The architecture of the words | Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

The Century is Over. Evolutionary Tree of Twentieth-Century Architecture, Charles Jencks, Architectural Review, julio 2000, pág. 77.
The Century is Over. Evolutionary Tree of Twentieth-Century Architecture, Charles Jencks, Architectural Review, july 2000, page. 77.

Our life passes under the sky of the words: we live in the language. Often we think stubbornly about the word as a mere utensil across which we treat of explicitar our messages and our arguments, poor fllood of words about – we put – the architecture. Nevertheless, in occasions it was looking like that these sets been ordained as letters were forming previously and for yes same, if not an architecture, yes at least a place, a luminous preamble of the existence of objects, landscapes or rooms. For Jose Ángel Valente, first of all, the word will be a light:


here still his innumerable face does not form 

the visible thing”.1

The relations between architecture and language have been suitably studied in numerous texts, articles and enclosedly maps from the academy2. Some architects have cultivated his own words and waited patiently his fruits: Buckminster Fuller in his Dictionary of Synergies proposes a collection of invented terms that should stimulate his own architecture: tensegrity, livingry, dymaxion…

Sometimes we need to invent a dictionary, to patent the singularity of a few ideas from the restoration of certain passwords or neologisms. Words key. In other occasions it will be the own architecture the one that he supports – not without surprise – simple and unexpected words, messages that manage to reveal the world from the high thing: let’s remember that – for some motive – Álvaro Siza accepts the acquaintance Bonjour Tristesse in Berlin at the end of the eighties.

Words heritage.

On the freedom of the words, his autonomy with regard to us, it does not seem to be simple neither an alone response nor conclusion venture3. Probably the concretion of the example attends us: the word “place” was designating in his origin – it does thousands of years – the clear one in the forest. Maybe the energy contained in this alone word is capable of enunciating the first sense of the architecture, a state of affairs before the interventions of the men, who knows if previous enclosed to our existence:

Sobre la libertad de las palabras, su autonomía respecto a nosotros, no parece sencillo aventurar ni una sola respuesta ni conclusión3. Quizá la concreción del ejemplo nos asista: la palabra “lugar” designaba en su origen -hace miles de años- un claro en el bosque. Tal vez la energía contenida en esta sola palabra sea capaz de enunciar el sentido primero de la arquitectura, un estado de las cosas previo a las intervenciones de los hombres, quién sabe si anterior incluso a nuestra existencia:

“So beyond our dream

the words, which us do not belong,

associate as clouds

which one day the wind precipitates

on the land

to change, not uselessly, the world”.4

As if in the words he was living already the beginning of any structure: words dissolution. It suits to warn, not uselessly, the architecture of the words.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho. PhD Architect
Madrid. December 2015.
Author of the Parráfos de arquitectura#arquiParrafos


1 José Ángel Valente, Palabra, en “Material memoria“, 1979.

2 Ver Adrian Forty, “Words and Buildings: a Vocabulary of Modern Architecture“, Londres, Thames & Hudson, 2004.

3 The “language” supposes a particular appropriation of the common language to all the men, the first collective privatization of the words.

4 José Ángel Valente, No inútilmente, en “La memoria y los signos“, 1966.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho
Doctor en Arquitectura, Decano de la Facultad de Tecnología y Ciencia UCJC. Presidente de la Asociación Sostenibilidad y Arquitectura, perteneciente al Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España. Director de MADC Arquitectos, estudio profesional con premios en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en la actualidad desarrolla proyectos en España y Noruega. Escritor y crítico de arquitectura, es autor de los libros “Párrafos de Arquitectura. Core(oh)grafías” (2016) y “Arquitectura y Cambio Climático” (2018).
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