Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From the Archives

© Melchor Sarasketa
My latest backdated story, Portrait of Old Madrid, Summer 1989, long in the writing and intended as part of a book on my adapted city that I later thought better about completing, was an exercise of immersion as a newcomer to Spain, taking the idea of Paolo Portoghesi's genius loci as a literary strategy.  The photographs were taken by Melchor Sarasketa as part of the project, and are used with his permission. 
"If there are cities of stone in Spain such as Salamanca and Santiago, and cities of light such as Cordoba and Sevilla, then old Madrid is a city of earth...."

To keep on reading, click here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Present Crisis and Glories Past

Articles for readers in both Spanish and English appear this week: The Architectural Review publishes my pundit piece (they asked for something "pithy") on the effect of the crisis on Spanish architecture (The Death of the Icon, it's alarmingly called; love the Brit's apocalyptic journalistic headline craft), and a review of the show on Jean Prouvé in Madrid, which appeared in the cultural supplement of El País this Saturday (Visionario y Pragmático).

On the crisis, I make a quick survey of the debris accumulated so far to conclude, among other things, that "the profession is clearly preparing itself for a period of contained, functionalist remorse, although it remains to be seen if politicians and voters will be capable of capturing the change in sensibility."

On the Prouvé show, organized by Norman Foster for his wife's Madrid gallery, I plot the interesting connections between Prouvé and Foster himself, as captured in "the photo of an older Prouvé heading the jury for the competition of the Pompidou Center in Paris, won by Foster's former associate Richard Rogers together with Renzo Piano. The photo seems intended to mark the changing of the guard between Prouvé, one of the original masters of the Modern Movement, and the High Tech generation to which Foster himself belongs, a generation that with this project took its first steps into the limelight."

Top photo: The Niemeyer Foundation in the northern post-industrial city of Avilés, yet another Guggenheimesque cultural center that will close after just six months of operation, due to local political squabbling. Photo from The Architectural Review.

Second photo: Construction shot of the Aeroclub Roland Garros in Bac, 1936, by Jean Prouvé and the architects Eugène Beaudouin and Marcels Lods, High Tech avant la lettre. Photo courtesy of Ivory Press Art + Books, © Fonds Jean Prouvé.