Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tilt to Play

The April issue of architektur.akteull features my article on the BTEK Technology Center outside Bilbao by ACXT Architects, with Gonzalo Carro as Project Architect. It is the showcase for a high-tech business park, with exhibition spaces open to school visits and the general public. ACXT is the architectural division of the Spanish engineering giant IDOM.

The building is buried under its sloping site, emerging only in the triangular planes of its roofs, which tilt up as if they were hinged facets of the hillside itself.

Plattentektonik / Plate Tectonics
architektur.aktuell 361, 2010-04, April 2010. pages 66 - 75.
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Photo © Aitor Ortíz

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Black Prince

Estudio Entresitio's subsidized rental housing tower in the Vallecas Ensanche of Madrid is the subject of my latest article in Bauwelt: Wider den postmodernen Städtebau (Against Postmodern Urbanism), in Bauwelt 15.10, April 16, 2010, pages 26 - 31.

The tower was built by the Municipal Housing Authority of Madrid, and is probably the best of some 40 public housing projects completed or underway in the development.

It is an ambivalent monument, offering no illusions of utopia or mythic triumph, no narcotic thrill or calming anesthesia. Could it be proposing instead a new, post-Matrix realism, in which the precise, sensual facts of the architectural object attempt to shake us out of our media reveries and back into the present fallen world?

Photo © Roland Halbe, used with permission.
Two more pictures from the Bauwelt webpage.

Look here for a video of the building made by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza for the architects.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Museums in AV Monografías

The latest issue of AV Monografías, dedicated to new museums, includes my article on 12 museum projects from around the world.
Iconos reticentes: los proyectos que vienen / Upcoming Projects: The Reluctant Icon
Texts in Spanish and English.
AV Monografías 139, 2009, pages 24 - 33.

Like their proposal for the IVAM of Valencia and the New Museum in New York, the project is a Zen exercise in absent presences, as if the volumes containing the museum had been erased from the site instead of inserted into it.
–Louvre in Lens, France by Sejima & Nishizawa

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Upcoming Lecture

Next Tuesday, April 13th I will give the talk Manic Surges in Modern Capitalism: Architecture as Accomplice, Symptom and Response.

The talk is part of the Symposium Crisis and Cultural Change: XXIII Seminar on Anglo-North American Thought. It is sponsored by the Department of English Literature of the Complutense University of Madrid.

The talk is in English. It will be followed by a debate moderated by Fernando Rampérez, Professor of Philosophy at the Complutense. Time and place: 4:00 PM in the Salón de Grados of the Facultad de Filología y Filosofía, Edificio A, in the Ciudad Universitara of Madrid. More information:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

News: Toyo Ito Mud Baths in Limbo

The Spanish newspaper El País published a brief account on April 1st of the lamentable state of Toyo Ito's Relaxation Park in Torrevieja, Alicante (in Spanish).

The project, for a series of three shell-like pavilions for mud spa therapies beside Torrevieja's shore-front lagoon, was featured in the 2006 On-Site show on Spanish architecture at New York's Museum of Modern Art. It is being promoted by the municipal government. But the nation's Coastal Authority ordered the project halted for violating laws prohibiting new waterfront development. While the city seeks approval for a revised plan, the single pavilion built so far has been vandalized and is being occupied by "temporary refugees".

Ito has recently completed two towers for Barcelona's Porta Fira Fair complex in L´Hospitalet, a project for subsidized housing in the provincial capital of Logroño, and the first phase of the Gavia Water Park in Vallecas, Madrid, according to an interview with the architect by Anaxtu Zabalbeascoa published in El País on March 27th.

More project information, images on the Alicante journal ViA Arquitectura webpage (my thanks to them for the photo above). Early views of the Porta Fira towers can be found on Designboom.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Exhibits: Urban Malaise in Barcelona

A show at the always-interesting Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB): Atopia: Arte and City in the 21st Century (through May 24th). The hook: Director Josep Ramoneda's introduction:

With the exhaustion of Post Modern options and the failure of attempts to prolong the dogmatism of the avant-garde through the sterile substitution of ideological processes for art, art in the first decade of the 21st century has, in certain respects, returned to itself. Aesthetic ideas have returned, emotion has returned, and they have done so through a particular experience: the urban malaise. (DC translation)