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A team of scientists, anthropologists, historians, designers and engineers design the Cerdà Year time capsule. Presentation of the design of the first macro-collective time capsule from Barcelona. The capsule will be sealed in 80 days’ time, and will contain messages left by residents, so far more than 1,800, about what they imagine the city will be like in the year 2159, when the capsule will be opened again. The capsule will also contain all the information collected during the Cerdà Year, including documents from the year 1859. Barcelona, March 2010 — The 150th anniversary of Ildefons Cerdà’s Reform and Expansion Plan for Barcelona is celebrated with the barcelona2159 project: a time capsule for the city.

The capsule will hold messages left by

The capsule will contain messages

the people of Barcelona, via the website,

for the future left by the people, sent by post

of Barcelona on the website

to PO box 2159, 08080 Barcelona, or

recorded on the videomaton that is doing the rounds in the city. Just like Cerdà, today’s residents can imagine how the city will be in the future, in 150 years’ time, when the capsule will be re-opened.

The time capsule will be sealed shut on 10th June and re-opened

Also inside will be all the information gathered during the Cerdà Year: pieces from exhibitions held, material from the media published for the commemoration, and even copies of Cerdà’s original documents from 150 years ago, dated 1859. The capsule will hold documents and materials related to a period of 300 years. All the information will be stored in optical format, except for just 10 postcards that will be selected from all the post sent in by residents. The capsule is scheduled to be finished in May and sealed shut on 10th June. Project barcelona2159 is backed by Barcelona local authority.

Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

in 150 years.

CRITERIA FOR BUILDING THE CAPSULE The scientific committee have met several times since October under the direction of Javier Peña, Scientific Director at Mater, researcher for the BIBITE group and lecturer at Elisava and UPC, to discuss the ways that best conserve collective memory, such as oral tradition and written records. Many idea and proposals about the future have been shared: how will we live in 150 years’ time, what will be the main concerns of the people of Barcelona, and whether issues of today, such as sustainability, will still be relevant. One of the principal themes of these discussions has been how to ensure the contents are

The scientific committee has

still legible in 150 years, as digital formats will evolve enormously in that time, and many of

decided to store the information in

today’s uses will disappear. One question was the need to hide or bury the capsule, as we

optical format, with a reader and

now have methods of protecting it against the open air. Modern methods of preservation

solar batteries, and sealed with

such as protecting the contents with nitrogen, isolating them from oxygen and humidity, have


been considered, and an original idea was to use solar energy to power the capsule so that it will function independently whatever technology is being used in 150 years’ time. The design is an iconographic representation of the concept of a time capsule. As well as being a container that holds all the messages left by the people of Barcelona for the future, it also serves as a remote timer that interacts with the public. The characteristics that make this a unique time capsule in the world are: — The capsule is open to everybody, and people can leave whatever information they like. This is possible because there will be no physical objects stored; just messages

The capsule is open for anybody

in the form of text, image and video.

who wishes to leave a message.

— The capsule will open manually a little at a time. Once a year it will be necessary to activate a mechanism that will gradually open the capsule.

Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

THE CAPSULE The capsule measures 2 metres tall by 1.1 metres wide, large enough to encourage the public to be involved during the time it is conserved and to make it easier to find when the opening date arrives. The exterior is protected by a coating of stainless steel to conserve against rust. This outside layer is divided into two independent parts (a base and a container), separated by an engraved message in code that tells the origin and motivation behind the capsule. The engraving also represents the time that the information should remain hidden and the mystery of the coded message, unsolvable until 150 years from now. The capsule is

smooth and solid-looking, with a simple shape that is marked only by the engraved strip, all adding to the feel of mystery. On the barcelona2159 Facebook page people can put forward their ideas for the phrase that will be engraved on the capsule. But the chosen message will not be discovered until the capsule is opened in 150 years’ time. The system used to store the information and to recover it 150 years in the future is based on mechanics. The upper part of the capsule is attached or removed using a wheel on the

side. Once a year the wheel must be turned manually once and the mechanism that seals the two parts will move 362.4 degrees. This movement must be completed 150 times before the two parts can be separated to discover the information hidden inside. In the base of the capsule there will be a lead box containing an air-tight glass cylinder filled with nitrogen. Inside will be all the information stored in optical format with a corresponding reader and solar-powered electric batteries to power the reader if necessary. The nitrogen will create an inert atmosphere that will preserve the components and protect against rust. The reader and the solar-powered batteries will provide an independent power
 source so that the equipment can work regardless of the technology used in 150 years from now. Messages can be left in the form of text, video, or images, and all will be stored alongside the information gathered during the Cerdà Year. The lead box will also hold 10 real postcards sent by people by normal post.

Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

The shape of the capsule as seen from a distance is actually created by just half a capsule, and as people approach they will see that it is the reflection on the floor that gives the illusion

of a complete capsule. People will also see their own reflections in the capsule, like a mirror that returns a poetic image of their ancestors and the messages they left.

WHERE WILL IT BE KEPT? It has been decided not to bury the capsule, as we now have the technology and materials to guarantee the capsule’s preservation and resistance in the open air. The expert committee also felt it was important for the capsule to be visible, where people can visit it until the opening in 150 years. The place where it will be sealed and kept will be revealed on 10th June, the date that marks the end of the Cerdà Year.

Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

THE EXPERT COMMITTEE A multidisciplinary expert committee has been created to determine the ideal technical requirements for storing the messages in good condition for 150 years. The Cerdà Year technical office has collaborated in this analysis and signed an accord with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC). The team of experts began their investigations last October into the format in which to store the information, to guarantee its legibility in 150 years’ time, and how this 
 information will be preserved.

