Podia, Plinths and Flying House
Podia, Plinths and Flying House _ Silvio Carta
One of the main compositional principles since the time of Classical architecture, and even before, has been the tripartition of every building into plinth, body and roof. Each part, throughout history, has had a specific relationship with the city and its inhabitants: The plinth fosters direct connections with the streets and passersby, while the body constructs the urban tissue of the city in its tridimensional extent, and the roof determines its end in height, concluding the building. The overall combination plays various roles as the scale changes, turning a single object (the building) into a complex element. But what happens if one of these crucial compositional elements goes missing? Can the building still embody complexity and perform its various activities? Moreover, is it still a complex unité or is it now incomplete? What happens to its internal organization? In other words, what if a building is not solidly rooted in its terrain but is conceived as being perched? What if the building takes flight over uneven terrain?
Revamping the Derelicts of the Past: In Praise of the Hybrid _ Nelson Mota
The grand architectural gesture built over a tabula rasa is now seldom spotted in the ordinary work of an European architectural office. And this is not due to economic constraints, but because of a broadening notion of architectural heritage, which now includes not only singular monuments and highbrow architectural pieces but also more prosaic structures, buildings or ensembles. However, time seems to be still the determining factor that validates whether something deserves preservation or not. Concerning the criteria for preservation, the following moral assessment is thus gaining momentum: If it’s old is good, if it’s new we can discard.
Hence, nowadays, an important part of the commissions received by European architects deals with designing projects for sites where the derelicts of the past have to be revamped. Ruins are a special and very cherished type of those derelicts. And people tend to like ruins, as they often resonate with something that creates a link with the past. This popular fascination with ruins pervades also the intellectuals and the architects among them. Ruins are a token of something that stands somewhere in a limbo, between art and nature. They are hybrid structures that were created not only by the hands of men but also organically generated.
Revamping those derelicts of the past thus creates an additional challenge for architects, as they have to add another layer to an artefact that has already a charged aura. Contemporary architectural approaches show many different ways in which the design approach copes with this challenge. For example, the ruins can assume a performative role, a commemorative symbol or a deterministic function. Some of the most successful cases, however, reveal a shrewd critical assessment of the symbolic and formal qualities of those structures, that goes beyond a mere commodification of their antiquity. In these cases, the new layer thus becomes a celebration of the aesthetic hybrid of ruins.
héctor fernández elorza
Incase We Meet _ Héctor Fernández Elorza
Intense Material Density _ Jesús Donaire + Héctor Fernández Elorza
The following text is a declaration of intent. Something that is suggested and vaguely hinted at. Something that one knows is there, half-hidden in the darkness but not within easy reach.
As an architect there are statements that remain with you like a good friend wherever you go. In my case I believe these to be two.
The first of these came from Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oíza during my final year at the Madrid School of Architecture, ETSAM. On finishing the correction of our projects, he made the comment that good architecture was like a loaf of bread. In the sense that the taster isn’t thinking of the baker, but simply says: “what delicious bread!”. In architecture, the architect (the baker) can get in the way of the protagonism of his work, from his buildings (his loaf of bread). Sáenz de Oiza proposes an unsigned, unlabeled, architecture, like a loaf of bread. Perhaps if architecture were anonymous we would enjoy it in a different way. Behind a work of architecture there should be nothing but silence.
The second statement I took from a text by the architect Alejandro de la Sota. “Good architecture makes us laugh”. Sota suggests that we should be optimists. He argues that beyond the building envelope that shapes the architecture we should focus on fomenting optimism, on promoting “the good life”, as it were. In a nutshell, the cliché “architecture should make people happy”, is frequently lost, and probably largely on account of vanity.
These are two guiding aspects of the work involved in these two drawings: on the one hand, an architecture that is silent and without histrionics and on the other hand, optimistic and cheerful with the capacity from the outset (often from the very first drawing) to provoke a smile.