Spanish design brand Roca has created the (new) new showroom

Madrid – Since 2009, Spanish bathroom design brand Roca has commissioned seven international 'Galleries' that give more than lip service to synthesizing culture and commerce. Having hosted more than 1500 events in a decade, from master classes and design competitions to lectures, art exhibitions and documentary screenings, the galleries have proven to be a genuinely fresh approach to the showroom format.

In July, however, Roca extended this mission even further by launching a virtual gallery that makes Gallery content – and much more  – accessible to anyone, anywhere.

[This virtual gallery is] a space of reflection, of debate, an extension of our Gallery philosophy to a virtual environment

A small city inside the Walden 7 building designed by architect Ricardo Bofill from the article 'Small City Architecture: Walden 7 as a Social Network' in the Views on Architecture section. Photo ©Gregory Civera

Notably and entirely absent from the digital gallery is any retail function. 'The Galleries, seen as spaces for physical debates, generate a large amount of interesting content that can be transferred to the internet,' said Xavier Torras, Roca's brand communication director. 'It is, rather, a space of reflection, of debate, an extension of our Gallery philosophy to a virtual environment.'

To create the online platform, Roca engaged a rotating committee of seven international experts, including architects Raya Ani and Jane Duncan, urbanist John Palmesino and author Jonathan Bell, to meet yearly to identify, research and analyze current trends and issues. They determine themes and topics to be addressed related to the challenges professionals must now face when thinking of the future: life in the oceans, the future of consumerism, the changing meaning of connectivity. A stable of more than 30 writers, from student design competition winners to the executive director of the American Institute of Architects New York, creates content that changes weekly, offering critical commentary and many points of view. 'The site's richness lies precisely in the versatility of the content,' Torras explained.

In order of appearance: from an article about the afterlife of architecture in The Future, 'The Rebirth of the Fez Medina', Place Lalla Yedounna, photograph by Omar Chennafi; the Abyss Table by Duffy from 'Sea Objects' in Eye on Design; urban hydroponia from 'Hydroponics Cultivates Food Without Soil' in Sustainable World.

With strong photography, charming illustrations and luminous color, a tagline that emphasizes 'sharing knowledge' and a crisp, easy-to-use layout, its four sections and the news-ier Update Inspiration area explore a broad spectrum of topics: in Views on Architecture, a meditation on the creative power of water by an architectural student; in Eye on Design, a dip into inventive new ways to 'bury' our loved ones sustainably; in The Future, neuroarchitecture and ocean clean-up projects; and in Sustainable World, bioclimatic design and architecture's shifting role during the massively destructive Anthropocene era.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the platform, after its diversity of content and content creators, is that for all the bad news it focuses on in highly informed and high-definition detail, it offers heartfelt ways to imagine our way forward toward solutions and even revolutions – instead of depressing and paralyzing, it is a gallery of the inspiring and the enlightening.

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