1

Not satisfied with that, some people even take a piece of the work away with them as a souvenir. Anyone who has a piece of the terrace floor from Villa Savoye at home, please return it.

2

A certain amount of architectural posing is never amiss.

3

One day I’ll have to tell you about my obsession with emergency escape route plans in hotels. The one in this hotel could only be described as a killer.

 

4

The only other reading material the hotel offered was a Bible.

An Architect’s Holiday

The author, somewhere. (Photograph by the author’s sister)

I’ve just come back from a holiday which, once again, I didn’t spend travelling around looking at architecture. Not because I didn’t have the opportunity, nor because I’m sufficiently dumb to be able to do without such sophisticated pursuits (to paraphrase the argument in the old Quetglas text). It’s just that I can hardly ever be bothered to travel to see architecture.

I have enormous admiration for colleagues who, knowing how to read the plans of a building, travel kilometres to be able to experience it first-hand – even though they only get to see (or touch, if that’s what turns them on1) the outside and a tiny part of the interior. Me, I get exhausted just thinking about the effort it would have required even to arrive at the secluded location of such-and-such a masterpiece – the existence of which I was probably blissfully unaware beforehand. Fortunately, those incorrigible travellers usually remember to document their achievements by posting depersonalized photographs on one of the social networks2, allowing me to recreate the visit from the comfort of my armchair.

This summer, however, I wasn’t able to relish such pleasure. I was careless enough to walk straight into the lion’s den, and ended up spending my holiday at a hotel designed by a Pritzker prize winner. And I automatically, involuntarily, turned into the very thing I detest the most: a tourist-architect. My concerns during those days of well-deserved rest were not the usual ones, like the pH level in the swimming pool or what time the buffet lunch opened. Instead, I found myself seeking information about joinery, the conservation of the building’s original furniture and the structure of an overhang. And all this was accompanied by an obsessive search for the spots where I would have the best view of the design’s spatial composition – so that I could take photographs!

The hotel management was also well aware that what they were offering was not just any old accommodation but a room in a “signature building”, and spared no effort to remind its guests of that fact wherever they looked. There were information panels about the architect, sculptures of the architect, letters between the architect and his customer, photographs of the architect, tablecloths with drawings of the architect… Even inside the rooms there was a detailed plan of the building hanging on the door3 and a commemorative book about it on the bedside table4. A whole year waiting to be able to disconnect from architecture, and I’d ended up in a place where it was impossible to get away from it.

My only alternative was to run away and go somewhere pure and untouched by an architect’s hand, but I soon realised that was impossible. Wherever I went, there’d always be an architect: me. Because the problem was not being surrounded by architecture but being unable to stop seeing the world through an architect’s eyes. Once I understood that, I must admit the holiday didn’t turn out so badly, because the very act of contemplating any form of reality from an architectural perspective is always of interest in one way or another. That said, the truly enjoyable places are those which make you forget about architecture altogether. If only that were possible.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor

Notas de página
1

Not satisfied with that, some people even take a piece of the work away with them as a souvenir. Anyone who has a piece of the terrace floor from Villa Savoye at home, please return it.

2

A certain amount of architectural posing is never amiss.

3

One day I’ll have to tell you about my obsession with emergency escape route plans in hotels. The one in this hotel could only be described as a killer.

 

4

The only other reading material the hotel offered was a Bible.

Autor:
(Gijón, 1981) Arquitecto (2005), máster en restauración arquitectónica y doctor en urbanística y ordenación del territorio por la Universidad de Valladolid. Compagina la práctica profesional vinculada a la planificación urbanística con la docencia en el área de proyectos arquitectónicos. Sus intereses giran en torno a la representación e interpretación cultural del territorio, los medios de comunicación y la disolución de los límites disciplinares.

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