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Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura

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Contemporary Perspectives: San Sebastian seen through the eyes of 100 differently aged individuals

  • Donostia Lagunkoia presents a photography exhibition within the framework of the second edition of the International Architecture Biennial from 16 November to 9 December at Plaza Zuloaga, San Sebastian.
  • The 800 pictures on exhibit were taken with disposable cameras and present a unique reflection of how age conditions the way people see, live and relate to the same shared spaces in a city.


The exhibit Contemporary Perspectives opened this weekend at Plaza Zuloaga (San Sebastian) and invites visitors to consider how age conditions the way we see and live the city, given that our perspectives are shaped by our unique life circumstances and experiences. The exhibit is promoted by the San Sebastian City Council through Donostia Langunkoia, in collaboration with the municipal public library Tabakalera-Ubik and the International Architecture Biennial (MUGAK). It brings together 800 pictures taken with disposable cameras by 100 citizens of all different ages. The exhibit will run until 9 November 2019.

The city’s demographics played a key role in shaping this exhibit. If there were only 100 inhabitants in San Sebastian, 17 would be under the age of 19; 15 would be between the ages of 20 and 34; 29 would be between the ages 35 and 54; 21 would be between the ages of 55 and 70; and 18 would be over the age of 70. This snapshot of the city’s demographics is reproduced by the 100 individuals whose pictures are part of the exhibit. Each of these individuals is unique, yet they share the same space: the city and time, the contemporary. Contemporary Perspectives is, without a doubt, a reflection of how the inhabitants of San Sebastian view their city, shaped by their life experiences and circumstances.

It is not only life stages that influence our perspectives — there are many other conditions that speak to the diversity of the individuals who took part in the exhibit, including their background, their professional occupations and their residential neighbourhoods.  You’ll see San Sebastian through the eyes of a cooking student, a nun, a teacher, an architect, a police officer, an entrepreneur and a designer. All these individuals followed the same guidelines — for two weeks during the month of October, they took the city streets with disposable cameras and took pictures that answered eight different questions. 

Here are a few examples of the questions: What is your favourite spot in the city? Where do you meet up with other people? Where do you spend most of your time? What inspires you? The pictures they took are testaments of their daily lives. Many of the pictures were taken in parks and green spaces found throughout the city. There were also many pictures taken in intergenerational meeting points, such as the surrounding area around the port. Some individuals even invite us to come into their homes. 

We can draw a few conclusions from the exhibit. The most evident is that there are as many “San Sebastians” as there are people. Each space is interpreted through a unique lens, construed by the personal meaning each individual attributes to each location and actions that vary from person to person.  However, if you look closely you can spot commonalities, such as hopes and aspirations.  The exhibit also corroborates how “we all live in the same city which is shaped by the compilation and interaction of all these perspectives of the common spaces and of our coexistence,” points out Donostia Langunkoia. 

 “One hundred different points of view that enrich, nuance and highlight from different angles the places that exist, but sometimes we do not see. This initiative aims to be a sign that, inside our diversity, there are always factors that unite people. In this case, the city itself is a meeting point to create and make visible those connections. The vision of these 100 citizens helps us discover a San Sebastian where all of us has a place, regardless of our origins, profession or age. The exhibition is a mural and a mosaic of an imperfect, inclusive and dreamy Donostia”, says the mayor of the city, Eneko Goia, who attended the opening in the company of the exhibit participants, their families and friends. “These hundred perspectives provide an excellent example of the plurality and transversality MUGAK represents,” highlighted Pedro Astigarraga, the curator of MUGAK.

Contemporary Perspectives seeks to showcase these perspectives through pictures taken with disposable cameras, a clear indicator that the exhibit is not about showcasing photographic skills, but rather showcasing the multi-faceted perspectives a location can have.  In addition, no filters or touch ups were applied to the pictures on display.   

This exhibit is one of the last exhibits to be revealed within the MUGAK’s second edition programme. There are currently more than a dozen exhibits open to the public, centred on how architecture, urbanism or both disciplines combined, affect and interrelate with people. 

About Donostia Lagunkoia

Donastia Lagunkoia is a city plan that centres on the challenges and opportunities extended lifespans present and the impact of an ageing population on all spheres of city living.

Donostia Langunkoi's main mission is to build, within an ageing society, a city for all ages. It works in collaboration with a network of individuals and agents from varying backgrounds, who share the same objectives and values, and who are committed to building an age-friendly San Sebastian.


The Basque Country International Architecture Biennial (MUGAK, the Basque word for boundaries) hosts its second edition with more than 100 activities with the aim of bringing architecture closer to the general public and those who already have a relationship with the discipline. This event is organised by the Department for the Environment, Land Planning and Housing of the Basque Country and seeks to act as a pluralistic, transversal and multicultural meeting point to promote and rekindle dialogue and discussion to redefine new boundaries and shape a more ethical, fair and balanced society.

The Programme is being prepared