Saturday, February 4, 2012

How Not to Exhibit Architecture

Arquitectura española (1975 - 2010) 
35 años construyendo en democracia

Spanish Architecture (1975 - 2010) 
35 Years of Building in Democracy

La Arquería, Madrid
Through May 7

Whew. 230 projects by 130 studios in chronological order. Miles of panels with projects crammed together, under-presented and under explained, together with 65 models of different scales and quality, lined up in a long double row like so-much used furniture at an auction.

Like so many shows on Spanish architecture, it's the usual general round-up of likely suspects.

Criteria of selection?
None given.

There's not even a single essay in the catalog.
Although a reporter from El País (Feb 2, 2012) interviewed one of the organizers, and it turns out they do have a vision for the show.
Who would have guessed?

  • Antonio Ruiz Barbarin + Héctor Barrio, Curators
  • Organized by the Ministry of Development's Department of Architecture and Housing Policy (which offers a list of participating architects here).
  • Financed by Repsol (whose new Madrid  headquarters by Rafael de La-Hoz ends the show) and the ACS Foundation, a construction firm headed by Florentino Perez,  President of the Real Madrid soccer team.
I think the case could be made that architecture should not be presented in exhibitions. Put it in a book. Study it, research it, think, write, explain, defend, sell. The usual "visual thinking" of the architect is never enough. 

Only an extraordinarily focused show with original research and documents, such as models, mock-ups, building details and beautiful drawings, seems worth the trouble. The models here were the only material that offered something original and unique.

Skyline Housing Cooperative, Madrid 
Aranguren + Gallegos and Maiz + Herrada.
Source: El País


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