Dezeen Magazine

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

A disused hospital building in Valencia explodes and shifts into new configurations in this series of manipulated photographs by Spanish studio espai MGR (+ slideshow + movie).

Led by espai MGR, the architects manipulated photographs of the former Hospital Universitario La Fe to draw attention to the need for "urban recycling" to revive empty buildings.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

"Nothing is unrelated in a city. To empty a building and leave a black spot in the city is something that somehow also affects the closest environment," architects Manuel López and Bernat Ivars told Dezeen.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

"We wanted to show a building that evolves parallel to a society more and more aware of the importance of urban recycling," they added. "A building able to be restructured and to change in order to house new functions without needing to be demolished and rebuilt."

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

An accompanying website tells the story of the hospital through a cryptic fable about an octopus and a broken pitcher, which references a fairytale about a proud milkmaid whose pail of milk falls from her head.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

The broken pitcher, or pail, suggests an object that has been badly managed and can no longer function properly, the architects explain.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

The images accompanying the text are not directly connected to each other, but are organised like a soundtrack accompanying a scene in a film. "For instance, in the moment the pitcher is broken, the building breaks with it, depicting an interior full of possibilities," they said.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

Creative Dismantling was led by espai MGR with the assistance of Aitor Varea as a product of Proyectos con Final Feliz, a work and research cooperative based in Valencia.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

Last year we reported on another photo-manipulation project by espai MGR, which imagined impossible Lego structures filling vacant plots in Valencia.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

We recently reported on another set of surreal photographs in which Parisian houses appear to be floating in the sky like kites.

Creative Dismantling by espai MGR

See all our stories about manipulated photography »
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Here's some more information from the architects:

Creative Dismantling_short story about strange cities_ep1

Authors: Bernat Ivars, Manuel López
Collaborators: Fran Azorin, Lola Bataller, Isabel González, Eva Raga, Aitor Varea


When an institutional bulding is disused, its stillness infects life around it. Creative Dismantling tries to reverse this situation by means of injecting movement both visually and reflexively. The case study is the former Hospital La Fe, currently a large container without use in Valencia, Spain.

This building served as a public hospital since its opening in 1968 until its closure in February of 2011. Once all its services have been transferred to a new location, its around 150,000 sq m of floor area are ready to be reinvented in order to keep on energising its unbreakable bond with the neighborhood of Campanar.

By means of a different language, we pursue to make visible a problem and turn it into an opportunity: the establishment of the former Hospital La Fe as a symbol of urban recycling.


The creative dismantling seeks to reconstruct the different links of urban reality. The goal is to get the city to maintain ecosystem equilibrium relationships among agencies so that the dynamics of each complement the other. This requires a reinterpretation of the usual meaning of the elements that turn problems into opportunities. A rearticulation to heal wounds urban partially through the influence of reflex areas.

We talked about a long-term process where the fundamental piece of change is not the result but the movement itself. The real destruction of a building is not its disappearance but its stillness: stillness that extends to everything that surrounds it. Some buildings should disappear. Others gradually disappear. In one case or another, they must always give way to a new life. The task of the architect is also to decide the optimal way to deconstruction. Progress sometimes appears with removing the first stone.

A brand new symbology

Creative dismantling is not unless it contributes to activate a fair and complex social economy. As a sign of a new attitude, creative dismantling has a symbolic character that feeds on what makes us individuals and allows us to live everyday. Halfway between utopia and an unavoidable step whose border a change of attitude, creative dismantling does not focus on the material but also on values, dismantling institutions stacked in a wrong time. How can something die with dignity and become more important during the process of death than in life? We only have to redefine the direction taken so far and adopt a more coherent logic. In the end, asserting only common sense.

Former Hospital Universitario La Fe was opened in 1968 to meet the needs of the health area of Valencia. This service was guaranteed by the involvement of almost 7,000 employees. For 42 years it served daily to over 600 patients. During its long period of activity it acted as an economic and social promoter of a neighborhood that became identified with his existence. his intense activity contributed to the creation of housing and services for the broad set of employees, patients and families.

In 2001, the Ministry of Health of the Generalitat Valenciana announced the decision to build a new La Fe hospital to replace the current centre. The transfer of all its services to the new location took place between November 2010 and February 2011, since when the new site has assumed the continuity of all inherited health responsibilities.

Today, the old centre is one of the most important urban opportunities in the city. About 150,000 m2 of floor area remain ready to be reinvented and continue its task of energising an unbreakable bond with the neighbourhood of Campanar.