The million-dollar machine and the joy of architecture | Luis Gil Pita

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On the adequacy of a public space in the Tilos. Teo 2018. Eduardo Cruz Aguiar.

“I always liked to talk about architecture as fun; if it is not done happily it is not Architecture. This joy is precisely the Architecture, the satisfaction that is felt. The emotion of Architecture makes us smile, it makes us laugh. Not life”.

Alejandro de la Sota

Rereading Alejandro de la Sota one realizes instantly that most of the architecture has become sad, very sad, not to see it but to live it, to understand it, because rarely is anything discovered beyond its photography. Even in this sense, that of its photographic representation, has come to take one more step towards the null risk that architects take today, producing an atonal novelty, because, until recently, some photographers were called by architects to finish their work and replace the lack of character proposed -that is, the photographers put with their work the tension that lacked the architecture they portrayed-now in certain works the architects come to prepare with their vain architecture the work of photographs the photographer.

A forecast that is perverse, in an advance to what should be the role of the photographer as an observer, stiffening and canceling free reading that every building must generate its viewers and users, introducing a double falsetto, in a twist of the already non-existent and imaginary, of something that obviously should be real. These architectural expositions, so publishable, have been converted into a prison, a funeral for the creative and vital proposal that every architecture exercise should provide us, betraying the trust and hope that came to be given even in the architecture that failed, because this At least she was the one who took the risk. There are many disappointments, every day more and very close.

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

But life, which does not make you laugh, as Sota says, also gives you moments of reunion and enthusiasm with architects of all time (also thanks to the work of photographers that allow us to review like Ana Amado – here, contrary to what was previously mentioned. architects Oíza, Arniches-Domínguez, Fdez. del Amo make architecture and photographers photograph … -), and with new and young people, who revive you as an architect and give you back hope as a citizen. They are minor projects and works, only in their appearance and scale, because these architects have practically only the gaps and margins left to work, but great in their intensity and transforming consciousness. You ask these professionals and, indirectly, their works and, unlike the architects we referred to in the previous paragraph, they respond that they are imperfect, that they are full of obstacles, that it is not worth the trouble and the cites, and they say it without false modesty.

We understand them, because to continue working with that level of commitment in the difficult contemporaneity that they have had to inhabit, it is preferable to go unnoticed. However, these conscious awkwardness or imperfections seem to us to be -as the proposals that Javier Tomeo makes in his literature through his literary characters, imperfect, asymmetric, lame, deaf, cross-eyed, with small defects or with injuries and defects, which have allowed them to to lead a different life that is much harder but richer than that ordered and envisaged in the first instance – the tectonics of the authentic creative process, the real argument that is what makes life and architecture itself difficult and convoluted but at the same time Tense and natural. Support structure of diverse activity in a covered outdoor space.

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

We said that one of these moments of illusion read in projects full of life, is the reconfiguration of the public space of the Parque de los Tilos in Teo, city council next to that of Santiago de Compostela, by the architect Eduardo Cruz Aguiar. Completed in 2018 it is a project that is not easily defined, since it is a performance on a public space that transversally crosses many of the basic principles of architecture and, unwittingly, of its profound culture.

The architect himself when asked about its meaning says:

“I would not know how to define it. Maybe it’s an artifact. A space-mechanism for uncertain uses. It does not stop being an infrastructure supporting diverse activity in a covered outdoor space”.

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

That not knowing very well what one has done, that conscious insecurity, is the first clue that makes us feel and be able to read that we are facing this construction inhabiting a work of architecture at the root.

Only in appearance, this piece is a simple covering in the form of a flat slab with a quadrangular plan, whose purpose is to protect a preexisting area that extends – in a circular way – beyond the own and new covering, without marking a strictly defined domain. The objective of this protection is to reserve at least a part of the total space of the place of the atmospheric inclemencies, especially of the water -in the form of open enclosure- allowing to use part of it in rainy days or in other summer moments offering shade under the strong sun.

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

The aforementioned covering slab is perforated asymmetrically by a series of skylights impermeable to water by means of the interposition of a membrane of the ETFE type. Lucernarios that are projected and variable light cannons on the ground plane, at the same time helping to stiffen the slab itself. The main architectural action brought about by this covering, that of protecting an open and apparently undefined area, is completed with the reservation of a semi-closed core, for the toilets and the storage of several common materials, and with the location of a series of tables circular to the interior and exterior of the protection, all of them kind of bumpers of a habitable pimball that generates a wide variability of uses to the citizen.

The changing domain that is generated in the form of shade or protection, is projected centrifugally towards a more remote outer perimeter, through the positioning of large banks of open semicircular shape.

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

Little more would the author say, except the constructive efforts involved, to resolve such a subtle and tense structure. Quite more -architecture-, says the contemplation of the restructured place to see the open and diverse uses made by citizens-children, the elderly, merchants, musicians, associations …- of this architecture when you stay in it weather.

That it does not exist nearby, does not mean that there is no enclosure, as would be mandatory according to the classical principles of architecture, only that in the case of this “open building”, the fence is materialized by a free edge, an invisible wall but perceptible, born of the changing projection of the shadow, and also of the stain of the thrown water, actions both that “build” the dry and humid limit of a changing domain according to the atmospheric conditions. Beyond this more physical domain, the building expands in other senses through the changing relations of control and visual dependence between the external bank and the covered actions, whether of the children’s games and the surveillance of the elderly, well of music concerts or market that are located inland, but that grow out …

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

And in the meantime, the projection into the interior of the natural light of the skylights during the day, returns during the night by means of the artificial lighting to the exterior by the same holes, now becoming lamps to the adjoining domestic neighborhood of the park, in a movement of systole- diastole, of yogic breathing, which seeks architectural expression at different times, also nocturnal.

An almost precarious architecture, apart from the standardized building, which is a present for citizens, but also a gift to architects for the presence and richness of deep reference to the culture of architecture. A luxury that we can feel crossed, inhabiting the shadow of this building, the open reading of the classics Aldo van Eyck, Le Corbusier, Noguchi, Mies, but also beyond, the reference of his architectural proposal to social and ethical commitment with an ecology of the infrastructure of the teacher Maarten Struijs.

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

Struijs says it clearly

“The perfect space is the one that lodges in its interior a disinterested dwelling seeking a more stable environment to prevent the citizen of the cities from feeling in a permanent state of strangeness in his own city”.

Something that seems very evident in this work and being this and all the references provided indirectly by Eduardo Cruz Aguiar, because who reflects and proposes the project, is left, without preconceptions, entreverar of the most basic needs of architecture, which they are what the free citizen needs most and also the high culture of cheerful architecture …

A joy-laughter in the way that Sota said, as satisfaction that is felt and transmitted as it emanates from the project’s own action, something so unusual. The same satisfaction that when playing the million dollar machine, the flipper, the pimball, we felt seeing the dance and running to the steel ball, as a free citizen, between the bumpers and the open hallways before listening to the dry “tac” of the extra game.

Espacio público en los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018.
Public space in Los Tilos. Teo. Eduardo Cruz. 2018 | Photography: Luis Gil Pita

Luis Gil Pita, architect.
Santiago de Compostela, november 2018

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