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“Petites Follies – Other Landscapes over Douro”

Ana Neiva, Marta Viana, João Nuno Gomes


“Petites Follies” project, a satellite activity for the Porto Design Biennale 2021, offered a set of architecture installations, co-designed and co-built in real time by architecture and interior design students, aiming at reconfiguring local realities through ephemeral structures at public spaces of Porto.

Starting with the same number of timber bars, screws and OSB panels, the students’ groups built site-specific installations reacting to the immediate environment, proposing different points of view, generating gathering spaces and new polarities, while breeding an evolutive pedestrian route that linked the six interventions.

This paper is part of a broader research about the 1:1 scale potentialities also seen as a powerful tool for architecture disclosure, and will focus on Petites Folies project to explore the process of design and construction of the real-scale installations, architecture and design methodological interactions, collective designing, and do-it-yourself building techniques as part of a hands-on pedagogy.

On another level, it will reflect on how working with one-to-one scale had stimulated students to investigate and try out new ideas on construction, providing an undeniable “experimental laboratory”, a central topic to the ongoing discussion on architecture education.

Finally, it will also endorse public space appropriation through ephemeral architecture interventions, recounting the public reception of these follies. Beyond, endorsing the polarization of squares, yards and community areas, activating its social utility through design and architecture, this satellite activity for the PDB’21 had intended to intensify the links between the university and the society,  empowering a lively and participatory process based on the sensory engagement of the creators, but also, reaching out to expanded public audience.

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