Saturday, August 12, 2017

Vázquez Consuegra's CaixaForum Sevilla

Photo courtesy Guillermo Vázquez Consuegra
The theme of my latest article in architektur.aktuell is "the limits of  even the best architecture in the face of an inappropriate site." Excerpts from the text:

"The story of how the CaixaForum ... ended up in a basement is a tortuous one. In 2009, Vázquez Consuegra won a limited competition to install the Forum in the dramatically-vaulted medieval ship-building halls of the Atarazanas Reales. The proposal provoked concerns for the historic integrity of the building, a dispute abetted by political infighting among local administrations. Apparently unhappy with the controversy and the lack of progress, La Caixa pulled out of the deal in 2012, and announced instead a plan to install the center in the Pelli tower. (The Atarazanas is currently being converted into a city-run cultural center, also designed by Vázquez Consuegra, and with a 10 million euro donation from the Caixa Foundation)."

"The Pelli tower had fallen into the hands of La Caixa in the same year, when it took over Cajasol, a local savings bank that had initiated the project in the boom years of the 2000s and had collapsed with the crash."

The existing buildings are clad in glass and terra-cotta-colored metallic elements, and the plaza between them is finished with rather vulgar cement pavers. Vázquez Consuegra responds with his characteristically cool, silvery surfaces. He clads the entry canopy in panels of  Stabilized Aluminum Foam (SAF), spongy and lightweight in appearance. For his addition to the finger, he uses elements of galvanized aluminum, breaking the horizontal lines of the Pelli building with vertical shading fins.

"The canopy's forms are redolent of all the qualities that neither it nor the spaces below it possess: an excavated, carved solid, vaulted and heavy, references that may also remind us of the vaults of the Atarazanas Reales. And yet the canopy is clearly nothing of the sort. It is a ghostly evocation of tectonic muscle, rendered in a space-age material for a junkspace setting: a true architectonic poetics for our time."

In Search of Place
CaixaForum Sevilla by Guillermo Vázquez Consuegra
architektur.aktuell 449, July - August 2017, pages 66 - 77