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Tema - Crítica de la arquitectura
Tema - entornos de arquitectura
Jaume Prat avatar
1

I have not found the work citing this, but I have no reason to doubt the architect who told it to me.

2

Architect Josep Quetglas, some five or six years ago at the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB).

3

Leibniz would say monads.

About critics 1/4: the Work

Critique of any discipline, or of architecture in this case, is a powerful tool as it put into focus and sets priorities for what is to be examined, and how it is to be examined. It, or should distil this in substantial explanatory discourse. Its first choice is to talk about one particular work and not another. A reflection on critique’s role in society, a revision of its influence on the definition of a discipline, is what motivates this series of blogs, a critique of critics structured into four parts. This fist blog discusses the work as the prime object of critique.

A certain architect from an influential Spanish firm told me the following anecdoteIsaac Asimov, who used to complement his earnings as a writer as a guest speaker for different institutions all around the United States of America, found himself with nothing to do one afternoon in an unnamed middling sized city.1 Strolling about aimlessly he stumbled upon a conference about his work and decided to attend. When the floor opened up for questions, Asimov took the floor and publically disagreed with the speaker’s line of argument. The speaker replied that the fact that Asimov wrote the work did not necessarily give him enough knowledge to speak about it with perspective.

The architect who told me about this maintains a critical position about his work. This position, based on a love for work well done, takes on a highly instrumental nature. Criticism confers context, a position in the world and a questioning of the work done that allows the next design to piggyback on the previous one and, in succession, the works are distilled, adapted, perfected, and better works are put forward.  All good architects share this critical spirit toward their works. This same critical spirit, enabling them to do this hard, arduous constant work, prevents them in nearly all cases from interpretations attaching transcendence to the work beyond the purpose for which it was built, circumscribed to a given physical, social and economic context. Transcendence would make the works valid beyond their direct area of influence.

That is the job of the critic.

The work, understood as an intervention, design, track record, or modest group of designs by more than one architect, is at the heart of and serves as the starting point for the critic’s critique. There are two fundamental ways in which critics can approach the work.

First, the critic takes on the attitude of a craftsman (let’s say a cobbler 2) vis-à-vis the work. The criticism is instrumental and serves in the production of further work. This type of critique takes the work apart from its physical, social and economic context and synchronises it with other works done in other times and other places, with other briefs, structures and materials, taking the approach of a pool of work. Thus, critiqued works are material for building. Because they are cumulative bodies prioritised according to the architect’s interests, they are a substrate shaping new works. The objective is positive comparison, dialogue between the works on the same plane in order to arrive at a repertoire of solutions, an ability to respond that allows the architect to design better. The result is incorporated in that attributeless magma shaping what we call architecture’s monemes.3

The second approach considers everything that this first approach does not, and will be the subject of the second article in this series.


Text translated by Beth Gelb
Notas de página
1

I have not found the work citing this, but I have no reason to doubt the architect who told it to me.

2

Architect Josep Quetglas, some five or six years ago at the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB).

3

Leibniz would say monads.

Autor:
(Barcelona, 1975) Arquitecto por la ETSAB, compagina la escritura en su blog 'Arquitectura, entre otras soluciones' con la práctica profesional en el estudio mmjarquitectes. Conferenciante y profesor ocasional, es también coeditor de la colección de eBooks de Scalae, donde también es autor de uno de los volúmenes de la colección.

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