Bullfights have suffered a rapid decline in popularity during the last few decades. There are several reasons for this, many of which are controversial, but whatever they may be, any architect designing a bullring must find justification for his work. It isn’t reasonable to build enormous monuments to a spectacle in decadence.

Second Award |  RTFA 2014 Awards

Category: Public Building Concept

Participant  Name: John Porral

Country: United Kingdom 

Along this line of reasoning, and with the growing trend between different regions of Spain of prohibiting the event, some bullrings are being converted into spaces destined for different uses (‘Las Arenas’ in Barcelona, ‘Vistalegre’ in Madrid). It strengthens the point, then, that one should doubt whether a new bullring is necessary, or at least to consider the design with its inevitable obsolescence in mind.

Historically, this has rarely been an issue in architecture; the knowledge that one’s work is destined to stop being useful, but parallelisms can be drawn with certain cases. Ephemeral architecture, particularly the one designed for world fairs’ and similar events, is given special attention to the time it takes to build and its end of life cycle. On the other hand the technological industry works on even shorter periods, to accommodate technical advances and a ravenous mass consumer market. Products are created, then, with the expiry date in mind, and this, in architectural terms, is what is happening with bullrings.

With this in mind there are two solutions to the problem; either the bullring should be nomadic, travelling in search of its dwindling audience, or it should incorporate new uses that justify its existence, giving a wider array of people a reason to use it. With regards to the first response – on the portability of the project -, if the objective is to compete with existing portable bullrings, a large part of the design effort must be given to the way in which the structure is deployed, simplifying the process, eliminating heavy machinery and minimizing manpower. Temporary bullrings are optimized to minimize costs, and this project should be, if not cheaper, quicker and easier to build.

Such strict conditions have the disadvantage of complicating the design process enormously. The way in which a solution is found is by consecutive approximations. By slowly introducing variables into ever-complicating models of the bullring, the shortcomings of the previous generations are corrected, ending in a project which complies with all the requirements that are needed of it.

Specifically, the answer which is reached is a round, segmented bullring, where each of its 18 divisions is independent from the rest, and designed to fold and fit on a conventional truck. By simply deploying the segments next to each other, forming a circle, the bullring is temporarily formed. It is important to insist that it is able to open by itself, with no help from cranes or other heavy machinery.

The result is a bullring which is able to build itself in a single day, adapt to uneven terrain without affecting the stands, and able to travel on conventional roads on standard trucks.


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