At the invitation of the Middelheim Museum and the Green Department of the city of Antwerp, Spanish artist collective Recetas Urbanas creates the natural sculpture Montaña Verde on De Coninckplein. The project forms a part of the exhibition EXPERIENCE TRAPS as a research into the possibilities and limitations of city ornaments and arch designs. But it also takes into account the botanical species that were cultivated and used in the Baroque era for their nutritious or healing qualities. In Rubens’ time embellishments were meant to show the city at its very best. Architect Santiago Cirugeda and his colleagues want ‘to get to know the heart of the Antwerp citizen’. The artist likes to ‘seduce’ as well but if the neighbourhood doesn’t support this green romance, De Coninckplein will remain grey. Unlike Rubens – who kept a firm grip on projects – Recetas Urbanas goes in search of models of participation in this hyperdiverse society. Together, the collective and the local community investigate how a green public space can contribute to a liveable city.
For the last twenty years Recetas Urbanas has filled the public space with participative building projects, based upon the inhabitants’ and users’ needs. It often concerns affordable, mobile building constructions made from recycled material. The users play a decisive role at each stage: when designing, during the construction process and for the maintenance of the creation. With these ‘recipes for the city’, citizens not only assume their responsibility, they also take matters into their own hands. But ‘spontaneous’ as they may seem, projects like this one are always preceded by an intensive period of legal investigation, participation and technical preparation.