Lessons of the archetype | Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

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To beginning of the 20s in Germany, a notable group of traditionalist architects establish – in an individual way – a model sachlich, objectively, for the project of architecture1. Actually, the objectivity arises from the common acceptance of an archetype, a symbolic origin that forms a part of the unconscious group in a certain context.

The classification and study of each and every of his light variations, it allows to identify the constant elements of a series, already be constructive, distributive or compositiva, enabling the identification of the type: the architectural project like the interpretation of one to know inherited.

Curiously, it will be the construction the variable germinal of form and habitability, a luck of preliminary condition:

“For Schmitthenner, in the process of constructing, technology means always handcrafted work with a view to the modern Project. The handcrafted work takes implicitly one to be able to do (trade) and the essence of the same one consists always of the formal reduction”.2

Neither the form, nor the style, not so at least the function: the construction is the architecture. The echo of this affirmation could seem to be slightly anachronistic and an enclosed descontextualizado, improperly of a fragile contemporaneousness and desmaterializada, boring and even for moments irritant, rendered up to the practical exhaustion of the architecture as material configuration. It is not like that.

The arrested observation of the section type included by Schmitthenner in his book Gebaute Form3, reveals an enormous complexity and diversity of solutions: the walls specialize his section depending on the supported load; the vertical clearance of the floors turns out to be lightly different; the geometry of the hollows specializes itself depending on the room to which they serve; the horizontal structure of the wrought ones gets lighter with the height up to reaching the seminal emptiness of the cover.

The construction despliega the real spatial complexity of the architecture, precedes to the room and his formal recognition. In Peter Zumptor:’s words:

“I do not understand a way of projecting in that the form is decided first and the materials later”.4

As if before even of the technology – in his origin – one was finding the matter with his own strengths and limitations. Remote lessons of the archetype.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho. PhD Architect
Madrid. February 2016.
Author de Parráfos de arquitectura#arquiParrafos


1 Heinrich Tessenow, Paul Schmitthenner, Paul Bonatz, etc.

2 José Manuel García Roig, Paul Schmitthenner. Proyecto de Arquitectura y Sachlichkeit, Madrid, Mairea, 2011, pág. 11.

Gebaute Form. Variationen über ein Thema mit 60 Zeichnungen im Faksimil (The constructed form. Variations on a topic with 60 drawings in facsimile)Paul Schmitthenner, 1984.

4 Peter Zumptor, Dialog with Peter Zumptor, byJosé Manuel Cabrero. Full interview.


Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Doctor en Arquitectura, Decano de la Facultad de Tecnología y Ciencia UCJC. Presidente de la Asociación Sostenibilidad y Arquitectura,  perteneciente al Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España. Director de MADC Arquitectos, estudio profesional con premios en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en la actualidad desarrolla proyectos en España y Noruega. Escritor y crítico de arquitectura, es autor de los libros “Párrafos de Arquitectura. Core(oh)grafías” (2016) y “Arquitectura y Cambio Climático” (2018).

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