elii [oficina de arquitectura]


119 · jardín cyborg / imna

Strategies for adapting to climate change


Curatorship and display design for the exhibition ‘Cyborg Garden – Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives’, Matadero Madrid

“Your attention please. You are now entering the Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives. A platform for generating knowledge and artworks as a means to address the challenges presented by the climate crisis in the 21st century. A place for communicating with other species, for learning from ants and many-headed slime mould and for talking with humans who have not as yet been born.

We invite you, firstly, to a preview of the prototypes of the future Cyborg Garden now being developed by a team of artists, designers, architects, scientists and specialists in various fields and which will soon be planted in Matadero Madrid.

After that, you will be able to visit the exhibition Eco-visionaries. Art for a Planet in a State of Emergency, in which over 40 creators tackle climate change through art.

We also encourage you to take part in the various activities that will be held in this mutant space over the coming four months.



The exhibition ‘Cyborg Garden – Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives’ shows the preliminary results of research done by an inter-disciplinary team of specialist with a two-fold aim. First, to define strategies for adapting to climate change in public spaces, to be materialized in the ‘plantation’ of a Cyborg Garden at Matadero Madrid. Second, to analyze the stance of art with respect to the environmental crisis and how art can contribute to broadening imaginaries and ecosystem narratives through the Mutant Institute of Environmental Narratives (IMNA).

- The Cyborg Garden is a coral process in which a group of artists led by a team of technical experts from different disciplines develops a set of creative processes to try out strategies for adapting to climate change that enhance the resilience of public spaces and make Matadero Madrid a desirable venue. The Cyborg Garden will be a testing ground to experiment with ways for humans and non-humans to co-exist. It will entice visitors to make other use of the open spaces. Why a Cyborg Garden? On one hand, a garden is a meeting-place for different kinds of species as well as a venue for enjoyment, desire, and care. On the other, the cyborg dimension lets us imagine the relationship between nature and technology as spheres that must necessarily be thought out continuously, like a hybrid relation. Currently, Matadero finds itself in the limelight of an urban “island of color”: a space that undergoes temperature extremes for months on end on account of its layout and material configuration. The projects featured in this display are the first entries in this project that will turn Matadero Madrid into a laboratory for trying out Nature Based Solutions and that will culminate in a set of repeatable prototypes in other areas of the city.

- The Mutant Institute for Environmental Narratives was founded for the purpose of assessing the role of imaginaries, myths, traditions, and desires articulating our society in constructing the discourse on climate change. It suggests that we make a critical revision of them and proposes strategies that help create other environmental narratives beyond the ones traditionally linked to the environment. IMNA proposes artistic endeavors in connection with other fields of knowledge that overflow classical disciplines to take on the planetary issues (cultural, political, scientific, technological, or arising from communication processes) of the climate crisis from collective intelligence and social innovation. Their main lines of actuation are presented in the exhibition through a set of works by artists and a program of activities that range from citizen science actuations and workshops on climate speculation to performance art and even a radio show.

For both the garden and for IMNA, a group of artists has been chosen with very differing but complementary stances that, taken as a whole, cover a plural range of knowledge: in JC, UH513 from experimentation with cyborg species; Orkan Telhan, from the scaler relation between microbial reality, our bodies and the environments we inhabit; TAKK, from the questioning of the design in the Anthropocene Age. At IMNA, Paula Nishijima, who studies networks and living systems as frameworks that question the traditional division of nature vs culture; Roberta Šebjanič and her cultural realities, bio-politics, chemistry and biology of aquatic environments; Fito Conesa, from inter-species communication.

[* For a more detailed explanation of the works by the artists, for JC as well as for IMNA, see the ‘PROJECTS’ section].

A disembodied voice greets us as soon as we arrive at the exhibition, entreating us to step into the experimentation space. Once we are inside, the design of the exhibition suggests a garden of ‘species’ crisscrossed by paths that lead to the different works of art, both from Cyborg Garden and IMNA. The artworks stand out on organically arranged, light-colored slabs. Off to the sides, wavy upright elements complete the artificial environment and hold up the credits, the posters, the basic information on the activities and graphics. In the middle is a small amphitheater reminiscent of dalliances in pleasure gardens of libertine houses, but rather than flaunting a statue of Venus in the middle, this contemporary version houses an audiovisual artwork by Nishijima. The amphitheater’s furnishings are scant and versatile, and lend themselves to multiple arrangements for different activities. Its see-through enclosure arranged in blurry swaths of colors facilitates crossing visits and sets relationships between the pieces. The geometry of the seats makes them stackable to optimize storage in the future.

The design prescribes a set of environmentally friendly materials such as recyclable floor tiles, PEFC-certified wood, infinitely recyclable polyamide tulles, recyclable vinyl, etc., that aim to align the construction processes with the ecosystems, thereby imbuing this indoor space with large-scale ecological programs. 

The display is featured at the center for contemporary creation Matadero Madrid along with the exhibition called “ECO-VISIONARIES: Art for a planet in emergency”. Taken together, both exhbits present a set of contemporary artworks that address climate change as a crucial challenge of our time.


