The architect hinders | José Ramón Hernández Correa

I have a new entry in the blog outlined, and already it was going with her when this morning Fernando Sánchez Dragó has slipped past (sigh, this man!) and it has instructed me to write urgently different this one.

He has spoken in National Radio, and has annotated a book that, for what he has said, seems to be very interesting:  La Historia de San Michele, by Axel Munthe. (I confess that it did not know it, but already I have managed it).

One was tasting Sanchez Dragó (as of custom) speaking about this Swedish doctor who ended up at Capri at the twenties, in the romantic and distant epoch of period between the wars. It has described the paradisiac island, and has recounted how, in the epoch of Munthe, the remains of Tiberio´s villa were spread all over, before the disinterest of all.

Munthe gathered loving columns, statues, moldings, etc, that were literally ” thrown thereabouts ” and there was constructed an idyllic house, to which San Michele called.

San Michele |
San Michele |

Sanchez Dragó, absolutely transido of emotion and of vehemence, and in the limit of what for him is this celestial house, this jewel, has added (though already there was felt) that in this house (naturally) no architect had controlled.

I was driving, but since I it saw to come I neither have given any wince nor have done any dangerous maneuver. Sometimes I have a mental and spiritual solidity that already there wanted a Gentleman Jedi.

It has added (and yes I have not could stand it) that the house did Munthe with his own hands, helped by the villagers, that, though illiterate, they had inherited from parents to children, from the Romans, the trade of planning arches.

I have not could stand it of ” though illiterate ” because there has gone out for Sanchez Dragó involuntarily the gentleman who goes inside.

Why ” though illiterate “? Is it that it is an impediment to be able to do an arch or a wall?
It is as if he had said “although smokers”, “although curly hair”, “although short”, etc.

I learned a lot from what I know about the construction of a bricklayer from Seseña (Toledo) who is not exactly illiterate, although he does not distinguish himself precisely by spending the nights in white reading Schopenhauer. A short time ago he told me that in the first work we did together (the second I did in my life) I confessed that I was going there to learn, and that moved him. I do not remember telling him that, but I’m not surprised, because that’s what I’ve always thought.

Over the years I projected him and directed two houses for two of his daughters, and he made mine for me. In other words, we have placed great trust in each other. I would never think of calling him illiterate, or saying that “although he is illiterate” he knows how to build houses. He was not a mere bricklayer (he is already retired), in the sense of a mere worker. In his way he was an architect, as were the masons of the time, whom the townspeople called when they wanted to build a house. I had designed many houses when no project was required, and years later, working with me, always provided valuable suggestions, in which it was seen that guessed future consequences and anticipated future problems. But suddenly, in the midst of the display of his practical wisdom, he naturally asked me a question about matters that were beyond him, and in which he acknowledged that I knew more than he did, and when I was able to resolve the doubt or explain it to him. satisfactorily what he had asked me I felt proud and happy.

But I pick up the thread, which I lose.

Obviously, a dream house, an experiment house or a poetic manifesto house, a loving house or a mausoleum house is made by who feels it, who lives it, who dreams it, its protagonist, its recipient, its lover, its dead, and in she an architect can even hinder. (The architect, to intervene, should be a kind of medium that connects these feelings and helps quantify them and “technify” them and “adjust them to the norm.” And nothing more).

When I was a child my uncle Carlos became a magnificent and completely illogical house. It had the living room in the whole center, without a single window, and from it all the doors were opened to all the rooms of the house. That room was very special. It was like a theater stage, where all the action happens, and the truth is that things always happened there.

I also remember a linear house in which all the rooms were passing through. To get to the parents’ bedroom had to go through the children’s, but the worst was that at the end of the tour there was a tiny room where the TV was and where the afternoons spent the family (and the visits), and to which it came after going through the children’s room and the parents’ room (both lacked windows). Also, because the terrain was very irregular, you had to climb steps or plateaus from one room to another, and even inside one of them.

Thus we have many charming and even fascinating houses. Obviously, in the dreamlike universe of these “Bachelardian1 houses the architect hinders. Of course.
We speak of houses (or cathedrals) crazy, felt, dreamed, but personal and non-transferable.

La catedral de Justo Gallego, una catedral en construcción por una sola persona | Fuente:
The Cathedral of Justo Gallego, a cathedral under construction by a single person | Source:

There are people who miss with nostalgia a time when there were no regulations, in which each one sought his life and did what he could or did, improvising and unplanned, and nobody told him how much he had to measure at least the window of a bedroom, or how much the space on which it peeked, or how much air had to pass through it. An epic time in which if you left the uneven floor you ended up getting used to it, if you got a crack you resigned yourself, and if you fell a piece of roof over you resigned more.

This is how you can make houses that are very original, absurd, antifunctional and full of meaning. But that does not justify dismissing the professionals so emphatically.

In this time, which regulates even what the degree of slipperiness of a floor has to be, how much the rung of a rung has to measure or how many sinks have to have a flat roof, professionals are needed. And increasingly professionalized. (And every time they have to answer for more pijoterías). But for that very reason, you long for the time when you did not need anything, when to go to the mountain you only needed decision and audacity. (Now to be bandit you have to get the activity license and the tax heading, and that bothers).

You can (and should) sing with astonishment and admiration the praises of a good house (and San Michele certainly seems) that has not been designed by any architect, but just as one admires and applauds a brilliant emergency tracheotomy done in an airplane with plastic cutlery and a BIC pen by a plumber who went on vacation.

They are facts worthy of praise. But another thing is to rub your hands and say with relish:

“Chincha, rabiña, that this house has not been made by any architect!”,

and to think that we, the architects, would dedicate ourselves to castrate pigs and stop being dizzy once and for all with our giliflauteces.

José Ramón Hernández Correa
PhD Arqchitect and author de Arquitectamos locos?
Toledo · july 2013


José Ramón Hernández Correa

Nací en 1960. Arquitecto por la ETSAM, 1985. Doctor Arquitecto por la Universidad Politécnica, 1992. Soy, en el buen sentido de la palabra, bueno. Ahora estoy algo cansado, pero sigo atento y curioso.

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