The beginning of the order | Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Imagen procedente del libro: "Francisco Cabrero, arquitecto. 1939-1978"; edición a cargo de Javier Climent, Xarait Ediciones, pág. 119.
Crystal Pavilion by Francisco de Asís | “Francisco Cabrero, arquitecto. 1939-1978“; edition at the expense of Javier Climent, Xarait Ediciones, pages. 119.

The box of crystal supposed the most evident expression of the theses of the modernity. The technology and the new materials were allowing the revelation of

“a new world – suitably, transparently, crystalline, electrically-, in opposition to the condition – underground, dirty of coal-, that was characterizing to the Victorian work”.1

The architecture establishes an order. Though Mies constructs at the end of the twenties a pristine idea of German re-arises after the First World war, years later in Spain architects as Alejandro de la Sota, Corrales and Molezún or Francisco de Asís Cabrero in Madrid, they would take charge making the heroic modern patina that it should represent to the regime from the popular bulletins of the NODO.2

The Crystal Pavilion by Francisco de Asís Cabrero has been compared of way repeated with the Mies´ work, which obsession in Alberto Campo Baeza’s words was it of

“offering the box of crystal to the humanity”.3

Concretely with the project for the Convention Hall in Chicago, 1953-54, both for the big dimensions and for the definition of the empty space across a metallic structure of great singing. Nevertheless many are the differences between these two Herculean projects: unidirectional structure bidirectional vs; rectangular geometry square vs; simple construction vs refined technology; and in our opinion, the disagreement more developer of between all of them: the high establishment vs semiburied of the horizontal plane.

Concretamente con el proyecto para el Convention Hall de Chicago, 1953-54, tanto por las grandes dimensiones como por la definición del espacio vacío a través de una estructura metálica de gran canto. Sin embargo muchas son las diferencias entre estos dos hercúleos proyectos: estructura unidireccional vs bidireccional; geometría rectangular vs cuadrada; sencilla construcción vs tecnología refinada; y en nuestra opinión, el desacuerdo más revelador de entre todos ellos: el establecimiento elevado vs semienterrado del plano horizontal.

Mies presents a principal resunked plane I concern the level of the exterior square, generating an introspective space isolated visually of the exterior4. Cabrero, conscious of the privileged position of the box of crystal, raises the principal plane a plant on the level of access, generating an observatory viewing-point on the cornice and origin of the city of Madrid.

Fotomontaje, Mies van der Rohe, Convention Hall de Chicago, 1953-54 (MOMA)
Photomontage, Mies van der Rohe, Convention Hall de Chicago, 1953-54 (MOMA)

The access for the front West allows to cross longitudinally the explanatory space and to reach finally the large window East from which to contemplate the city gilded in the light of the late afternoon5. The Crystal Pavilion establishes then not only from the technical order or the cultural order, but from the landscape order like it they were doing the Parthenon or the National Gallery of Berlin. As if every decision of project was determining a special class of order and every order he was sending to an essential beginning beyond our space and our time. The beginning of the order.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho. PhD Architect
Madrid. April 2015.
Author of Parráfos de arquitectura. #arquiParrafos


1 Rafael Moneo mentions Quetglas in the prologue of “The crystallized horror. Images of the Pavilion of Germany of Mies van der Rohe“, Josep Quetglas, Barcelona, Actar, 2001.

2 In the period 1958-64 finish seminal works as the Pavilion of the Hexagons of Corrales and Molezón, the Civil government of Tarragona or the Gymnasium You Astonish of Jack, and the building Arrives or the Pavilion of Goatherd’s Crystal, the latter coexisting in it surprises distopía with that of Corrales and Molezún in the country house of Madrid.

3 Alberto Campo Baeza, “The Constructed Idea“, Buenos Aires, Librería Técnica CP67, 2000, “Reflections in the golden eye of Mies van der Rohe. On the Pavilion of Crystal of the Country house in Madrid by Francisco de Asís Cabrero”, pages. 88-91.

4 The acquaintance photomontage of the top structure of the one that hangs the American flag exceeds the heads of hundreds of persons with placards, shows to the whites of egg the construction of a space ensimismado, delimited by an opaque closing of black marble.

5 The project was rehabilitated by the Entresitio study between 2006-14 respecting the elements identitarios of the original project.

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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