Strategies for adapting to climate change

Cyborg Garden

1.Plants also look up at the stars. The collective group UH513 new cyborg species for Matadero Madrid, which invite us to broaden our sensory limits to understand “the language of plants”.

2.Matdero Fruit. Orkan Telhan, bio-designer and PhD in computation, works with the idea of caretaking rituals in the processes of harvesting through robotic pieces that supply fruit to visitors: pro-biotic popsicles to help them beat the heat.

3.Hidden in Plain Sight. The collective of architects Double Happiness attend to the other inhabitants of Matadero Madrid: insects, the neighbors  who are not always visible but are vital to the dynamics of the ecosystem, developing architectures through out for humans and non-humans alike.

4.Trace Hall. The collective made up of Rachel Armstrong, Rolf, Hughes, Pierangelo Scravaglierei and Ioannis Ieropoulis offers an infrastructure based on a purification system to turn the visitors’ urine and feces into water for gardening, compost, and energy for the cyborg garden.

5.The Garden of Romantic Crossovers. The architect eam TAKK develops leisure spaces that partake of local biodiversity, activating new ethological forms based on desire.


6.Life lived along lines (Game of Swarms I). Centered around the idea of cooperation as a form of resilience in processes of adapting to the world, Paula Nishijimi proposes studying natural networks such as those of social insects and microorganisms to generate new ways relationships and work.

7.Riology. Robertina Šebjanič works with the Manzanares River, which flows beside Matadero Madrid, as a place of sedimentation of a “deep time” in the city in the time of the “Aquascene”. 

8.Inter-species communicator. Fito Conesa delves into the possibility of inter-species communication through a 5-episode narrative that will be developed from a set of workshops open to the public.

  • Cyborg Garden co-director and curator:
  • elii [oficina de arquitectura] – Uriel Fogué, Eva Gil, Carlos Palacios 
  • IMNA co-director and curator:
  • Amanda Masha Caminals
  • Idea and co-management: 
  • Matadero Madrid
  • Design of the exhibition space:
  • elii [oficina de arquitectura] 
  • Architects:
  • elii [oficina de arquitectura] – Uriel Fogué, Eva Gil, Carlos Palacios 
  • Collaborators:
  • elii - Lucía Fernández, Ana López, Raquel García, Marta Vaquero, Mónica Palfy, Juan Mateos, Natalia Matesanz
  • Graphic design:
  • Vendedores de Humo
  • Cyborg Garden Project advisory group: 
  • Juan Azcárate, Luis Tejero, Rafael Ruiz, Carlos Mataix, Manuel Alméstar, Julio Lumbreras, Sara Romero, María Ángeles Huerta, Luisa Fernanda Guerra
  • Promoters of Cyborg Garden:
  • Plataform-A - Centro de Innovación en Tecnología para el Desarrollo Humano de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (itdUPM), Townhall of Madrid through the Área de Medio Ambiente y Movilidad, and Matadero Madrid, in collaboration with a lot of local agents and in coproduction with international institutions.
  • Participating architects and artists in Cyborg Garden: 
  • uh513 [María Castellanos y Alberto Valverde] / TAKK [Mireia Luzárraga and Alejandro Muiño]/ Orkan Telhan/Double Happiness [Joyce Hwang y Nerea Feliz] / Rachel Armstrong, Rolf Hughes, Pierangelo Scravaglieri [Newcastle University] and Ioannis Ieropoulos [University of the West of England]
  • IMNA consultancy group: 
  • elii [oficina de arquitectura], Juan Azcárate, Luis Tejero, Rafa Ruiz, Carlos Mataix, Julio Lumbreras, Sara Romero, Manuel Alméstar, María Ángeles Huerta, Luisa Fernanda Guerra, Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS _ UCLA). Opera a través de la red de trabajo interdisciplinar Plataform-A, que reúne a un grupo internacional de artistas, diseñadores, investigadores, pensadores, científicos, ingenieros, arquitectos, responsables de políticas públicas y otros muchos agentes
  • Participating artists in IMNA: 
  • Fito Conesa / Carmen Haro Barba / Episkaia / Paula Nishijima / Lois Patiño / Robertina Šebjanic / Laboratorio del Pensamiento Lúdico
  • Project coordination:
  • Eva Gonzalo, Eduardo Castillo Vinuesa, Natalia Matesanz.
  • Production of citizen science:
  • Viernes Comunicación
  • 3D modeling and design of the Inter-species Communicator:
  • Siddharth Gautam Singh
  • Other collaborators:
  • L’Oréal, Fundación Ernesto Ventós, Audrey Dussutour del Centro de Investigación en Cognición Animal del Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) de la Universidad de Toulouse, Sara Arganda del Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid
  • Production:
  • Matadero Madrid
  • Transport:
  • Feltrero División Arte
  • Set production:
  • Solart. Soluciones en Arte
  • Insurance:
  • Developer:
  • Matadero Madrid
  • Photography: 
  • ImagenSubliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero)
  • Surface:
  • 552,30m2
  • Date:
  • 13 de junio – 06 de octubre de 2019
  • Venue:
  • Matadero Madrid