Apolo and Dionisos in the Argentine architecture | Martín Marcos

Mario Roberto Alvarez | Fuente: grandespymes.com.ar
Mario Roberto Álvarez | Source: grandespymes.com.ar

The idea of resorting to the figures of Apollo and Dionisos is a debtor of the teacher of the ETSAB-UPC, Javier Ferrándiz Gabriel and his book Apollo and Dionisos. The temperament in the modern architecture.1 In him raises a test of analysis of the modern architecture based on the duality reason – feeling for power like that separates and explains the rational aspects of the purely emotive ones in a work or project process.

The reference with Nietzsche and his early speculations about these gods of the Greek mythology in The origin of the Tragedy, ended up by giving a strong symbolic character to the duet. In times in which the architecture already does not support so unremovable truths but rather subjective interpretations of every author, these figures seem to receive major relevancy and force.

To confront the Apollonian thing and the Dionysian thing in the analysis and study of the contemporary architecture turns out to be very stimulant and almost always it checks that a good work of architecture must have something of both components and that from the skill in his combination and synergy the best examples arise, those of major intellectual thickness, the most complex and powerful. It is necessary much to learn of one and another approach, and more than them to border it is necessary to understand them to complement them and enrich them. To encourage to go out for us of our own zone of comfort and to do the effort to learn of other one, from the different one, of the different one to we.

In this point Álvarez and Testa‘s works and Head continue performing an enormous didactic importance, since they can be visited, lived and felt even in his minimal details. Unlike other big works of the international architecture that we study, those of the Argentine authors who are in our cities have this bonus of pedagogic value that ensues from the immediate comparison, of the possibility of checking these diversities. Between them, public buildings like the National Library or the Municipal General San Martin Theatre are superlative lessons that never become exhausted and that allow us to approach different logics proyectuales, materialities, textures, scales, espacialidades, relate with the city and ways of being crossed.

Teatro San Martín, su gran obra (1954) | Fuente: wikipedia.org
St. Martin Theatre, his great work (1954) | Source: wikipedia.org

Álvarez and Testa continue alive in them and continue teaching us from the best architecture. To do more with less seems to be his moral imperative, and in this coincidence they return to be recognized like decided and ideologically modern. Every student of architecture who faces them has the opportunity to begin an intimate dialog with both teachers. Surely they will be there ready to his secrets count to us, but only if we can ask, if we have learned to look meaningfully and to be able to formulate the correct questions.

This sample also tries to contribute in this search, to demythologize certain encasillamientos facilistas and to propose us more complex and subtle readings.

Clorindo Testa muestra a la presidenta Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, una maqueta en la Biblioteca Nacional. También la acompañan Florencio Randazzo y Horacio González | Fuente: wikipedia.org
Clorindo Tests a model shows to the chairwoman Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in the National Library. Also Florencio Randazzo and Horace Gonzalez accompany her | Source: wikipedia.org

Clorindo Tests it was in the habit of saying that his method was a product of a directed imagination and that no type of overflow was allowing itself not of irrationalityever. Mario Roberto Álvarez was supporting proudly that he only had a few ideas3 but that they were obsessing it in the search of the perfection. It is necessary to ask:

Clorindo Testa solía decir que su método era producto de una imaginación dirigida y que nunca se permitía ningún tipo de desborde ni de irracionalidad2. Mario Roberto Álvarez mantenía con orgullo que él sólo tenía unas pocas ideas3 pero que lo obsesionaban en la búsqueda de la perfección. Cabe preguntarse:

“Where to find Apollo and where to Dionisos? It is viable to associate them in an almost automatic way or exactly there will be necessary to discover the most brilliant drives in his apparent contradictions, in these dual tensions that displace us of the obvious thing?”

Since we will see, treating itself about Álvarez and Head, almost it is never the obvious thing.

Martín Marcos. Architect, town planner, Director MARQ-SCA (Museum of Architecture and Design of Buenos Aires) and Teacher To title FADU UBA
Buenos Aires. October 2017


1 Ferrándiz Gabriel, Javier. “Apolo y Dionisos. El Temperamento en la arquitectura moderna”. Alfaomega- Ediciones UPC, 2001. Barcelona.

4 De Brea, Ana; Dagnino, Tomás. “Señores arquitectos… Diálogos con Mario Roberto Álvarez y Clorindo Testa”. Ediciones UBROC, 1999. Buenos Aires.

2 Pazos, Luis; “Clorindo Testa: El arte para habitar”. Revista Somos, 1977. Buenos Aires.

3 Jurado, Miguel;  “Murió Mario Roberto Álvarez”. ARQ Clarín, 2011. Buenos Aires.

Martín Marcos

Docente de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanis­mo (UBA) y director del Museo de Arquitectura y Diseño de la Socie­dad Central de Arquitectos en Buenos Aires hasta 2018. Actualmente lleva la dirección del Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo – MNAD, en el Palacio Errázuriz-Alvear. 

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