Objet trouvé [05] : Sota and the ‘luminous’ building | Rodrigo Almonacid

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SOTA 'diapositiva de luminaria de autopista'  (CONVERSACIONES SOTA_p.41-ilustrac.2.5) | Rodrigo Almonacid
SOTA ‘slide of light of highway’ | Source: Conversación en torno a Alejandro de la Sota (p.41-ilustration.2.5)

The year 1970 is a point of inflexion in Alejandro de la Sota’s architectural path: on one hand, it loses the contest of Chair of Elements of Composition of the ETSAM, after going as teacher fourteen years at the time, and to have turned into doctor five years before; on the other hand, he does not turn out to be a winner of the important contest of projects for Bankunión’s bank offices, probably because his offer was so challenging that the promoter was not trusting that that mute prism of glass would serve to provide with identity to his new headquarters. Be since it will be, the case is that Jack decides to imprison in the labor of his study1, leaving the academic environment forever and refusing to appear publicly scarcely, not at least across the publication of his works in the magazines.

Enclosed so in his study it attacks a certain introspective labor, almost expurgadora or even cathartic, with the alone intention of being liberated of certain architectural habits, as if it wanted to look for the road surface on which to suit his future years as architect. In this way him there arises the opportunity to take part in the contest for AVIACO’s headquarters in 1975, one emblematic building that it must be constructed in full street Highland of Madrid as his sign of corporate identity. The presented offer could not be more radical, and probably for it he found certain rejection between the executives of the airline that would prevent him from gaining the contest.

The architectural idea was brilliant, or rather, “luminous”: a discreet crystalline bucket, of opalescent and subtle appearance for the day, but also a luminous claim and “advertising” support during the night. Jose Manuel López-Peláez2 comments that Don Alejandro was showing a photography of a ramplona to his collaborators in the study light of highway (precisely that of the head-board of this text) to explain to them precisely this magic effect of the crepuscular light, when this one starts igniting slowly as the light of the Sun it is going out … something like one “equilibrador light”. Wonderful ideal visual of poetical effect.

In these difficult years, again Jack extracts forces of sluggishness to try (probably for last time) to construct for AVIACO last “bucket that works”, this ideal figure that Jack was mentioning in relation to a response that Le Corbusier wrote to the mayor of NEW York after his first trip as promise of forefront for chaotic city of the skyscrapers. Pero Sota wanted to come out this mere boîte à miracles corbusierian, adding a humanity and a sensibility that should re-qualify the pure hexahedron.

In the memory of the project the Galician architect speaks about fronts which lines evoke those of the neighborhood of Salamanca in the one that was going to be inserted; it explains the fronts as technological result of an investigation of materials (it was trying to construct the fronts with an unpublished panel sándwich of methacrylate and glass fiber) nothing less than with the help of the scientists of the CSIC; he speaks about the transparent striping (as if they were “ice bars”) incrusted horizontally in the translucent walls to relax the panoramic sight from the working place of every employee; he speaks about the night perception of the luminous announcements on the fronts of the buildings as a demand to resolving for the new architecture (in the fullest sense venturiniano of Learning from Las Vegas). To the end, a space where to feel good on having worked: pure “logical architecture” like he was calling her.

SOTA 'sede AVIACO' perspectiva acuarela nocturna (A.SOTA FUND. ARQUIA_p.425)
SOTA ‘Headquarters AVIACO’ perspective night water-color | Source: Alejandro de la Sota (p.425)

Probably let’s be able interpret this photography of the light of highway as a species of objet trouvé in the project process. Perhaps there is alone one more of these “occurrences” that he was claiming for his projects. It is debatable. But of what does not fit his doubt it is of the talent of someone who limited himself simply to stop his deep look in a daily, almost vulgar object, from which he would find an architectural speech capable of unleashing such a magnificent and coherent project as that one of AVIACO. Today, spent already more than forty years, still they us turn out to be admirable: the teacher and his work.

Rodrigo Almonacid [r-arquitectura] · PhD architect
valladolid. february 2016

Notas:
1 Mariano Bayón managed to name this situation of voluntary imprisonment as “domiciliary arrest”, on the occasion of the interview that was granted to him for the inaugural number of the Arquitecturas Bis magazine in 1974.
2 LÓPEZ-PELÁEZ, José Manuel: “Recuerdo de Sota”, en Conversaciones en torno a Alejandro de la Sota. Madrid: Project department of the ETSAM, 1996.

(Teruel, 1974). Licenciado en Arquitectura (1999) con premio extraordinario y Doctor “cum laude” en Arquitectura por la Universidad de Valladolid (2013), compagina su actividad académica como profesor doctor de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Valladolid con la profesional al frente de su propio estudio [r-arquitectura]. Es autor de dos libros: Mies van der Rohe: el espacio de la ausencia (2006); y El paisaje codificado en la arquitectura de Arne Jacobsen (2016). Colaborador habitual en blogs de actualidad y crítica arquitectónica.

Proyecto edificios singulares y sostenibles en mi estudio [r-arquitectura] desde el año 2000 con la colaboración un equipo multidisciplinar de especialistas de acreditada experiencia profesional. [Especialidad: Sector Terciario].

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