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

Architects’ new College, court. Gonzalo Moure, architect

The Architects’ Official College of Madrid has left his traditional headquarters of the street of Rolled wafer, since it is known well, and has happened to occupy the new building of Hortaleza’s street, in the lot of what they were in the past San Antón’s Pious Schools. It after a contest gained by the architect Gonzalo Moure, who realized the work and finished it in 2012.

The building arose in an agreement with the municipality, to whom it belongs actually, having the Architects’ College a concession for 70 years. The set consists of the College and of some parts constructed by agreement and directly for the municipality, since it is a School of Music, an Infantile School and a municipal swimming pool. We cannot know now – we nor will know it ever, so we will happen in his moment to raise mallows – if the Architects’ College has done well or badly in this agreement. They are not good times for the professional Colleges, and much less for ours, but to venture his future to the term that is is simply impossible.

In the urban sense, I think that the accomplishment of the Architects’ new College has been a very good operation, since it has transformed a sinister ruin of the old town, and a sinister place, into a shining building and a place. This zone of the city, Hortaleza’s street, is one of the central sectors of Madrid still strongly degraded, as for his aspect and his conservation, for what the transformation that the College has supposed has been of benefit to the sector of extraordinary form. The College reinforces the quality of the city and of his old town on having become strong in the center and not having fled to the periphery. The change in the image of the street trasmite the quality of the renovation in eloquent form.

Architectonically speaking, it is a question actually of a building of new plant, since of the former Schools You Peep only there was staying a front, of very simple composition, and whose material treatment and from closing also new being has needed. The urban image is, so, more or less the same one, if we exempt the notable change that supposes going on from the abandon and the dirt to the new surfaces and to the cleanliness.

The set realized by Gonzalo Moure has had, to my deal, two positive principal characteristics. The most basic and important, her of treating itself about the arrangement of a set concerning a great court; this is, a traditional accession that reveals his modern force and that improves the conventional tradition on having be realized by means of an opened architecture and be transparent both to the traffic and to the uses. To see the College from out is to feel and largely the great court sees interior garden, and to be inside it is also to enjoy the variegated and immediate relation with the urban space. Madrid, a city of courts, almost always conventional secret, teaches like that this southern and Mediterranean condition that his geographical position tends not to reveal, and in the new College there has been done by means of an interpretation that has joined harmonicly ancient and modern, and that it honors this way to the collective institution of the architects, and very concretely to the designer, for having been capable of carrying out her.

 Another good characteristic is stylistic. It treats itself that, in our eclectic ones and figuratively silly times, someone decides to continue being lucidly modern – modern of the teachers-, this is, to follow the racionalist tradition, very concretely miesiana, and to cash in him stylistically to this trend, which formal achievements are not exhausted, though they are known. The building objects this way his literal modernity to the formal values of the old town, and obtains great success in it, since the rationalism is not another thing – for a lot of time ago – that a new classicism.

 An important shade of this modern position is the value that the building has given to the material construction and very concretely to the structure. As modern building and of tradition miesiana, the resistant structure takes a very intense value, happening to be in the interior the most intense figurative, almost only material.

The operation, so, is excellent, at least from an abstract point of view; this is, architectural and urban. We wish to the College, first – on having had been the one who has risked and financed the operation – and to the Town hall and to the own city, a success also completely from the concrete point of view of the equipment and the civil service.

Detail of the Prolongation of the Castilian one, by Ezquiaga and Ábalos

The prolongation of the Castilian one is the most important urban operation projected by the municipality. With a few urban schemes not too convincing and proceeding from the architect Ricardo Bofill, first, and already years ago, and with a new design realized by the equipment formed by Jose Maria Ezquiaga and Iñaqui los Abuse, it does a little time, the most important axis of the capital tries to extend beyond his precarious final today in the showy knot of traffic that at a height of the Hospital of ” The peace ” connects the street with the M-30 and with the roads of Apiary and of Burgos.

The first virtue of this important prolongation, if it was managing to be done, would be precisely it of this final stupid of the avenue destroys, today senselessly entrusted to a silly and ugly solution ingenieril of the traffic rolled instead of to a design of urban character. The delivery of the city to the engineers and to the companies of public works, which have extracted with it fat benefits, is one of the principal ones and more left hands typical of the municipal management of Madrid, which has obtained this way, nowadays, the city most riddled with tunnels and with urban development mistakes of ingeneery character.

On the other hand, the design projected by the equipment of Ezquiaga and Them Abuse overcome fully, since it was logical to wait, so much the position of the limited Catalan designer as that of the engineers and companies of public works, presenting much more attractive solutions. They have been very concrete solutions, even from the architectural point of view, and figuratively interesting. The doubt that assaults us on having contemplated them turns out to be evident: will it resist the city, without great wastage of the promised quality, the royal architectures that in his day appear there when this preliminary design turns simply into ordinances? It will be said that it is what happens always with anyone that is the urban development planning, and one will be like that near the truth, certainly, what does not take an apex of importance from him to this matter. Given, especially, the ordinary and slightly qualified condition of the professional and commercial contemporary architecture.

But this one continues being a “abstract” question, saying this in the sense that has been used before; this is, corresponding to the architecture and to the image and the form of the city. Speaking about more concrete things, this is, of the functioning of the city itself, there is another important doubt that assaults us when we think about the prolongation of the Castilian one.

If there compares the Recluses’ Walk and that of the Castilian one with the Diagonal Avenue of Barcelona, for example, similar street in that city, it will be remembered since the latter it is of a more intense urban life, has more trades, more activity, more general vitality and more attractive for the viandante. Probably it is it because the Barcelonian Diagonal cuts directly the widening, which in Madrid is not already so exact.

But if we go in Madrid to what it is known as the prolongation of the Castilian one, from the New Departments, we will remember with facility that the urban life of this street is more than precarious, if there is discounted his condition of route of private and public traffic. The trades are scanty and the negligible vitality. And if it goes away beyond the square of Castile, the question worsens notably.

This way, so, the new prolongation of the Castilian one will it be able to manage to be a route provided with vitality, with urban life to the scale of the material importance and physics of the own route? Will it be able to overcome the pure condition of neighborhood of housings and of offices to which they would take the planned buildings to him? Will not it reveal, probably, that the Castilian one is a myth and that the sentimental culture of the above mentioned myth has been superior to the logic and to the urban development reality?

Perhaps we it will not verify, since it would turn out more that probably that the prolongation of the Castilian one was not another thing that a fantasy, a mirage, own of the ideas of the epoch previous to the current economic recession, and that this one will put the things in his site, scorning those urban extensions that do not make sense, today per today, in a city in inevitable decadence, very possibly in decrease. Perhaps be better like that, but at the time we will will to continue supporting the nude stupid of traffic of the end of the great axis, thing that the one who signs does not excuse.

Madrid | Autor: Pedro Lozano

I expect to have dedicated to the different works of public architecture of Madrid of last years something, at least, of the attention that is deserved. And it is of recognizing in them that, so much on state part, as municipal or institutional, the balance sheet is much more positive than in the immediately previous stage, and it in spite of some of the shades. I ask for excuses for the olvidos that perhaps it could have had, and also because they do not fit already in the limitations inherent in this writing, and since he had noticed in a beginning, the comments it brings over of the housings of public promotion, which so important and so abundant have been in the city and in this epoch.

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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