The committee at its first meeting

Once decided, the team of industrial designers and engineers defined the capsule’s physical form and preservation, as well as the mechanisms for sealing and re-opening the capsule in the year 2159. The expert committee has included the following members: Antoni Roca: UNESCO chairholder of technology and culture at the UPC. Josep Angel Blat Gimeno: Director of the department of information and communication technology at the UPF. Adrià Pujol: Anthropologist, writer and documentalist. President of the Observatory of Everyday Life. Jordi Pardo: Barcelona Media. Centre of Innovation. Valerie Bergeron: Director of the Mater FAD Materials Centre. Raquel Pelta: Design historian. Lecturer at the UB. ONIS: Work group formed by young designers and engineers. Núria Coll: Industrial designer. Lecturer at the Elisava School of Design. Susana Garelik: Director of the Technology Transference Unit at the ICMAB-CSIC. Elías Molins: Research expert at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Committee directed by scientist Javier Peña, Scientific Director at Mater, researcher for the UPC BIBITE group and lecturer at the Elisava School of Design and UPC.

Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

SOME DISCARDED BARCELONA2159 CAPSULES From its specialised research, the barcelona2159 engineering and industrial design team came up with several design proposals for storing the messages and information about the Cerdà Year. Proposals were rejected for various reasons. These are some of the ideas considered:

Nature Capsule Of a spherical shape and with an





disintegrate over time, gradually exposing the genuine capsule.

 Golden Capsule In the shape of a golden spiral, it is also a display area at the end of which the capsule is found.

 Mediterranean Capsule With





element, it uses a refraction effect to reveal the capsule to the eye.


Kaleidoscope Capsule A room that holds the hidden audio messages, while the capsule is found in a compartment that is closed with a concealed key on a time-lock.

 Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

OTHER CAPSULES AROUND THE WORLD Barcelona is not the only city to have a time capsule. Similar schemes have been started all over the world. Some of the best known are:

Westinghouse Time Capsules

Period encapsulated: 1939-6939 The two Westinghouse time capsules were made by Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company. The first was created to promote the 1939 New York World’s Fair, and the second for the fair held in 1964. The capsules were made from an alloy of annealed copper, chrome and silver, and both are buried 50 feet below the fair site. The two capsules are to be opened at the same time, in the year 6939, five thousand years after the first capsule was sealed in 1939. The contents are made up of five basic collections: small articles of daily use, textiles and materials, various objects, an essay on microfilm and newsreels. The 1964 capsule includes everyday articles and information about atomic energy and scientific advances. The 1939 capsule also contains predictions for the future from Albert Einstein.

Capturing time: The New York Times Capsule

Exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History promoted by the New York Times, to be opened in the year 3000.

The exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History was held between December 1999 and April 2000, and when it closed, the time capsule remained permanently at the museum. The paper’s editors held a competition to design the time capsule, in which people had to think of a way to preserve information until the next millennium, the year 3000. Some 50 designers, architects and engineers from 15 countries presented their ideas in the competition, using concepts that varied from the practical to the mystical, and a jury selected the design made by Santiago Calatrava. The exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History coincided with the publication of the millennium’s last New York Times.

 Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

Time Capsule 1970, Japan.

Period encapsulated: 1968-6968 For the celebration of the Japan World Exhibition, two Japanese companies, the Panasonic Corporation and the press group Mainichi Newspapers, agreed to work together on a project, in which two identical capsules were buried at Osaka Castle. The upper capsule was opened in 2000 to examine the condition of the contents, and the lower capsule will remain sealed for 5000 years. Both parts were subjected to technical tests and will be opened every 100 years in order to guarantee the preservation of the contents. With the aim of reflecting everyday life in 1970, a team of scientists, engineers and historians stored 2,000 objects inside each capsule. Some noteworthy objects are a silk condom, a set of false teeth, a glass eye, insects preserved in resin, an origami instruction book, a pair of handcuffs and some

counterfeit money.

As well as these time capsules, recent history has seen the invention of many others, such as the Paris Opera time capsule (1907-2007), the Crypt of Civilisation in Georgia, USA (1940-8113), the Burbank Capsule in California (1959-2009), the General Dynamics in San Diego, California (1963-2063), the Helium Centennial Time Columns, in Amarillo, Texas (1968-2968), and the Disneyland Castle of Time (1995-2035). The Cerdà Year is nearing the end of its cycle, and will finish on 10th June 2010. Until then messages can be left, and others’ messages can be read, on the website On 10th June all the messages, together with the information gathered from the activities of the past year, will be placed for storage inside the capsule.

Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

CREDITS - Management Marta Grabulosa / CCCB Luchy Miquel y Rocío Rubio / Ajuntament de Barcelona - Original Idea and Creative Direction Carlitos y Patricia - Art Direction Karen Heuter - Project Manager Llibert Figueras - PR and Press Felices Communicology&PR - Audio Visual Production and Capsulemathon Booth Mirinda Films - Web Design HerraizSoto&Co - Scientific Direction Javier Peña - Industrial Design ONIS - Online Buzz Bloguzz Jordi Ventura - Media Buying MPG

Premsa barcelona2159 Maite Felices 630 88 28 70 Mar Hernández 609 59 05 12

The Cerda Year Time Capsule  

Presentation of the design of the first macro-collective Time Capsule from Barcelona. The capsule will contain messages left by residents ab...

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