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Tema - Critical Thinking
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1

“The favorite building of …” is a section of the blog cajondearquitecto. I find very interesting to read what other architects have answered to the difficult question posed by Rubén García Rubio, author of the blog.

2

I agree with those adjectives and maybe that’s why I like the building so much. It actually looks old, like a model of something halfway between a medieval tower and a strange, off-scale construction reminiscent of the recurrent New York water roof tanks.

3

Months ago, Casabella had published a series of images culled from the French magazine with buildings, some pseudo-Miesian and others imitating Neutra. Rogers’ editorial spoke of the depressing conformity that the French magazine fed its readers. André Bloc and Alexandre Persitz, the editors of L ́architecture d ́aujourd ́hui, had also manifested themselves in an article entitled “Young architects of the world” against the “romantic” movement that Casabella seemed to have sponsored from its pages, with the publication of the buildings that sparked the Neoliberty controversy with Reyner Banham in 1959.

4

Although being in agreement with part of the criticism of this interesting article “La arquitectura ha muerto”

I think we have gone too far.

Si vis pacem para bellum

 

Author’s photo.

 

On one occasion, I was asked to choose my favorite building and write about it.1 I don’t think anyone can answer to that question fairly and accurately. At that time, I couldn’t do anything except thinking about which building I wanted to talk about. I decided that I wanted to write about BBPR’s Torre Velasca in Milan, but nothing else. I will not describe the building since I have not even visited it. I’ve seen it from the roof of the Duomo; they are not very far from each other; and I have come to know it (on paper, as is enough for Miranda as opposed to Zevi) in depth from its controversial presentation at the CIAM XI in Oterloo in 1959 and the discussion with the youthful-by then- and uncomfortable faction of Team X, who labeled the building that Ernesto Nathan Rogers had presented as historicist and anti-modern. 2

 

Earlier, the French magazine, L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui had published an article in 1958 titled “Casabella … Casus Belli?”, where it was argued that the tower betrayed the values of the modern movement and reflected the Italian appreciation for the “ ugliness, baroque inflammation, exaggeration, false originality and even the bizarre ”. The Italian magazine Casabella, which was edited by Ernesto N. Rogers, one of the members of BBPR, would respond with a text that said “Si vis pacem … demain para bellum … aujourd’hui”, the famous Latin phrase that can be translated for something like “if you want peace, prepare for war”, in a clear threat that reflected the discomfort of the Italian magazine with what was published by the French. 3

 

I do not want with this to praise the nostalgic and plaintive past in relation to the present of architecture and magazines, but I do believe that both the excess of information and the progressive disappearance of paper magazines, together with the exacerbated criticism on the star-system of architecture,4 may have contributed to a certain detachment from what we could call the scene, so that now almost everything seems irrelevant to us, much more in Covid times, where talking about anything other than a vaccine seems frivolous.

 

I miss that excitement of looking at the indexes of the magazines, seeing the names of architects that interested me because of their works or their texts. There was a certain emotion in it, in that delayed reading after patient waiting. Today, the immediacy of the web and our anxiety has made that enjoyment disappear and although the information is there, accessible and almost free, hardly anything has not become irrelevant. Maybe I’ve become an architectural hooligan and need my dosage of stars.

 

Francisco Javier Casas Cobo is a Spanish architect who lives in Riyadh.

 

Text translated by the author.

 

Notas de página
1

“The favorite building of …” is a section of the blog cajondearquitecto. I find very interesting to read what other architects have answered to the difficult question posed by Rubén García Rubio, author of the blog.

2

I agree with those adjectives and maybe that’s why I like the building so much. It actually looks old, like a model of something halfway between a medieval tower and a strange, off-scale construction reminiscent of the recurrent New York water roof tanks.

3

Months ago, Casabella had published a series of images culled from the French magazine with buildings, some pseudo-Miesian and others imitating Neutra. Rogers’ editorial spoke of the depressing conformity that the French magazine fed its readers. André Bloc and Alexandre Persitz, the editors of L ́architecture d ́aujourd ́hui, had also manifested themselves in an article entitled “Young architects of the world” against the “romantic” movement that Casabella seemed to have sponsored from its pages, with the publication of the buildings that sparked the Neoliberty controversy with Reyner Banham in 1959.

4

Although being in agreement with part of the criticism of this interesting article “La arquitectura ha muerto”

I think we have gone too far.

Autor:
Beatriz Villanueva es Doctora en Proyectos Arquitectónicos Avanzados, MArch y MPAA (ETSAM). Francisco J. Casas es Doctor en Comunicación Arquitectónica, MArch y Master en Análisis, Teoría e Historia de la Arquitectura (ETSAM). Fueron comisarios de “Menáge a Trois”, “F. A. Q.”, “Portfolio Speed Dating”, “Al Borde de la Crítica” y de la exposición "Couples & Co.: 22 Mirror Stories of Spanish Architecture" en Berlín, Hamburgo, Sevilla y Granada.  Han sido profesores en IED, UEM, UCJC, ETSA Zaragoza, Summer School AA (Londres) y ahora en Riad desde 2014.

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