Matadero Madrid center for contemporary creation


Twelve Cautionary Urban Tales
Exhibition until 31 of January 2021. Online until 30 of April 2021
Online Programme
Nave 16

A visual manifesto by OMA that questions the prevailing conventions in the field of healthcare design, not only in terms of how hospitals are built but also why they are built the way they are built

The exhibition 'Twelve Cautionary Urban Tales’ addresses the future of the contemporary city through the proposals and speculations of twelve international artists and architects who contribute their personal views not only on what a city is, but what it can be. Curated by Ethel Baraona and developed in collaboration with The Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA), the exhibition focuses on topics as diverse as the increasing transformation of domestic and urban spaces through the use of digital technologies; the many ways in which food modifies our bodies, behaviours and thus, the urban space; how a city could be if the botanic world should have a voice in the political sphere; or the possibility of having a “happiness index” and how to use these emotional data in urban planning.

With the title 'The Hospital of the Future', Matadero wants to incorporate a new cautionary tale to the exhibition, but not just a new one: this project, led by Reiner de Graaf, from the architecture studio OMA, addresses the issue of the city and healthcare, questioning the prevailing conventions in the field of healthcare design, not only in terms of how hospitals are built but also why they are built the way they are built.

The work emerges from a research project led by Reinier de Graaf and his team at the renowned architectural office OMA. The film examines the role that disease has played in shaping cities and concludes with a speculative exploration into the future of healthcare design. The film is meant to stimulate a discussion about how to build viable cities for health and care.

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a global crisis, the hospital should not only be treated as an architectural problem but rather as one of urban planning and city organization, approaching it from a critical, transdisciplinary perspective.

The film has been produced with the support of Matadero Madrid Centre for Contemporary Creation.

We could claim to live longer than any previous generation in human history. Average life expectancy had doubled in the last hundred years. Thanks to improvements in sanitation, nutrition, and medicine, most of us could live to see 73. Illness wasis less not as much something to die from, and but more something to live with. In 2020, however, all these assumptions seem to have been upended. Chronic conditions related to aging and lifestyle have suddenly become an acute problem. Pundits insist on the “New Normal”, But how new is New, and how normal was Normal?

What should be the ingredients of tomorrow’s architecture of health? Can technology save us? Will we allow gene therapy and 3D- printed organs? Will 5G networks revolutionisze healthcare, unleashing the promised quantum leap in effectiveness? What about the hospital itself? Can it keep pace with these technological advances? With increasing evidence that the Western model of healthcare may have reached its limits, what are the alternatives? Is the hospital of the future even a building?

About OMA
OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) is an international practice operating within the bounds of architecture and urbanism, and maintains offices in Rotterdam, New York, and Hong Kong. Completed projects include De Rotterdam on the banks of the Maas river, the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, the Casa da Música in Porto, the Seattle Central Library, and the Dutch Embassy in Berlin.

Reinier de Graaf is a partner in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), where he leads projects in Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Reinier is the co-founder of OMA’s think tank AMO and Sir Arthur Marshall Visiting Professor of Urban Design at the Department of Architecture of the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the book Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession.

Artistic team and specifications
  • Concept

    Hans Larsson, Alex Retegan, Reinier de Graaf

  • Art Direction

    Adam Kouki, Magdalena Narkiewicz

  • Narration

    Camille Filbien

  • Sound Design

    Max ten Oever

  • Sourcing

    Claire Jansen, Nuria Ribas Costa

  • Research

    Anton Anikeev, Matthew Bovingdon-Downe, Helena Gomes, Sofia Hosszufalussy, Lucas Piquemal, Anahita Tabrizi, Jonas Trittman, Elisa Versari, Santiago Palacio Villa, Yushang Zhang