Think the architecture (III) | Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Article continuation of “Thinking the architecture (II)”.

Peter Eisenman
Peter Eisenman

The notes that have written on this subject have to see with my participation in Valencia, Spain, in the Seminar Thought and Architecture organised amongst other by the colleague José María Lozano of the School of Architecture of the Polytechnical University. It realised  between the 11 and on 15 November 2011. The document edited like announcement incorporated sentences of Peter Eisenman, between which stand out these two:

“…we can not be the vanguardistas that always have wanted to be, can not be it when there is not a new paradigm. It can not  be new when it is impossible to be new” and “need to be involucrados with the paradigms of our time”.

Sentences that summary the “bias” of Eisenman, and that me incomodaban like references. But it was not the only of the participants that thought like this.

There was field for a critical exchange. Two things resaltan of the appointments. One the idea of the avant-garde, the new and the another the one of the

“paradigms of our time”.

On the topic of being a forefront in the world of the art it suits to go towards what already I have mentioned, that the forefronts of beginning of the century twenty lost the initial freshness to turn into sectarian interpretations reflected in procedure, of the ideological contents of the modernity.

Something similar happens with the idea of “the new thing”. The concept is delimited, one proposes a meaning on which it would be necessary to remind. The sense of the word becomes rigid. Inflexibility that it would exclude even to Peter Eisenman’s architecture. Because there does not arise from a “new paradigm” the City of the Culture of Galicia, and the resultant architecture offers few surprises. The new thing is not so in the speech but in what the architecture shows.

Eduardo Souto de Moura
Eduardo Souto de Moura

Welcome prize.

The very recent Prize Pritzker to Eduardo Souto de Moura (1952) is an unexpected sample of the sense of what I say. His architecture is good, is of today, new. Is it it in the sense of Peter Eisenman’s phrases? Not. He lacks this anxiety for the innovation that seeks to surprise with you become insolent, being nevertheless a “way of doing” differently, expression of a way of personal reflection. The new of his buildings is in the hierarchies that it establishes, in the way of using material old men, in subtleties arisen from an intimacy. There is personal poetry, there is drama, affects (essential attribute of the architecture for Him Corbusier). But there is no anxiety for being different. It is a contribution to the modern tradition: managing of the volumes and the light, constructive rigor that expresses, I reject to the superposed ornament. There is in addition in Souto de Moura’s work fingerprint of his teacher, Álvaro Siza (1933), of whose buildings we might speak in similar form.

Towards there I orientated my exhibition of the seminar, towards small usefulness of versus resorted to the “explanation” as instrument of the critical labor the word said by the building, which this one shows with his physical reality. Saying in another form, tries to be spoken about the building emphasizing his concrete values and using the expressive, poetical capacity or not, that it assumes the critique, making visible the direction of his preferences. Something that seems to be simple and it it is not, because the critique dresses like that demands more literary, less rhetorical quality, and more sincerity. And not to despise the description, let’s remember that the great tradition novel-writing is description and sense of the poetical thing.

As for the commitment with the judgment of value, already I have written it here often, see it as an essential matter. The critique is useful if he compromises himself with the orientation of the debate, which demands to say what seems to us likely and to indicate what we reject.

Álvaro Siza
Álvaro Siza


And I expressed reservations on the critical tradition that one comes establishing in some academic means of Spain, with doctorates that seem to be designed as feeders of yes same.

This movement towards a critique that looks to yes same and the leak in favour of the architecture of the spectacle, the complacency with the excess, is a part of a change of attitude in the cultural Spanish environment that underlines the distances with the conditions of our exercise. Our excesses are different, perhaps more destructive, but in the strictly disciplinary area it could not stop attacking the condescension towards the architecture of the excess.

That it happens in Spain it surprises if we remember that in times of the postmodernism the Spanish debate was resisting to the predominant speech. And it helped to preserve the freshness of the Spanish architecture up to turning her into reference inescapable.

Which have been the impulses that they have led the recent generations of Spain to seeing in other directions when they had in house the substantive thing, the most permanent thing?

There are many. One of them, the most obvious, that the youngest reject the historical paper of poor, semibackward relative technology and economically, and they strain in looking like be equal, almost compulsive, to the rest of the old world. Other one, the fascination of the opulence, which magnetic pole is out of the peninsula, towards the North-East and northwest. And finally the reaction to this luck of drift towards America that Saramago tried to poeticize in his novel La Balsa de Piedra. I stress this because there erodes the links with a cultural space, ours, which from his limitations has made the universal look of Spain more complete. Diminished furthermore by an internal separatism ensimismado. The call became distant towards the width and inequality of the world, without which there is no possible balance.

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz, Architect.
Venezuela, april 2011,
Entre lo Cierto y lo Verdadero

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