Thursday, September 8, 2011

Exhibitions: Jean Prouvé at Ivory Press

Luis Fernández-Galiano and Norman Foster get together again this fall to bring a show on Jean Prouvé to the Ivory Press Gallery in Madrid. From the web page on the show:
"From the originality of his earlier furniture to the sophistication of his later constructive systems, the oeuvre of the French genius is an example of committed engagement with prefabrication and industrialisation, and also serves as a bottomless source of inspiration.
The exhibition follows a chronological layout in ten sections, each one featuring original drawings and photographs accompanied by critical texts. The selection includes a wide range of furniture, architecture models and fragments of buildings, like his celebrated 6x6 house: a spectacular 1:1 scale prototype that is in turn a manifesto of Prouvé’s interest in lightness and prefabrication in architecture".

Exactly a year ago, the same team brought a remarkable show on Bucky Fuller to the gallery, which is run by Foster's wife, Elena Ochoa. The full-scale model of Prouvé's 6x6 house bids to match the interest of Foster's reproduction of the Dymaxion car seen there last year. 

Sept. 01 - Nov. 12, 2011
Ivorypress Art+Books Space I 
Comandante Zorita 48

To accompany the show, Fernández-Galiano's magazine AV Monografias has dedicated its latest issue, No. 149, to Prouvé.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Embryonic New New Urbanism

Babelia, the weekly cultural supplement of the Spanish newspaper El País, has published an article in which I use the interesting urban strategy of the Rafal High School, by the Grupo Aranea, to point out the overlooked crisis in urban planning that has accompanied the crisis in high-stakes architectural follies (link).

While young architects are taking another look at Brutalism, they are also taking another look at Team X planning ideas, briskly discredited in the 1970s for their glaring social failures, and replaced by the Post Modern nostalgia for the 19th century city, a model that in Spain has become an empty technical formula.

Significantly, Spanish examples of garden-city towers and low-rise clusters from the 1960s , free of streets, cars and city blocks, have generally not suffered the degradation and abandonment of their American and English counterparts, as Spain has so far lacked the underlying social conflicts that fed these failures. And in Spain, public authorities have an enormous power in determining the shape and content of urban development. So why not take another look at those wonderful ideas of the 50s and 60s for creating sophisticated spaces of local, public interaction among neighbors, free of cars and not necessary beholden to commerce or speculation?

El urbanismo de vanguardia contraataca
"Avant-garde Urbanism Counter-attacks"
High School in Rafal, Alicante by Grupo Aranea.
El País, Saturday, September 3, 2011, Babelia, Number 1032, page 18.

Photo by architect Francisco Leiva of Grupo Aranea, showing the standoff between the architects' Rafal High School and a crass urban development in the coastal province of Alicante.