1

Logan’s Run. (1976). [Film] Directed by Michael Anderson.

 

2

Strangely enough, the images of the city in which all the inhabitants were younger than 30 were shot in a shopping mall, the Dallas Market Center (DMC) Apparel Mart. The final sequence, which is well worth re-watching, was shot at Philip Johnson’s Water Gardens in Fort Worth.

Streaks, Stains and Wrinkles

Lichens on a concrete wall, Burgos. 2019. Author’s image.

The film Logan’s Run1 was about a dystopian society in which the population lived in clusters of geodesic domes near Washington D.C2.

The dystopia resided in the fact that all the members of that society were under the age of 30. When people reached that age, they were (apparently) “renewed” (cloned). Perhaps the best scene is the one where the leading characters meet Peter Ustinov, the only person older than 30 on the whole planet. The dome is a pure, clean, perfect city inhabited by young men and women; in contrast, Ustinov is an elderly, ailing man who lives in the Capitol, a run-down building covered with ivy.

Like Ustinov, architecture ages. It gets dirty. It gets covered with dust. It gets wet. It rusts.

And – alas – streaking begins to appear.

I’m not going to talk about liabilities for damages: I beg a certain summertime dispensation in that area. What I want to talk about are the wrinkles inherent to old age (many of which are anticipated), not the scars of inevitable wear-and-tear.

As I was saying, architecture has streaks and stains.  And sometimes that’s not a bad thing.  There’s a dignified way to grow old, to manifest usage and the passage of time.

I’ve always been amazed by those old wooden staircases where the middle parts of the steps are worn away. Steps that have been varnished and revarnished hundreds of times. That same wear can be seen on the marble steps at the Madrid Polytechnic School of Architecture (ETSAM), and I’d be lying if I said I don’t try to tread on the most worn parts each time I go up them.

Corten steel streaks… a lot. But, again, there’s no reason why that should necessarily be considered bad.  It’s just different.  I know that may seem strange in a world that’s increasingly more uniform and regulated, a boringly standardised world that deliberately closes its eyes to the very existence of the concept of ageing.

Rust on a steel floor joint, Burgos. 2019. Author’s image.

I know that what we produce ( or at least what we traditionally produce) should be stable. It should remain standing. However, used objects acquire a certain veneer. Finger-marks on my grandfather’s pipes. The worn-down nib on the fountain pen my father gave me when I went to university.

Architecture too sometimes has that veneer. There are types of wood that turn grey and then green. Stone and concrete that get covered with moss and lichens. Steels and coppers that rust. Houses in the south, where walls are constantly splattered with mud when it rains, are patiently whitewashed each year to restore their white colour.  Their skin is always the same, but different. It’s a taut membrane holding a wall that’s more earth than anything else after so many years.

Perhaps this ageing requires not only time but also patience and a greater willingness to accept Julio Cano Lasso’s affirmation that there are no bad materials, only badly used materials.  And to appreciate the value of those wrinkles and streaks – especially when they’re the result of a long, fulfilling life of service and constitute an outward expression of constant use. Is there a better way of growing old?


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

Logan’s Run. (1976). [Film] Directed by Michael Anderson.

 

2

Strangely enough, the images of the city in which all the inhabitants were younger than 30 were shot in a shopping mall, the Dallas Market Center (DMC) Apparel Mart. The final sequence, which is well worth re-watching, was shot at Philip Johnson’s Water Gardens in Fort Worth.

Autor:
(Almería, 1973) Arquitecto por la ETSAM (2000) y como tal ha trabajado en su propio estudio en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en obras publicas y en la administración. Desde 2008 es coeditor junto a María Granados y Juan Pablo Yakubiuk del blog n+1.

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