The functionality, the comfort, the mode and the language of the architects | Antón Capitel


The Fountainhead, by King Vidor (EE.UU, 1949)

Is functionality the same thing that comfort? Not gentleman, they can be perfectly opposite. In the stage through that we live one takes the comfort, and not so much the functionality, and this way this one sacrifices itself often to other one, with proved global villains.

An expressive example is like, in many buildings, one of the doors of a cortavientos, concebida to be always closed, is blocked on the part of the users in order that it remains opened and, this way, to happen with comfort; it is to say, without having to open her, still in spite of the fact that these doors are constructed in order that they are of easy opening and are closed alone. With it, the effect of wind-shields disappears and, this way, the functionality of the well-considered mechanism falls apart. But there does not matter, since the comfort triumphs in this epoch, succesor of the modern one, who was functional.

It can the example turns in our own School, where the immediate foyer to the principal door, before the big one, does the times of wind-shields of this one, with several doors of sway that work perfectly. Those of both ends are normally blocked in order that they remain opened. I close them when I happen, but to the moment, or the following day – when I turn them to seeing – they are equal. Actually, they have been already so forced that they remain opened.

The sublimation of the comfort and of the lack of functionality they are the electrical doors that are opened before the presence of someone, and that are a great architectural and climatic perversion. It wind-shields are because they remove the effect, unless they replace it with a curtain of air conditioning. That is to say, they spend energy, based on despising the mechanics within reach of every human being. In addition they work fatally, because if you are a little nearby they are opened without coming to story. When one waits in an airport, it can amuse walking and seeing as the stupid door it is opened again and again for your step, not very nearby. These doors have to of be prohibiting for being so idiotic as antiecological.

But let’s go to the mode. Today it is fashionable to dress bad, in altars of the comfort, and to presume of modern and of not conventional, though one is more conservative and authoritarian than the Aguirre, since one takes very much the disguise.

Since I am dressed – in winter – more or less in master of the 40s or 50s, and since almost nobody goes to this way, I have wondered porqué do it, and have analyzed my way of dressing, since it has not been very conscious, but a fruit of the use. First there is the American, elegant and comfortable article, which removes itself and hangs with facility, and that it buttons and unbuttons with buttons, this is that it allows, to control the shades of what you wrap up yourself with many facility. It has, at least, two big exterior pockets and other two interiors, in which it fits the content of a lady’s purse of average size. Certain it is that great they take American, but great others do not take her. What do they do with the things? Do they take all in the trousers? Well it is true also that enough carry rucksack, appliance that has emigrated from the sport to the civil life; but, nuisance goes!

Then there is the tie or the handkerchief, which, alternative, I take in winter, to protect the throat and to give suitable auction to the shirt that, without one of them, does not have it. If not, you would have to take priest’s shirt, since they make some oriental, or be stripped the shirt off, thing that only stays well during the benign climate. Some of them take the top button of the shirt buttoned, which does not remove the cold, but trasmite a slightly antiquated and rural dignity. I take the tie when it is convenient for me, but because it is a light scarf, and since it is functional though slightly inconvinient, I replace it when there is convenient for me for the handkerchief, a masculine article that almost has got lost, and that it is possible to take and guard from him, or stop hanging, with extreme facility. I observe that many take under the American a jersey of more or less high neck, instead of tie or handkerchief, but he supposes it that in the interiors you have to take the jacket from you or to spend heat, at least I, that I am not sensitive to cold. The tie or the handkerchief allow that the scarf should not exist, or that this one uses only in extreme cases. If they do not remove, the scarf has to be used always if it is cold, though it does not do very much, and of there these ostentatious scarves, knotted externally of the coat, thing that has turned into a stylistic, substitute question of the scarf hung or put inside the coat.

Then the coat is. I have 4 or 5 different pieces from coat, but, when it does real cold – and as, for functionality and for comfort I do not take jersey – have decided to take one of blue cloth, which has the most conventional image, but because it is the one that more shelters the being of wool, and because it has buttons, instead of zipper, very functional but very inconvinient appliances with which always I support ignited you fight. The functionality falls apart if the inconvenience is extreme.

Finally the hat, flex is and of wings, which tantísimo one was using before, since we see in the movies and preserve in the recollection, and which now scarcely are used. I am charmed with it, and I use it constant in winter and when it rains. For that we are bald it is indispensable in winter, and in the rain it is the better thing. Much better than an umbrella and better than any other cap, since the wing completes it protects you with extraordinary efficiency.

This way, so, I go in winter disguised as gentleman as the 40s or 50s, since I have discovered (account gave me great) that is the most functional and comfortable enough thing. That is to say, I seem to be disguised because almost nobody goes this way, but, actually, I it am not. Those who are disguised are the others. They are disguised of proletarians and of manual workers, of young women, of trippers in the field, of Sundays travelers, of sportsmen, of military men and policemen in suit of task, … They Follow an excessive comfort, slightly functionally, I plead that they use to look for an image that seems to them to be modern and slightly conventional, and that proclaims nevertheless his certain perplexity. They do not go so ridiculous as the executive poor that have to go in the torrid summer with jacket and tie, but they are dangerously near them, since they are equally slaves of his own image. This is, they obey equally, without too many advantages, a question of style. (In addition, they lose the good treatment that civil servants and other prominent figures are in the habit of giving the one who is dressed in “gentleman”, just in case.)

