The public architecture in Madrid and in the beginning of the 21st century (II) | Antón Capitel

Building of aulario of the UNED in the former Pious Schools, of Linazasoro

Three accomplishments for the UNED in Lavapiés on the part of Linazasoro are also very qualified. I say 3, because the office block and education is, the rehabilitation of the ruin of the Church for library and the design of the square. It has been also a place in which the good architecture contributes glaringly to an important improvement of the city. The building has an urban completely conventional volume as such volume, but absolutely qualified by an enormously successful front, which can defend even as a paradigmatic example for the old town, from the figurative and formal point of view.

In the rehabilitation of the Church for Library, there has taken the position to value the existing ruin as such ruin; this is, valuing his great dramatic quality and monumentalidad, and him superposing the elements necessary for the rehabilitation according to an idea of modern contrast. One might have taken another method, or another point of view, but, in view of the excellent result, it is possible to affirm that this one should have been, probably, the best possible one. Point of view, coincidental, on the other hand, with the contemporary convention that is considered to be more suitable and “orthodox”, for what it cannot give place to the protest of anybody. This action seems to me to be exemplary in his set, and so much from the institutional aspect as from urban and architectural.

The Museum for the Royal Collections, of Mansilla and Tuñón (product of a contest that had very troubled aspects between the participants, since it will be remembered) is still in march, since it is known well, though it can his stamp turns already so much on the image of the historical cornice of Madrid, since (if there is visited) the essential aspect of his interior futures. Though I know that the conservative mentalities, and in good average ignoramuses, will say (and already they have said) that the building deteriorates, or it commits an outrage (as if he was a terrorist) against the image of this cornice, it is not true, since it can verify the one who is going to see it and has a minimal criterion. What yes that commits an outrage, really, against the image of the cornice is the awkward neo-cathedral, and this already does not have any remedy.

The Royal CollectionsMuseum by Moreno Mansilla y Tuñón

The external vision of the new museum, like a basement for a temple that does not deserve it and that continues with efficiency that of the Royal palace, manages to consider a modern convention as for the image – figurative neutrality, simplicity, abstraction, … – and achieving that, to the time, this one turns, equally, into an image with a certain classic character, concretely Doric, into a powerful and attractive colonnade that does not claim another thing that the manifestation of his obsessive and successful cadence. It is an image that is neither ancient nor modern, or that – if it is preferred – is both things. And it is so attentive to his important place as to the time in which it takes place.

If I am loyal to the reality, I have to admit, nevertheless, that it has not looked like to me so well the least important external vision; this is, which is lateral and near and gives to the slope of the Vega. There the architects have been left to go for the idea of exhibiting the section and this has not seemed to me to be successful. It is a modern gesture that I consider to be erroneous; I believe that it was better to have wondered for the way in which the principal topic could give the return to his corner, as the classic architects were doing.

But, on the other hand, there are also the interiors of this building, conceived with all logic like what actually it is, a great wall of containment, and it is necessary to admit that these, in his simplicity, are splendid. Since already I have said, they can be estimated now in his essence though they are not ended, and though they lack the jewels that in his day they are going to contain and that will increase very much his attraction.

(to be continied)

Antonio González-Capitel Martínez · Doctor architect · Professor in ETSAM

Madrid · march 2013

Antón Capitel

Es arquitecto y catedrático de Proyectos de la Escuela de Arquitectura de Madrid, fue director de la revista Arquitectura (COAM) de 1981-86 y de 2001-09. Historiador, ensayista y crítico, ha publicado numerosos artículos en revistas españolas y extranjeras sobre arquitectura española e internacional. Entre sus libros destacan diferentes monografías sobre arquitectos.

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