Neoplasticity | Antonio S. Río Vázquez

Ray Eames with the model of his house | Photography: Peter Stackpole |

In the year 2008, Lego presented the Sears Towers of Chicago inside his line «Architecture», the first work of a series that would develop in the following years with the Guggenheim Museum of New York, Sídney’s opera or tthree paradigmatic modernity housings: the Fallingwater House of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Farnsworth House of Mies van de Rohe and the Villa Saboya of Le Corbusier.

The series divided in two categories: “Architects” and “Milestones”, the first one including architectures distinguished from the modernity and second monuments, independently of his antiquity. In both cases, the builder might elaborate a reply to scale of the original work, using for it the traditional pieces of the company.

Nevertheless, the origin of the series goes back to fifty years ago, when Godtfred Kirk Christiansen —the director at the time of the company— decided to look for new forms of expansion of Lego system. The decade of the fifties had supposed the definitive jump towards the use of the plastic opposite to the wood with which they had begun and the concretion of the system of assembly by means of the acquaintances bricks, which patent remains registered in 1958. The great popular acceptance that had the system and his infinite possibilities with minimal elements were turning it into a world for exploring and to construct.

In The United States, at the same time, the program was developing of the Case Study Houses, principally concerning the city of Los Angeles. Promoted by John Entenza from the Arts & Architecture  magazine, it was carried out between 1945 and 1966, implying an important number of architects between those that  Richard Neutra, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig or Charles y Ray Eames.

From his beginning, the program was looking for a new plastic arts for the American housing. Every architect had to assume the responsibility of designing a house of low cost that was adjusting to the regulation of in force construction, which was capable of repeating itself with minimal variations in other places and that was not turning into an individual “performance”.

On the basis of these rules of game, thirty six prototypes were projected, though not they all managed to make real. The architects used materials donated by the industry and combined them in an experimental way, giving place to a rich and wide variety of housings. In someone of them the authors were also his inhabitants, since it happened in Eames House.

In 1962 Lego threw to the market three boxes so-called «Scale Models». Using the same bricks that were triumphing on the market, they were offering the possibility of designing a modern house. Close to the existing elements flat pieces joined (which height was a third of the brick) that more detailed models were allowing to elaborate.

The box was including an escalímetro and a reticle bases, bringing the game near furthermore to the work of the royal designer. The images that were appearing as inspiration might belong perfectly to the program Case Study Houses that was developing parallel, even in his chromatism, which was diminishing to white, black, gray, red and blue pieces, besides the transparent ones. From there, the result was remaining opened the desires of the author. The book of instructions still would be late in coming.

antonio s. río vázquez . architect

a coruña. february 2013

Antonio S. Río Vázquez

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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