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Tema - entornos de arquitectura
Tema - patrimonio
1

Last year the demolition of the well-known CLESA factory in Madrid (Alejandro de la Sota, 1961) received a great deal of attention, as recently did the controversial intervention on the Real Club Náutico in San Sebastián (Aizpurúa and Labayen, 1929).

2

A few days ago, word came out regarding the imminent demolition of the Zamora Hospital Chapel in order to meet the capacity for a parking lot provided for in the Master Urban Planning Plan through new refurbishing. This work, however, is not recorded in the DOCOMOMO census, nor in its extensive catalogue of catalogue of 20th century Architecture. This is why we call for developing a scientific methodology to address the problem in the event of any such action. This will bolster vindications made by the public of Zamora.

3

See the article “La privatización de la democracia” (The privatisation of democracy) by Jaume Prat on the design for new towers to be built beside Le Corbusier ‘s Chandigarh Capitol Complex, just one example of the threats posed to architectural and landscape heritage.

Do we properly appreciate our Modern Architectural Heritage?

Screenshot of the entry “patrimonio arquitectónico definición”, from April 2015

If any of us does a Google search for “architectural heritage defintion” we will see at a glance that works of cultural interest less than a century old are not included. Any definitions of this heritage mentions the parameter of time which, through the effects of it’s slow decanting, ends up conferring greater value to an architectural work or ensemble of works above others in their surroundings. And, as the etymological origin of the term indicates, this involves a “duty to steward”.

However, one does not begin to take care of somebody or something without knowing it, right? This is where we come up against the first obstacle for stewarding architectural heritage: knowledge of it. This is the first pre-requisite for any subsequent action and it mainly obliges an effort in education and communication. Without this initial effort, it is impossible to generally raise awareness among society, which is set onto the most deplorable of paths when the only (dis)information comes from action taken with a vested interest under the auspices of political authorities among which –as we already know- there are several terribly cultured eminences in knowledge.

National organizations such as the Iberian DOCOMOMO and ICOMOS do commendable work. But they have few ties to the profession. And, what is worse, no ties to the public. Cataloguing entails confronting difficult methodological issues, such as what, owing to its original aesthetical qualities, its mere chronological characteristics (for DOCOMOMO only works from between 1925 and 1965), or its current state of conservation, should and should not be considered to be included in what by convention has come to be known as the Modern Movement. Unfortunately, these parameters do not suffice for there to be a “duty to steward”, all the less in our dear country where the presence of the Modern Movement as such was as fleeting and discreet as it was scarcely representative of Spain before the Civil War.

The issue of protecting modern works goes far beyond these debateable starting premises for cataloguing works. They entail the public’s memory, the immaterial heritage inhabiting each of our minds. As experts in the field, we architects should provide enough scientific knowledge to the community so that we are not only able to identify a given work’s quality or architectural value, but also indicate how to conserve it and provide guidelines in the event of any new plans for intervention. Unfortunately, the owners of these works are often unaware of their value and even more unaware of how to properly conserve them. It’s best we not even broach the subject of public funding for conserving them, lest we fall of our chairs laughing.

Lately, social initiatives can be found on the Internet to support the conservation of certain modern works whose conservation should never even be called into question.1 While this is a healthy symptom of interest in the subject, it may end up asphyxiating awareness raising.2 And if this weren’t enough, sometimes the threats are not posed by intervention on a catalogued work but rather on the surrounding landscape.3

 

The issue’s complexity requires ample yet urgent thought.


Text translated by Beth Gelb
Notas de página
1

Last year the demolition of the well-known CLESA factory in Madrid (Alejandro de la Sota, 1961) received a great deal of attention, as recently did the controversial intervention on the Real Club Náutico in San Sebastián (Aizpurúa and Labayen, 1929).

2

A few days ago, word came out regarding the imminent demolition of the Zamora Hospital Chapel in order to meet the capacity for a parking lot provided for in the Master Urban Planning Plan through new refurbishing. This work, however, is not recorded in the DOCOMOMO census, nor in its extensive catalogue of catalogue of 20th century Architecture. This is why we call for developing a scientific methodology to address the problem in the event of any such action. This will bolster vindications made by the public of Zamora.

3

See the article “La privatización de la democracia” (The privatisation of democracy) by Jaume Prat on the design for new towers to be built beside Le Corbusier ‘s Chandigarh Capitol Complex, just one example of the threats posed to architectural and landscape heritage.

Autor:
(Teruel, 1974) Arquitecto por la ETSA.Valladolid (1999) y doctor en Arquitectura (2013). Fundador del estudio [r-arquitectura], oficina de proyectos arquitectónicos y editor del blog de [r-arquitectura] . Investigador permanente sobre Arquitectura Moderna y Contemporánea, profesor de la ETSA.Valladolid, y autor del libro Mies van der Rohe: el espacio de la ausencia.

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