The word activist, long part of the vocabulary of social causes and political engagements, is an identifier gaining currency in architecture. As an era of “star architects” fades to be replaced by a generation eager to tackle local issues for everyday citizens, the shift has become the calling card of Santiago-based Grupo TOMA. Produced by ArchDaily as part of our partnership with The Architectural Review, the above film profiles the group of five friends – Mathias Klenner, Ignacio Rivas, Ignacio Saavedra, Eduardo Pérez and Leandro Cappetto – who have become an architectural collective interested in “the architect as a mediator, as an entity capable of linking organizations, of connecting political and economic powers."
For the past two and a half years, the group has sought out projects that convert industrial spaces of past eras into new facilities. Working without intermediaries has been a boon to the group’s experimental attitude and productivity, which might otherwise be curtailed by bureaucratic setbacks. With projects spanning from a few days to a few months, and some potentially longer, the group privileges social impact and memory over duration and material certainty.