The Architect Actor | Íñigo García Odiaga

How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster?.

The Zinemaldi donostiarra projected during this his 58ª edition of the festival the documentary film How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster?. A documentary film on the path of the architect Norman Foster, that visited the festival as if of a star hollywoodiense treated .

That the architecture has sucumbido in front of the power of the mediático, is not any secret. So much the buildings, as his architects have turned into icons of a modernity in which the power of the image is able to convert the mud in gold and vice versa. Imbuido In this condition of star of the world-wide architecture, Norman Foster author of works like the metre of Bilbao, the controversial reform of the Reichstag German or the airport of Peking considered the biggest of the world, competed in the carpet of the film festival of Donostia with the same Julia Roberts, being his visit one of the most expected by the public.

The film, that previously had presented  in the section Panorama of the Berlinale, is a route by the work, life and trips of an obsessed man with his work, the aeroplanes and the ski, and tells the vital path of a man that from his humble origins until turning into  a mega-star of the architecture has had to surpass amongst other obstacles a cancer that stole him a valuable time.

A young person Norman Foster together with Buckminster Fuller

Under a documentary format the directors Norberto Lopez Amado and Carlos Carcas diseccionan to one of few architects that he has constructed in all the continents and whose reputation and prestige reach the range of planetary.

The tape that takes a question as a title that the legendary Buckminster Fuller was thrown to the young woman at the time by architect who in those days was collaborating in his study. “Does how much weigh his building?, gentleman Foster”; surprised it did not know what to say. The following day, it had the response. It was weighing too much. And most of the kilos was in the foundations. In this moment, Foster saw it clear, the architect born in the city of Manchester in 1935, it would initiate his career proposing an architecture that would take advantage of the technology to the maximum to lighten his buildings.

Hereby and after the catharsis that supposed his meeting with Fuller, Foster led the architecture called of the high-tech, an architecture in which less I weigh, it means less energy and therefore minor cost and major environmental balance. But it is a question also of an architecture that in occasions it claims his condition of technological over the rationality, that is to say turns into an architecture on operated, maybe as his own designer who from his architect’s condition happens to that of an actor who interprets an architect, with what this supposes.

Sketches of Frank Gehry

This one is not the first transformation of an architect in actor. The filmmaker Sydney Pollack already realized a documentary on the famous architect Frank O. Gehry, in which the architect of the museum Guggenheim of Bilbao, was filling with his personality and energy the whole screen.

From the deep friendship that joins the architect and the famous director of cinema, there are established a series of meetings and conversations that are outlining the ways and Gehry’s creative process. The filming of the movie that it had begun in the year 2000 got longer for five years.

Sydney Pollack records Frank Gehry in the terrace of the Museum Guggenheim of Bilbao

Frank Gehry in The SIMPSONS

Frank Gehry in The SIMPSONS

To Frank Gehry it likes to do notes; this way they begin his works of architecture and this tendency to the notes he guided Sydney Pollack towards the style of the documentary.

Taking as a point of item the original notes that Gehry realized for each of his big projects, the documentary explores the process that the architect follows to transform this first abstract note into tangible matter, into a three-dimensional model constructed normally with carton and I watch to a very big scale, which allows in a process of successive approximations to be shaping the form v discovering his geometry, before turning it into a building of titanium and glass, of concrete and steel, of wood and stone.

Nathaniel Khan and Louis I. Kahn

But undoubtedly the great documentary on an architect is the realized one on Louis Khan’s figure one of the big teachers of the architecture of the 20th century. A man full of contradictions who happened of creating important buildings to dying alone, poor and left in the bath of the station Penn in New York, and whose mortal remains could not be identified for days. Kahn achieved an extraordinary career in the architecture, nevertheless it was taking an untid and controversial personal life.

My Arquitecto: A son´s journey

Maybe this misunderstanding between the personal thing and the professional thing is what I lead to his illegitimate child Nathaniel Khan to portraying the life of his father across his works, you interview with architects collaborators or experts in his works as well as with relatives, in a documentary that was nominated to the Oscar in the year 2003 under the title, My Architect: A son´s journey.

The tape is more than a simple documentary on his work, is the search of answers of a son on his father, whom it saw more as a myth that as to a man. For five years it investigated to understand the figure of his absent father and to conclude that in case of Kahn, an actor it was turning occasionally into a brilliant architect.

íñigo garcía odiaga . architect

san sebastián. september 2010

It´s published in MUGALARI 24.09.10

Íñigo García Odiaga

Doctor Arquitecto y profesor asociado de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, ETSASS. Editor de NOMU. 1/5 del estudio de arquitectura VAUMM. Vivo en Donosti.

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