There turns out to be, in end, very curious the mode of this epoch, in which almost the whole world is dressed badly precisely by stylistic prejudices and without another thing obtains with it that a generally slightly awkward, deceitful and ineffective image. Though there are many exceptions, certainly, and from different points of view.

Will it be the spirit of the epoch? This rare thing, undoubtedly it must exist, …

But we go now to another question, this time of written language. Following, naturally, the English writing – though this should be own of any language – great people avoid the sign of admiration puts initially, even that of interrogation, as if this out of a great comfort. That performs opposite to the functional thing it turns out evident. The Castilian is the only language of the world that puts two signs of admiration and of interrogation, initially and ultimately, and this warns of the sense of the phrase from the beginning, annotating it in addition suitably, and avoiding the puns and the delays of information that take place in other languages. To remove that of the beginning, since it is now fashionable, gives comfort and removes functionality. It yes, it does modern. But it is not elegant certainly. There is no thing any more bowl that to imitate english men and Yankees.

Cuadernos Summa-Nueva Visión

Let’s continue, now with the mistakes of bundle in the language. “Concretizar”, one hears saying sometimes. Almost the whole world knows that this verb does not exist and that the only one that costs is something more short, to make concrete. To believe that it is thinner, or more expressive, to lengthen the words, it is a superstition, and almost always it finishes in a mistake.

Between the architects it is heard sometimes “complejizar”, that also it is erroneous, besides very ugly, and that has to be replaced for “complicating”, if it is wanted, or for “doing more complex”, if one pledges in using the latter form. In Castilian, if they want to lengthen the things to be more rhetorical, generally the phrase has to increase, not the word.

But this deserves major comment, so the palabras “complexity” and “complex” are mitificadas for the architects, probably since those famous Argentine notebooks of Summa-Nueva Visión dedicated one to the complexity and, certainly, from Venturi’s book. That is to say, since the racionalist simplicity stopped being a myth to be replaced with his opposite.

Nevertheless, and there is created what is created, complicated and complex sound synonymous. To giving birth of the 16th century, some writers culteranos duplicated the words, generally based on the participles, inventing this way “complex” directly extracted of the Latin, to duplicate with a cultismo the “complicated” Spanish evolved from the Latin language. There are different many, since absent-mindedly and abstract, narrowly and strictly, etc.

The certain thing is that complicated and complex they have his first meaning as synonymous, though they have also others that they are specific. The dictionary of the academy clarifies it this way, and gives like synonymous also to the words “complication” and “complexity”, which there defines as “Difficulty or snarl proceeding from the concurrence and meeting of diverse things “.

Complicated it is defined like “of difficult comprehension” or “compound of great number of pieces”. Complex like “that consists of diverse elements”, “complicated” and “set or union of two or more things “. Good is seen, very similar, practically equal. The differences are of shade, which almost is never attended; and they are also, like always, a question of style. The real difference is that the complicated thing is more difficult or dense and the complex thing is only compound.

Complex has other meanings, and of there his differentiated and not superstitious use. It has an architectural meaning: complex is a set of buildings, for the good ones; and, more specifically, industrial or industrial and sports, or of what is. Complex is also a psychological or psychoanalytic term, since it is well-known.

The certain thing is that complex and complicated it is the same thing. And I would dare to say that complicated he turns out to be even almost always more adapted for the architecture, which tends to be, in effect, ” of difficult comprehension ” and ” composed by great number of pieces “. And, also, that – since we know the designers – is complicated in the sense of difficultly, not easily to resolve, since he attends to too many requirements that they do not marry easily between yes. Be since it will be, I go prefiriendo to speak rather of complicated that of complex on having referred to the architecture.

(Certainly, to say “requirements” instead of requirements, which it is the only correct word, is another standard error of the architects. It is an anglicism, which has not been admitted into Castilian, and that proceeds, I believe, of the unfortunate translation of the book ” Complexity and privacy “, of Alexander and Chermaief. At least, in him it is abundant. Also one has to warn that “privacy” is another anglicism, though this one has been ended admitting for the use. More correct it is to say ” private life “. Already Sáenz de Oíza was saying it on having spoken about the title of this book.)

But where the architects curl the curl it is on having used the word “typology”. They say, without modesty, such things as: “these are the tipologías of the housings”, on having taught, simply, the diverse plants of the units of housing of a building. They commit two mistakes. The first one is that the completion “logia” refers without exception to a study or agreement, or, perhaps, and as much, to a classification. It is not a question, so, of tipologías, but of a collection of diverse units. There is neither study, nor agreement, nor even classification.

The second mistake is that of it does not treat of types either, in all that this word it refers only to something generic or schematic, to a set of characteristics, rather abstract, of that they inform several models or different units. It can think, to catch on, that type is, more or less, synonymous of class, and that, this way, it never refers to individuals. If it is said: these are the types of the housings, not to be a mistake one would treat of that we us are refiriendo to a few units that, though you make concrete, represent others that are different, but that they have the same characteristics of general disposition. If we refer only to diverse units we have to say: these are the different housings of the building.

When, on the other hand, a promoter teaches the housing “type” he is not wrong always, so though he proves to be a concrete model often he claims with him to represent to more housings that are not exactly equal. Or, if it does not make it like that, he is wrong equally.

Let’s forget, so, the tipologías and the types, unless, really, we us are refiriendo to them. To hear these mistakes in the university world turns out to be really slightly unusual.

Antón Capitel · Doctor architect · professor in ETSAM

Madrid · may 2009

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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