacio, Carolina and Nadjib about Cartografías Olfativas and the relevance of representing architecture and the city through smell.
CAROLINA CASTAÑEDA VAN WAEYENBERGE
IGNACIO PÉREZ CERTUCHA
From a sensitive contradiction between the natural and the industrial, its architecture explores the identity of each place serving with emotions and surprises the people who inhabit it. Its spaces seek to caress some piece of memory, touch a dream and smell the shadow of desires, building sensory experiences in each territory worked.
From an Algerian family, born in France, and adopted by Mexico, Nadjib Achaibou is an industrial perfumer and is also dedicated to telling olfactory stories in theaters and museums, virtual reality experiences or art installations.
What is the origin of the project?
To reflect on and open a dialogue around odours as social phenomena in the production of territory and landscape. To see breathing and smells as qualities of habitability. The current crisis can take away our sense of smell (Covid-19), or make a place close and its smell disappear. Isolated, nostalgia is generated, not only of spaces where we used to live with loved ones, but of the smells and tastes kept in our memories.
We want to understand how the built space supports our memories and emotions through smells and how from there we can think of future ideals.
What do we want the future to smell like?
Is it possible to make architecture with odors/perfumes?
What are the relationships between smell, places and memory?
We believe that there is an aesthetic and political relationship between smell, space and time determined by the mechanisms of social production.
Smells create spontaneous associations that do not allow disguising the memory. There is much that we cannot understand but is recorded in our sensory memory. The smell of popcorn is directly linked to movie theaters. Beyond marketing, which has shown us that certain smells help in identifying sales and productivity, it is also interesting to question where these associations come from since they can be a source of pleasure but also help to dismantle prejudices.
What is Cartografías Olfativas?
A semiotic exercise between architecture, nostalgia and utopia that explores the ways in which smell anchors in our memory, the spaces we inhabit and projects in our desire the places we dream.
A game of sensoriality, location and rhythm in the poetics of breathing and inhabiting that suggests aesthetic associations, but gives the public the freedom to interpret them so as to stop being just readers of the territory and become operators of the landscape.
Cartografías Olfativas aims to be a digital and collaborative platform of geographical references and olfactory concepts that seeks to provoke conversations around the materiality of spaces and their human relationship.
Why choose smell to represent the city?
Architecture smells, and our visual obsession has deprived us of that sense.
How to smell the city without fear?
The smell tells us and reminds us that we breathe, that we share space with other people and elements; places smell of what is going on in them and what they are made of; but smells do not last forever and architecture does not build itself.
How does your practice relate to architecture, and where do you see its impact on the future of the discipline?
There have been some attempts at architecture and smell, a famous example is La Cité de Refuge by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret (1929-1933) which provided a modern approach to smell and otherness, air and space. The architect's awareness of smell can make decisions to create more comfortable environments. Consider, without trying to control, certain factors at the material or ventilation level. In this time of pandemic it becomes even more relevant.
Hopefully these olfactory cartographies will stimulate reflections on the future.