“All those years of hauling have left it deformed. Even though it’s missing a bogie and has been derailed, when you saw it you could not help but feel respect. Not like what we see now … they don’t make them like they used to.” This is how Nelson, the train driver, describes boxcar 1513.
The train car has been selected to be part of the railway system recovery program by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Culture & Heritage. But unlike other elements that make up this restoration project, this boxcar carries neither freight nor tourists, but culture and public space.
The reactivation of the railway is a great event for the communities on its route. After twelve years of absence these settlements not only recover a means of communication and are reactivated economically, but they also recover, in many cases, their vocation.
Cultural promoters will use the train car as an activator of public space in the stations where it stops. The project must be able to allow musical performances, theater, community training, celebrations, etc… This means that the car does not have a strictly defined architectural program. That implies a challenge: it must work for any activity that the cultural promoters schedule.
MINIMUM COMMON DENOMINATOR
To resolve this multifunctional project, the solution focused on applying basic mathematics to architectural features. Everything is resolved under the logic of the minimum common denominator, or rather a minimal common feature: the greatest number of uses with the minimum number of elements.
Thus we concluded that for a public square, a theater (with a capacity of 60-80 people) and workspaces (for 20 users), we only needed to attach three elements to the car: a roof with several deployment options, retractable furniture and two storage spaces. We worked with diverse industrial designers, each one focusing on a specific area: roof, furniture and storage. This allowed for an optimization of processes and construction time.
Simple systems operated by the cultural promoters can turn the car into a public square, theater or work space.
Soon the car will tour train stations around the coast and its use will add bruises to the deformed body, left intact to keep accumulating stories.