The Spanish pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale spotlights the country’s agro-architectural infrastructure, with imagery by photographer Pedro Pegenaute.
Pegenaute visited over 50 sites across the country to create a photography series that reveals the buildings and landscapes involved in producing everyday food products.
The photos form part of a research project called Total Recipes, which looks at 10 classic Spanish dishes and reveals the entire infrastructural chain involved in sourcing or producing each ingredient.
The series was commissioned by architects Eduardo Castillo-Vinuesa and Manuel Ocaña, curators of this year’s Spanish pavilion exhibition, Foodscapes.
With the tagline, “By eating, we digest territories”, the exhibition shines a light on Spain’s extensive food production systems and the architecture that facilitates them.
Each of the Total Recipes was selected and investigated by a different architectural studio, but Pegenaute was tasked with producing photographs for all 10. This involved visiting more than 50 different sites in Spain and beyond.
Among them were a sweet-flavouring laboratory in Barcelona, a shipyard in Viga, a pig farm in Salamanca and a cork production facility in Portugal.
In a Dezeen exclusive, Pegenaute has selected a favourite shot for each recipe. Read on to see all 10:
Recipe: Drinking Forests: a Metabolic Recipe of Wine
Project author: Urbanitree (Daniel Ibañez, Vicente Guallart) and Manuel Bouzas
Location: Finsa, Santiago de Compostela
For a recipe highlighting the role of forests in the production of wine, Pegenaute visited manufacturers of timber and cork products.
“This photo captures the pine log collection area at the Finsa factory and the start of the production line for the wooden crates used for wine bottles,” said Pegenaute.
“The tongs of a lorry lift these like chopsticks and deposit them on a conveyor belt of another machine that skins them until they are bare. From there, they will go through different processes until, in this case, they are turned into wooden wine crates.”
Recipe: Traces of Almojábanas
Project author: Lucía Jalón Oyarzun
Location: Lucta, BarcelonaThis project saw Pegenaute explore the factories involved in the production of Almojábanas, a type of fritter made from flour and cheese, coated with cinnamon and honey.
“This is where the raw materials used as ingredients for the production of liquid flavourings for human consumption are stored and sorted. For several days after my visit, every time I opened the
Project author: S&AA (Federico Soriano, Dolores Palacios)
Location: Planta Biometanización, PintoThis recipe explores the practices of reusing leftover food, and of producing fermented or autolysed food. Ingredients are macerated using Garum sauce, a strong-flavoured condiment. The project took Pegenaute to a biomethanation and composting plant on the outskirts of Madrid.
Project author: Aldayjover (Iñaki Alday, Margarita Jover, Jesús Arcos, Francisco Mesonero)
Location: Presa de Susqueda, GironaA project tracing the impact of paella led to a river delta in Girona and the architecture involved in managing it.
“This is the interior of the Susqueda Dam, built on the Ter River by the engineer and architect, Arturo Rebollo in 1968,” said Pegenaute.
“The interior of this signature dam has the capacity to touch your emotions. Its silence is deafening; only the dripping of the rain filtering in from a corner could be heard.”
Recipe: Protein Clickbait for the 14 Percent
Project author: Common Accounts (Igor Bragado + Miles Gertler)
Location: Granja Valle de Odieta, Caparroso, Navarre
An exploration of the whey protein powder used to make protein shakes took Pegenaute to dairy industry structures used to grow herd feed, raise cows and extract milk.
“This is the interior of the largest rotary milking parlour in Spain, which belongs to the Valle de Odieta farm in Caparroso,” said the photographer.
Recipe: Polbo á Granxa (Galician-Style Octopus)
Project author: Institute for Postnatural Studies (Gabriel Alonso, Pablo Ferreira Navone, Yuri Tuma, Matteo Guarnaccia, Karol Poliwka, Clara Benito)
Location: Puerto de Corme, A Coruña
“This is Rosa, who is making an octopus pot in the hangar where the women who form the Asociación de mujeres Tejedoras de Nasas work,” he said.
Recipe: Txipirones en su Tinta (Squid in its Ink)
Project author: GFA2 (Guillermo Fernández-Abascal) and Fake Industries (Urtzi Grau)
Location: Astillero Freire, VigoThe global logistics involved in producing tinned squid include fishing in the South Atlantic Blue Hole, freezing in Indonesia and Yemen, packaging in the north of Spain, and shipping around the world.
“This is the ship-access scaffolding,” he said. “Without a ship to climb, this ladder will take you wherever your imagination wants to go.”
Project author: Ivan L Munuera, Pablo Saiz del Río and Vivian Rotie
Location: Delta del Ter, Basses d’en Coll, GironTo trace the geographies involved in gluten-free bread, the recommended accompaniment to a type of medical treatment called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), Pegenaute visited locations where ingredients are sourced.
“This is a rice paddy flooded by water from the Ter River Delta,” said Pegenaute.
“I am a huge fan of this kind of photograph because of the semi-abstraction. You have to spend time looking at it to see what it shows.”
Recipe: Ghost Tortilla
Project author: Lucia Tahan
Location: Granja Legaria, Navarra
With “ghost kitchens” tapping into the demand for traditional Spanish dishes on delivery, Pegenaute looked at the infrastructure behind egg production.
“These are hens for egg production at the Legaria Farm in Navarra,” said the photographer.
“In this space, the clucking of the hens in unison is a soft sound with a contained volume, but it is precisely this, in addition to its constancy, that makes it strident.”Recipe: Total Recipe for (Eating) Croquetas de Jamón (in the Future)
Project author: C+ Arquitectas (Nerea Calvillo, María Buey González, Manuel Alba Montes)
Location: Finca El Encinar de Montejo, Salamanca
For a project exploring the ingredients of the popular Spanish croquette, Pegenaute visited a breeding facility for the Iberian pigs that supply the pork.
“Some will see a window, and others what it hides behind its dirt,” said the photographer.
The Venice Architecture Biennale takes place from 20 May to 26 November 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for information about the event, plus a list of other architecture and design events taking place around the world.