Inserted in the program of Guimarães European Capital of Culture (ECC) 2012, Performance Architecture was an international open call for temporary urban interventions held earlier this year. "The competition intends to draw up architectural and urban strategies that, in reactivating performance art approaches, provide new directions as to the roles of architects, artists and designers in the urban context," the competition's call for ideas stated.
Unidade instigates the participation of passers-by, not only because of its sound, which immediately draws people's attention, but also due to its "controlled performance," as Ricardo Jacinto puts it, which "doesn't hold people back in participating, since it's relatively easy to perform on this machine, you just have to pedal." And there's the added satisfaction of having something produced for the city in a couple of minutes.
Inaugurated on 26 September in one of the main squares of Guimarães — a city remarked as the birthplace of Portuguese nationality —, Unidade finds a place of its own. "Our first idea was to design a machine that would produce small stools," says Pedrita's Pedro Ferreira. From that point on, the whole project was developed into an object reminiscent of a factory production line that performs in the urban space and adds a point of interest to the city.
Unidade accommodates three exercise bicycles that operate as different workstations, providing "fuel" when in action to a concrete industrial mixer. The resulting concrete dough is then poured onto a textile mould attached to a cart. After that, the concrete has to dry for a few hours, and the seat is ready. To develop Unidade's complex structure, the precious input from an expert in mechanics was crucial to sort out technical issues.
The number of people wanting to try the machine was notable, and in the first four days, the corner of the square where Unidade was placed filled up with the small concrete individual seats