Spring 2006 - José Juan Barba
When everyone thought that the idea of a "place" had taken second place, one of the main events in the world of architecture serves to give it back its place. For this reason it would be almost impossible to start this text without commenting on the "On site" exhibition in the MoMA in New York.
The exhibition, one of the most important events for Spanish architecture in recent years, has focused, as its subtitle, "On site: new architecture in Spain", clarifies, on the works which have been carried out in our territory recently.
The importance of the exhibition, its important thrust and its extraordinary recognition of the work of architects working in Spain, cause certain doubts. Independently of the selection carried out for this exhibition, which could have been different without leaving out significant architects and works, and which could have been done with a greater theoretical intensity, the reality of what is happening in our country makes a closer analysis necessary, as close as the one we can do when we approach the "place" in which the architectural project is crystallized. And, if we remember something when we see the exhibit>tion, it is, without a doubt, the "place".
If we look at the definition of "site" in the Oxford dictionary, it says "ground chosen or used for a town or building". The title could mean "on the place" or "in the place". Given its ambiguous nature referring to theoretical structure, it is perhaps this aspect which concerns us more if we review -it is not necessary to pay much attention- the newspapers and television to see what is happening "on the place" in which one of the greatest processes of colonization and speculation of the territory is taking place.
Publications like those of Greenpeace, "Destruction at all Cost", analyze the processes of construction on the Spanish coast, which are much greater than those of the 70's. The current ones are the result of a model of economic growth to which, the 1997 State Ground Law gave support or its legal starting signal. In "theory" the economy asked for it as a basic need, because constructive activity and our country's main industry could not stop without causing an economic halt. In addition, in "theory", this law could bring down housing prices.
The territory was shown and became that context or support space for the colonization and water proofing which the new cowboys of cement and bricks have been doing in recent years, without it meaning, in fact quite the opposite, the lowering of prices or the resolving or lessening of the problem of housing.
Faced with a panorama like this, the territory, or more correctly, the town planning of the territory, has been ignored in the exhibition. The absence of theoretical concreteness in the exhibition, in this aspect, does not make it clear if this responds to the anodyne result which 99% of new town-planned areas show. The exhibition has been shown as an accumulation of "volumes under the sun". The photographs and models say hardly anything about the "place" of architecture, of its territory, of its urban planning even, if you like, of the metropolitan nature of architecture.
Despite construction being the main industry of the country, Spain used to be one of the areas in the European Union with most virgin territory or nature. The compact, dense and complex structure of the cities had led one to speak of a Mediterranean city model, which was not diffuse, not of oil slick growth, which in spite of a few fissures, has only been breaking in recent years.
In spite of this and of the fact that the activity of architecture exhibited in New York does not even represent 1 % of the construction activity in our country, the reflection of a possible architecture makes one think that in Spain, if one does not understand this exhibition as architectures' swan's song but rather the culture medium of what is yet to come, we should congratulate ourselves because the exhibition demonstrates, like the tip of an iceberg, that the instruments and a good breeding ground of architects exist, so that things, if they are focused on in a different way, will be able to be done much better with the territory.
We all hope that what some consider a solid link with the land, now that the European funds are beginning to move away towards the new members of the Union, is really shown as a true link with the territory through proposals that take root in the ground and not in the speculative development of infrastructures, instruments that should change from being veins of pollution of the territory to being a support which generates community life and dialogue with an environment which is not infinite and which we have to stop consuming as if it were inexhaustible.
Compared with the image of the Viollet-le-Duc' cabin, where stupefied men build the cabin in order to protect themselves from the place, I prefer the image of Laugier's hut, which takes the nature of the place as a reference for creating architecture.
Spring 2006 - José Juan Barba
METALOCUS-018 - José Juan Barba 4
A01. A Coruña Centre of the Arts. Corunna. - Acebo x Alonso 14
A02. The Great Veil of the Central Axis.New Milan Trade Fair Area. Rho - Pero. Milan. - Massimiliano Fuksas 22
A03. Topographies of Negotiation. "M-City" Exposition. Kunsthaus Graz. Austria. - ReD [Research + Design] 32
A04. Bioclimatic Boulevard. Vallecas. Madrid. - Belinda Tato, José Luis Vallejo, Diego García-Setien [ecosistemaurbano.com] 40
P01. Orquideorama. Project for the Exhibition of Orchids and Gardens. The Medellin Botanical Garden. - JP/CR - J. Paul Restrepo / Camilo Restrepo Ochoa; Plan:B - Felipe Mesa, Alejandro Bernal 48
P02. Arboretum Trompenburg. Erasmian Garden. Rotterdam. - West8 54
P03. Mediterranean Aviary and Tropical Terrarium. New Besòs Zoo. Barcelona. - EMBA_Estudi Massip-Bosch Arquitectes 58
P04. Espasa Beach Park. Fellow-Dining and Symbiosis. Asturias - Izaskun Chinchilla 62
A05. Pneumatic Structure for the Met Festival. Barcelona - Vicente Sarrablo 66
AA06. Inflatables - Max Streicher 72
A07. Huts - Mark Bentley 78
A08. A Dwelling and Studio for a Painter. Cartagena. Murcia. - Martín Lejárraga 82
A09. A Summer House in the Mar Azul Forest. Buenos Aires. - María Victoria Besonías, Guillermo de Almeida, Luciano Kruk 90
A010. S.E.T. “Station Extra-Territoriale". Poble Nou. Metalocus Award. - EXYZT 96
A011. Dwellings. Riera de San Miguel Nº 61. Barcelona. - Octavio Mestre 104
A012. Varsavsky House. La Moraleja. Madrid. - Acebo x Alonso 110
T/P01. A Refuge for Yoko Ono - Miguel Mesa 116
A013. Calle 10B Building. Medellín. Columbia. - JP/CR - J. Paul Restrepo / Camilo Restrepo Ochoa 127
T02. ON SITE. New Spanish Architecture. Moma. New York - Sara Topelson 130
T03. Town Planning or Architecture? Architecture and Town Planning! - Daniel Zarza 134
A014. It’s a Parasite! Prague Biennial Pavilion. - Giorgos Artopoulos, Stanislav Roudavski 140
A015. Extension of the Marks & Spencer Outlet. Valletta. Malta. - Architecture Project 146
AA016. Hotel Anglí. Barcelona. - Joaquín Diez-Cascón, Marta Recasens, Marina Diez-Cascón, Fernando Rial 150
AA017. Apothecae - www.apothecae.com - Gregorios Pharmakis 158