Sunday, March 10, 2013

Invisible Architecture

© Juan Rodríguez
 I've been writing occasionally for the weekend cultural supplement of El País, Spain's leading moderately progressive newspaper. Recently they've appointed a new arts editor and he's asked me to write on a more regular basis. The first article in this new commitment came out on Saturday, March 9th.

A PDF copy of the article can be found here (thanks to (Arquitectura Viva).

It  takes a look at some of the perverse effects of the media, especially the popular media, which promote the most exaggerated effects in architecture, while more considered work is rendered invisible. I develop the argument from two examples, a house in Portugal featuring light courts for the underground bedrooms 3 meters deep and without balustrades or any other protection,
and a social housing project in the northern Basque city of Vitoria, both illustrated here. The first is by Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus, and the second by Manuel de las Casas, with his daughter and son, Iciar and Sergio.

Here's a quote:
"Una tarea básica del crítico es la de examinar su propio papel dentro de su particular especialidad, de mantener una vigilancia crítica sobre el impacto de su propia mirada. Ante la pérdida generalizada de confianza en la manera de hacer arquitectura que sufre España en estos momentos, este papel de autocrítica se hace más relevante que nunca. En un proceso darviniano y de efectos perversos, los medios han llegado a funcionar como un mecanismo de retroalimentación para fomentar las tendencias más extravagantes, mientras condenan a otras a la oscuridad. Y quizás las claves de una renovación de la arquitectura se encuentran precisamente dentro de ese lado oscuro e ignorado."
 An American reader put the argument succinctly in a recent letter:
"It reminds me of a remark of Ken Frampton's last week discussing the state of architecture, with great delight he said he was given to understand that Denmark is now producing some 'boring" buildings.'"
So, here's a toast to boring buildings for a change.

Cegados por la arquitectura mediática
"Blinded by the Media"
El País, Saturday, March 9, 2012
Babelia cultural supplement, page 15

The New Organicism

The March issue of The Architectural Review (London) has published my article Concrete Arabesque on the Andalusian Space for Contemporary Creation in Córdoba, Spain by Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano. It's not on the web yet, but here's an excerpt:
"This repetitive cellular design, non-hierarchic and "isotropic" in the terminology of the architects, belongs to one of the more interesting developments in contemporary Spanish architecture, the return to organicism. Inspired by Bruno Zevi's 1945 book, Towards an Organic Architecture, and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto, Spanish organicists in the 1950's and 60's used many of the same ideas, as seen in José A. Corrales and Ramón V. Molezún's honeycomb-like Spanish Pavilion at the 1958 Universal Exhibition in Brussels, or the hypostyle hall of José María García de Paredes' 1964 Almendrales Church in Madrid."

"In the past decade, a number of Spanish architects have stepped away from functionalist or minimalist formulas to return to such ideas, most notably Luis Mansilla and Emilio Tuñón in their 2005 MUSAC Museum in León."

I'll be writing more on this theme elsewhere in the near future.

Concrete Arabesque
Andalusian Space for Contemporary Creation
Córdoba, Spain
Architects, Fuensanta Nieto and Enrique Sobejano
The Architectural Review
Vol. CCXXXIII, No. 1383, March 2013, pages 62 - 73

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Call for Entries

Record Interiors 2013 
2013 Record Interiors The editors of Architectural Record are currently inviting submissions for 2013 Record Interiors issue.
Deadline: May 31, 2013.

Kitchen & Bath 2013 

2013 Kitchen & Bath The editors of Architectural Record are currently inviting submissions for the 2013 Record Kitchen & Bath Competition.
Deadline: May 31, 2013.

For more info and to enter, click here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Therapeutic Space

Upper garden. Photos © Duccio Malagamba
 Architectural Record has published my article on the Rey Juan Carlos Hospital in Móstoles, Spain in their March issue. The full article can be read here.

"Behind the eye-catching design of the 969,000-square-foot Rey Juan Carlos Hospital in the Madrid suburb of Móstoles, Spanish architect Rafael de La-Hoz has created a therapeutic atmosphere, organizing the building around accessible atria that help orient patients and immerse them in a protective, inward-looking environment. These spaces also ensure that all patient areas have direct access to natural light...."
Entry atrium