Funded by the Graham Foundation (2021-2023), and named after one of Puerto Rico’s largest sugary refineries dating back 200 years ago (1820-2003), “Coloso” is a web-based, virtual factory for users to produce digital monuments commemorating LGBTQ+ spaces in Puerto Rico. It aims to destabilize monuments as static representations of patriarchal, colonial ideals. Instead of immobile statues and architectural elements, “Coloso” reimagines monuments as distributable digital icons and data. Taking the form of 3D digital models, drawings, and animations, “Coloso’s” monuments exist freely on the internet where they can be generated, accessed, and shared by individuals, groups, and organizations. They can be uploaded and dropped into spaces in Google Maps, printed as posters, and laser-cut and 3D printed as objects to be folded, stacked, and assembled. Thus, through this project, the act of creating queer digital monuments both appropriates and rejects colonial ideals of memorialization; contests who and what is commemorated; democratizes who gets to decide and commission; and reimagines the very materiality of monuments.
“Coloso” critically reflects on the loss of LGBTQ+ spaces. But rather than simply looking back on them nostalgically, it gives them agency, distributing and immortalizing them through the internet for generations. Thus, the project aims to contribute to contemporary architectural discourse through the creation of a performative website that celebrates, commemorates, and registers LGBTQ+ architectures. By using the architectural typology of the monument as a tool to contest the displacement and ephemerality that defines Puerto Rican queer spaces, “Coloso” is a subversive tool advocating for permanence, claim and ownership, and the right to the the built environment.
The website performs as both a queer archive and an architectural research method. It enables user-generated content to materialize—using a unique kit of parts—into a digital “monument” which can be downloaded, screenshot, shared, laser-cut and/or 3D-printed. The project aims to explore digital and analogue, coding and making, process and play, and immateriality and permanence as queer, decolonial modes of conducting architectural research.
This project is collaborative between Regner Ramos and Kleanthis Kyriakou, through their research and design practice, Wet-Hard Agency.
Follow the project here.