Friday, August 23, 2013

Me and Martin

My father sent me the press blurb promoting Martin Filler's latest book, Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II. In the first paragraph I am quoted as follows:
"...longtime New York Review of Books contributor Martin Fille—“probably the best all-round architecture critic currently working in the United States,” according to the architectural journalist David Cohn—..."

And I thought, "How generous of me." Think of that, they had to go to all the trouble to look me up to find someone in the same field willing to say a nice thing about a fellow slogger.

Then I looked up where the quote came from, a blog entry dated April 14, 2012, in which I managed to follow that praise with some pretty nasty putdowns:

"The lengthy article, reviewing the recent show on Koolhaas at the Barbican Center in London,  includes interesting tidbits about Koolhaas' background, mentions his new book on Japanese metabolism, and offers an overview of his career. But the limitations of its North American perspective are finally disappointing."

"Typically, Filler is unable to appreciate Koolhaas' fascination for Wallace K. Harrison, Nelson Rockefeller's architect -- the most genuinely American cultural phenomena tend to be under-appreciated at home. He offers the usual politically-correct tisk-tisk-tisking about Koolhaas' work for the Chinese "dictatorship" (precisely the kind of lock-step intoning of American foreign-policy positions in the supposedly "liberal" American press that makes one wonder what they mean by "freedom of thought"). And of course Filler doesn't even register Koolhaas' enthusiasm for East Berlin prefab apartment slabs and other architecture of the Soviet era. (And this just when similar US projects like Pruit-Igoe are getting a second look by a new generation)."

So if he's so good and yet so bad, where does that leave all the other American writers? And where does that leave me in Spain? Sitting pretty, according to me. So much for my big generous spirit.

Know any drab Stalinist housing block I can move into for a period of atonement?

Pictured above:
Housing in Chisinau, Moldova
From Martin's Big Tour of Eurasia


Highlights of the XII Biennial

B Congress Center, Cartagena by selgascano. Photo: Iwan Baan

Announced last May, we present highlights from the 15 winning projects and 27 finalists of the XII Biennial of Spanish Architecture, for works completed between 2011 and 2012.

The jury was led by Fuensanto Nieto and Enrique Sobejano, and included Andrés Jaque, Sol Madridejos, Rafael Aranda (of RCR), Matthias Sauerbruch and Wilfred Wang.

All photos from the Biennial web page (visit it here).

Lalín City Hall by Mansilla + Tuñón

Campo de la Cebada, Madrid
This public garden on an empty lot owned by the city has been developed by an open, non-hierarchical collective of architects, neighbors, neighborhood associations and cultural groups. It is one of several such projects in the city's center.

Subsidized housing, San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante, by Aldredo Payá. Photo: David Frutos

Restoration, Hippodrome de la Zarzuela, Madrid by Junquera Architects
Eduardo Torroja's great thin-shell vaults, from 1936, part of Carlos Arniches and Martín Domínguez's design for the racetrack, restored by the firm that has restored other works by the architects in Madrid. The project is a functioning racetrack.

Pilgrimage Museum, Santiago de Compostela, by Manuel Gallego
"The building is not indifferent to its proximity to the Cathedral." 
"The route through the exhibition also leads towards a vision of the city and the Cathedral..." 
"Intensity is the necessary precondition for architecture."

Consolidation of Roman remains at Can Tacó, by Toni Gironés
The archeological site dates from the II Century BC and is located in a natural reserve in Montornès del Vallès, Barcelona.

School for Infants, Pamplona, by Pereda Pérez Architects. Photo: Pedro Pegenaute

Cineteca, Matadero, Madrid, by Churtichaga+Quadra-Salcedo Architects

Medialab-Prado, Madrid, by Langarita-Navarro Architects
Like the Matadero complex above, this is another restoration of an old factory in Madrid's center. And like many new cultural facilities around Spain, the project lacks funding to go into operation due to the crisis. Victor Navarro is the son of architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg (see next project).

Hertzian Library, Rome, by Juan Navarro Baldeweg
Built in the former gardens of the Palacio Zuccari, which were orignally part of the terraced gardens of Lúculo, a Roman villa, a circumstance that Navarro took into account in his design.

