The teachers’ need | Antonio S. Rio Vázquez

Alejandro de la Sota | Fotografía: Xurxo Lobato
Alejandro de la Sota | Photography: Xurxo Lobato

The teachers’ need.
In the twentieth anniversary of Alejandro de la Sota’s death.

In the year 1966 there comes to Alejandro de la Sota’s study the Marquess of Alta Gracia, president of the Deputation orensana and of the advice of the provincial Savings bank. The motive of the visit was the order of a great formative and residential complex for this entity, and wanted that that young person was projecting it architect of Pontevedra with whom it had coincided with the Regional Agricultural Congress of 1944, now seated in Madrid with an important path to his backs. The presentation of the project, which would never manage to make real, accompanied from photographies of traditional constructions taken in Balcaide’s village, needed by the architect to one of the collaborators of the study.

The life of the teachers is full of attempts, of tests, of offers without materializing, they are fingerprints that mark a tour, which they seem to be erased by the rain and which later they reappear in other places, planning a coherent and constant path in spite of the emptinesses. To his side we find assistants, collaborators, attentive disciples who can turn into new teachers.

In 1976 Alejandro de la Sota finishes another project for Galicia, a very different order of before commented. It is a question of a housing in the proximities of his natal city. Everything is more familiar: the place, the clients, the scale, the architecture. It does little it was appearing in a television program as a nice house, lived. The aseptic emptiness transmitted by some domestic paradigms of the modernity was returning here in cozy home. Four decades after his accomplishment, it had not lost his original essence. Of the Jack, which he had written on the disappearance of the principal teachers of the Modern Movement, on that big and honourable orphanhood, it was meeting again with them in the project: from the graphical interpretation of the genesis of the house up to his magisterial construction integrating nature and geometry.

In the teachers, theory and practice go of the hand. It is learned of the made thing, but also of the designed, of the tested, of the rejected. When we remember the teachers of the modernity we do it in addition because they were employed at all the scales of the architecture: from the design to the city, from the settlement to the latticework, from the old wall to the new pipe.

In the summer of 1986, after a lot of time without coming to the city where there had been created the School of Architecture of Galicia, of the Jack it returns to Corunna to give a conference in the course Peripheral Alternatives to the Modern Movement organized by the International University Menéndez Pelayo. He is already a recognized and praised teacher, since it remains clear in the presentation that the introductory ones of the conference do. To the summons, there come former collaborators of the study, teachers and numerous students of the young woman Galician school, which some years later will put his name to the assembly hall.  In the beginning of the intervention it speaks about his way of working, defending the value that has to make the things with sense, sail removed from the currents, crossing the small temporary ones that could happen, trying a simple architecture and, especially, reasonably. And he remembers that it turns out to be to him more pleasing to speak to the pupils that to the teachers since those have the most opened ears. In 1991 it will turn the city to inaugurate an exhibition on his work. Already it will not be able to do it in 2002, when a new monographic sample is exposed in the museum projected by his former collaborator.

The teachers believe school. Not a closed world, of classrooms and examinations, but an opened universe, where disciples, pupils and followers are recognized and are reflected. There is no a teacher without a school where these lessons resound without schedules, transformed into suggestions, into orientations, into guides for a learning. And schools should not exist without teachers.

On February 14, 1996, Alejandro de la Sota dies in Madrid at the age of 82. On the table of the study it had the order of the extension of one of his more emblematic works: the Maravillas Gymnasium. There happen the samples of honoring and recognition of companions and collaborators. Between them, that of the author of Balcaide’s photos, who emphasizes his nearby teaching,

«where the life, the passion for the architecture, the reason and the sensibility interbreed so much and they are so difficult to separate. That we him have treated and been his pupils we can of his power of seduction, difficult know where the man ends and where it begins the work. Probably for it his more important legacy is precisely his attitude before the architecture. His absence leaves an emptiness. I think that it will fill with the stimulus of his recollection».

The teachers last, are atemporales. His educations come out his own existence. They ignore to the time in yes the same, foreign to modes and trends, rethinking every taken option, returning to the origin of every exposition, doing of the beginning, of successive beginning, a creative bastion.

In the year 2006, after a decade of cataloguing and digitalization of the file of the architect, the Foundation Alejandro de la Sota published the first monographic book on one of his works compiling the planes, drawings and photographies that were remaining, materials to a great extent unpublished till then. The choice of the populated Fuencarral B was answering to the desire to show an example of the architectural heritage that might be in risk of demolition, remembering the words of the architect it brings over of

«protecting the heritage not with ordinances but with sensibilities».

The publication included also some fragments of a contemporary conference to the project of the settlement, given in Santiago de Compostela inside the cycle «The architecture and we» and that started by saying that Spain was a country slowed down in architecture. Half a century later, it continued having force.

The legacy of the teachers is a collective heritage. His conservation and spreading is a necessary task in order that it could come to future generations. Though the works are mutilated or eliminate we will still have as inheritance the documents of project, the writings, the drawings, the images … that allow us to keep his educations alive.

On January 28, 2016, a doctoral thesis defended itself with an excellent result in the School of Architecture of the Technical University of Valencia. It was a question of a complete analysis on the criteria and strategies with that Alejandro de la Sota approached the project process of to live, taking the residential offer as a central reference to Alcudia’s bay, in Majorca. The authoress chose a precious title: Projecting for the life, and it began with an appointment of of the Jack gathered by another «peripheral» teacher of the architecture:

«I believe more in the conviviality with whom it knows, that when this one teaches. The instituted education does not seem to me to be so effective. Better when one searches, he finds, coexists with the teacher».

Along the investigation it was searching, finding, Alcudia’s traces in the different projects, discovering and enjoying the learning, and transmitting it towards the future.

The teachers are necessary, not neither as apostles nor goals. They are necessary in the way, in the doubt. About beginning again, the own way to question, to find new ways. Today, like twenty or fifty years ago, they are necessary to continue learning.

Antonio S. Río Vázquez . PhD architect
A Coruña. May 2016

Antonio S. Río Vázquez (A Coruña, 1981) es arquitecto por la E.T.S.A. de A Coruña, master en Urbanismo y doctor por la Universidade da Coruña. Especializado en teoría y diseño, su línea de trabajo se ha centrado en la investigación y divulgación del patrimonio arquitectónico moderno. Ha desarrollado proyectos de modo independiente y ha colaborado con varios estudios de arquitectura. Es socio fundador de Aroe Arquitectura. Es profesor en el Departamento de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, Urbanismo y Composición de la Universidade da Coruña, y ha sido profesor invitado en la Robert Gordon University de Aberdeen (Reino Unido), en la Universidade do Minho (Portugal) y en la Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza (Italia). Es miembro de la red UEDXX Urbanism of European Dictatorships during the XXth Century, del Grupo de Investigación en Historia de la Arquitectura IALA y del Grupo de Innovación Educativa en Historia de la Arquitectura. Ha formado parte del proyecto de investigación FAME Fotografía y Arquitectura Moderna en España, 1925-1965. Los resultados de sus investigaciones, tanto personales como conjuntas, han servido como aportación a eventos de debate y difusión científica y han sido publicados en libros y revistas.

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