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

 City of the Justice. Detail of the winning project, of the equipment Frechilla and López-Peláez

Inside the big works of new plant there are those who, probably for ambitious, have been interrupted for lack of financing because of the economic crisis. The principal one of them is so called “City of the Justice”, to constructing in a few very peripheral areas, contiguous to the last extension of the airport of Cards, the terminus “T-4”.

The fact itself of the “City of the Justice” it has looked like to me always a very bad idea precisely for this peripheral emplacement, which avoids all the advantages that the city means, especially the tied ones to the public transport, though not only, certainly. He does not also understand himself why the administration of the Justice thought about this possibility, not why the Architects’ College her agreed and collaborated with her.

The administration of the State has in Madrid important left buildings, or in partial or unnecessary use, which they could have avoided this peripheral idea of the “City of the Justice”. Completely left one finds what was the “Most general Franco” Military Hospital (it turns out to be a nuisance, saying is of step, to have to say still to names as this one), that it occupies nothing less than an apple of the widening (that of Isaac Peral, Joaquín Maria Lopez, Hilarión Eslava and Graceful Polite), having something enclosed of free space without building. This one might have been one of the bases of new “City of the Justice”, and it is in an extraordinary emplacement.

But, in addition, closely together (to ten minutes walking) there is the semi-busy one (or the feignedly busy one) Vehicle fleet, in another splendid situation, with main face to Cea Bermúdez. I believe that in this case, and though the front is not so big, the surface in plant is major that an apple, since actually it takes two. And it turns out easy enough to look for site in the periphery to a garage for the official cars, supposing that this question is necessary. With it we would have more than two apples of the widening, and very nearby, to dedicate them to the spaces of Madrid de la Justicia. It is very probable that it was sufficient.

But, if not, there stays still an important possibility, that of former “Department of the Air”, today Headquarters (?) of the Army of the Air, which we can imagine occupied only partly, and that if not, so much it gives. When three pro-Franco departments of the army turned into one, that of Defense, they gained, unusually, a fourth building, which was Information and Tourism in the dictatorship and then Culture, in the democracy, in the prolongation of the Castilian one. Since now it would be simple well to force the army to withdraw to 3 buildings, or when other one looks for anyone between the multiple ones that it has left and without use. It, supposing that the army continues being necessary and not a fiction.

Gutiérrez Soto’s old pro-Franco building has enough character to receive the sign “Courthouse”, more enough than for the current use. He would seem to be even done in origin for this new use, if this way out. One would see enough, and even it us would convince, probably, that the Justice might work. Be since it will be, already come: more than three apples, in the same neighborhood, closely together, that might have supported the “City of the Justice”, instead of taking her to him to the periphery. We owe to the economic crisis some advantage, and not only disadvantages, since it is this one of there having been loaded the “City of the Justice”. Still we would be in time in order that there was done something of what I say, or similar things.

But, since it is known, it does not end here the thing. There was celebrated an important contest destined for the areas of the periphery, supported by the Department of Justice, the Community of Madrid and by the Architects’ College, organisms all of them who had accepted, and up to invented, the ludicrous situation out of the city. But it raises, a juror that I prefer not reminding gave the prize to an offer of the equipment of the architects Frechilla and Lopez-Peláez, good and educated professionals, who proposed, since it is known well, and nevertheless, a “City of the Justice” composed by buildings obligadamente of circular plant!

The madness of the emplacement was completed by different this one of the planimetric form. The buildings are never almost round, except that they are bullrings, central churches, and, perhaps different any, in very special cases. Even the central churches were never very convincing and became very small. The circular form is not very own of the buildings, though, stubbornly, there are architects, supposedly good, that continue using it in some occasions. There can be remembered that Sáenz de Oíza, Oak grove, Fig trees, Navarrese one Baldewg, Fernandez Alba, I Clown around, … they did or projected round buildings, but they were at least singular and isolated. What he had never proposed anybody was the systematic complete one of not singular buildings and all of them of circular plant. Which does not want to say that it is not a beautiful offer – the drawings of the contest were very nice; if not, they had not gained it-, or that the round buildings are not beautiful. The bad thing is that besides beautiful they are absurd and, in addition, little idiots. At least, taken in his set.

The certain thing is that, also from this point of view, the economic recession has freed us, at least at the moment, of a notable silly thing.

(to be continued…)

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

Madrid · marzch 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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