From giving form from the pain and the misery | Pedro Hernández

Silla Paimio Chair, by Alvar Aalto

“Paimio is a praise of the civilization filtered through an ideal humanist; but, in spite of this characterization, it cannot conceal that the final destination of all this effort can come down to receiving and trying to encourage a disease. Formulated in other terms, it is in the same decrease from the ideal theoretical one of the first rationalism towards the reality of the individual subject where the doors are opened to recognize the misery and the pain as his only constituent elements”

The previous appointment turns out to be extracted (started by force, if it is preferred) of Martí Perán’s text about Domènec’s project ‘24 horas de luz artificial’‘ realized in 1998 and in the one that ‘recreates to royal scale a room of Paimio’s Anti-tuberculosis hospital in Finland’. The text questions the modern architecture and his excessive rationalization. This ‘machine of living’ that was questioned by the Finnish architect in the most human search of an architecture. Aspect this one that it can appreciate in Aalto’s appointments as:

It is not possible to standardize the environment of simplistic form as a mechanical product’


We must work looking for simple, useful things, without adornments, but that are organically adapted to the current man and in harmony with the human being. One has forgotten the man and, nevertheless, the real architecture only this there where the man constitutes the center. Both his comedy and his tragedy

and that appear in this direction. Nevertheless the last word of the second appointment points at an aspect rarely contained in the architecture in his design: the notion of tragedy that already had been attended by Perán in this misery and the pain ‘as his only constituent elements in pursuit of an architecture for just of saving the man, condemned to live in a senseless anthill’.

Aalto and Perán attend to aspects that go beyond the topic of the design to enter shaded and alternate aspects of the (modern) architecture; how would pain demonstrate the space and the architectural matter? Or how to cure the pain or to produce it? If we attend to the idea that the pain is a manifestation of the royal thing, of which if it hurts us we cannot be before a sham (Ah, what a lot of times we have heard it of pinch me to know that I am not dreaming!) … would not they be these spaces constituted in the same essence by ‘the misery and the pain’ the only ones capable of giving a confirmation of the experience?

I make the question today opened … but I remain between a last conformity that I express the appointment to myself. The chair Paimio of the same Aalto, which form answers to the search of the ideal form to facilitate the breathing forcing the position of the sick body and that I am going to name Guantanamo Chair, used to force “to eat” the prisoners of the sadly famous center of detention.

Guantanamo Chair |

I take advantage and attach some of the impressions happened in another text that I wrote for Arquine:

The hygienic theories of the modernity were had in account in all the aspects of the design. The arquitecta Beatriz Colomina has referred occasionally to the relation between the health and the architecture aiming that “The modern architecture was understood of unanimous form as a luck of medical equipment, a mechanism to protect and to improve the body, capablly of relieving the human males. (…) since Beatriz Colomina has aimed at the architecture supported in the modernity, it would turn into a tool for the relief so much physically as mental of the bodies (…) we are pointing that the architecture has the power to modify whom in her they live, for what it would not be inadmissible to say that a design can reverberate in a sense objected on the same person: to attack his spirit and to spoil it. For cruel that could seem we can put examples: jails, spaces of torture, prisoners’ fields and even the same hospitals and sanatoria – in his bad variants – have been designed at some time by someone – maybe time an architect – and they would give good account of these capacities in the shade of the architecture, where the misery and the pain are not already his “only constituent elements” but where these are his last ends. (…) The architecture or the space are neutral in yes, lack ethics; the architecture abstracted to his mechanical variant, can be used as priest’s element or weapon of repression. In this point there will correspond to the architects what they are arranged to doing, to forming his own professional limits (even ethical). Beyond the classic question that we we all can have heard at some time: “You as architect, would you design a jail?” Or similar, the point is in knowing in the possible implications that a design could have.

Pedro Hernández · architect

ciudad de méxico. february 2014

Soy arquitecto por la Universidad de Alicante, pero mi interés sobre esta disciplina se encuentra alejado de su papel tradicional de diseño de espacios. Más bien, me interesa entender cómo las representaciones de la arquitectura, el paisaje, el diseño o el territorio construyen y materializan determinados discursos ideológicos, imponiendo posturas, subjetividades y formas de acción sobre los cuerpos que la habitan.

En mi trabajo edito estos discursos –sus imágenes, sus historias o sus restos materiales– y reelaboro comentarios críticos que ponen en evidencia sus controversias y contradicciones, formalizándolos en diversos formatos como textos, fotografías, vídeos, objetos o instalaciones, muchas veces entrecruzados entre sí.

He publicado artículos y ensayos en diversos medios de Estados Unidos, Italia, Croacia, España, Chile y México. Desde enero de 2013-2018 residí en la Ciudad de México donde trabajaba como coordinador de contenidos en Arquine. Actualmente resido en Madrid.

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