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In the July 14th issue of Bauwelt I write about a minimalist restoration job in Sevilla, the consolidation of the ruined 16th century Convent of Santa María de los Reyes.
"Rem Koolhaas has contemplated the concept of the restoration project as a semi-ruin in an exhibit at the 2005 Venice Biennial, in relation to his work at the Hermitage Museum. He asks, "Can a certain amount of inaction, a certain resistance to change, actually be instrumental in maintaining a degree of the authenticity so frequently erased during the process of modernization?" (1) "
"At another extreme, the artist Gordon Matta-Clark, chain saw in hand, appropriated abandoned New York buildings in the 1970s as a free field of transgressive action. For him, a ruined building was an inert corpse that he could redeem and transform, like a pioneer in a wasteland, forging a new utopian community of fellow artists in action."
"With their intervention at Santa Maria de los Reyes, Morales and De Giles fall somewhere between these approaches. The building's long abandon has resulted in a degree of deterioration that, one senses, has become a state in its own right, as far from an "authentic" window into the past as it is from a false resurrection. In their intervention in the garden, the architects assume some of the liberty of Matta-Clark – in this sense, their reference to his contemporary Michael Heizer is no coincidence. In the building itself, however, they allow the "bare bones" of the structure to speak for themselves: the traditional sequence of spaces, seen in similar historic structures in Seville, from the narrow confines of the medieval street to the private realm of the
Restaurieren am Nullpunkt
"Restoration Degree Zero"
Consolidation of the Convent of Santa María de los Reyes, Sevilla, by José Morales and Sara de Giles of MGM
Bauwelt 17.2017, July 14, 2017, pages 40 - 45
(Sorry, article not available on the web)