Local government offices, Zamora, by a team lead by Alberto Campo-Baeza

I've left out some urban projects in the above listings. 
From the finalists, the following projects looked interesting:

Recreation Center, Azuqueca de Henares, Madrid, by Ábalos+Sentkiewicz
 Iñaki Ábalos is the new Chair of the architecture department at Harvard's GSD.

Susidized housing, Coslada, Madrid, by Amann, Canovas + Maruri

Lounge Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico, by Cadaval & Solà-Morales

Youth Factory, Mérida, by selgascano

Subsidized housing, Sa Pobla, by José Ripoll + Juan Miguel Tizón

Restoration, Goián fort and river beach, Tomiño, Pontevedra, by Pablo Galleo Picard
Pedro is the son of architect Manuel Gallego (see above).

Dreamhamar, Norway, by Ecosistema Urbano

Friday, August 9, 2013

Javier Carvajal, 1926 - 2013

Business School, Barcelona, 1961. Wikicommons & U. of Navarra

I am behind on news stories that haven't made the jump between Spanish and English readers. The most important was the death last June 14th in Madrid of architect Javier Carvajal at the age of 87.

Carvajal was a key figure in the revival of modern architecture in Spain in the 1950s and 60s. He was an important model for the more abstract formalist work of many Spanish architects today - especially among those who share his conservative politics and religious values. His identification with the Franco regime in the tumultuous 1970s, in positions of power such as director of the Barcelona School of Architecture and the Madrid College of Architects, cost him dearly in later years.

Emblematic works include:
  •  Residential tower, Plaza de Cristo Rey, Madrid, 1954-58, with Rafael García de Castro (seen in the classic comic movie Los Tramposos of 1959, with Tony LeBlanc).
  • Business School, University of Barcelona, 1955-61, with García de Castro.
  • Pantheon to the Spanish Dead, Rome, 1957, with his brilliant contemporary, José María García de Paredes, a prelude to his stark, expressionist, abstract style of the 1960s.
  • Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Vitoria, 1958-60, also with García de Paredes.
  • Directed Settlement of Almendrales, Madrid, 1958-64, with García de Paredes, José Antonio Corrales and Ramón Vázquez Molezún. Pioneering public housing.
  • Spanish Pavilion, New York World's Fair, 1964.
  • A series of houses in northern Madrid in the 1960s, exemplified by his own house in Somosaguas,1964-65, where his expressionist style came into over-ripe maturity. It was the setting for Carlos Saura's claustraphobic 1969 movie La Madriguera.
  • Valencia Tower, Madrid, 1968-72, which provoked protests for intruding on views of the Retiro Park and the Puerta de Alcalá.  

Garcia-Valdecasas House, Somosaguas, 1965. Photo ©Jorge Losada

The story in the press:

Other interesting web pages:
  • Photos of late work by Jorge Losada 
  • Tallermuse blog: photos by Javier Villa, coll-barreu-arquitectos, Ekain Jiménez Valencia, Garikoitz Estornés and others, with texts and list of works on blog. All the photos below come from this source.

This and below, Carvajal House, Somosaguas 1965


Sobrino House, Aravaca 1966

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"AR House 2013" Award to Grupo Aranea

© Jesús Granada

Still catching up on my July articles, I wrote in The Architectural Review on the Lude House in Cehegín, Murcia by Francisco Leiva and Martín López Robles of Grupo Aranea, based in Alicante. The design shares AR's HOUSE 2013 Award (see the full article here).
"The spiral pull of the design carries visitors up to the roof, which visually connects the house to its natural setting, lifting it out of the mundane local streets to find its place in the wider world, almost like a Greek temple. Up on the roof, Francisco Leiva eagerly points out the sights, from the choppy roofscape of the houses below, invisible from the street, to the profile of the historic town center on its hill in the near distance, and the bowl of mountains and hills surrounding the town, with their orchards of apricots and other fruit trees, or cut by the terraces and tailings of marble quarries.... The overlapping, spiral movement of this little house is like that of a sprouting seed, an organic life force in vital contact with planet Earth."
AR House 2013 Joint Winner
Casa Lude, Spain by Grupo Aranea
The Architectural Review
Vol. CCXXXIII, No. 1397
July 2013, pages 30 - 37

The architects on the roof by DC

View of town with unfinished public water park

View of distant marble quarries from roof of house