Paradoxes of a great prize | Martin Marcos

The Great Architecture Award 2012 granted by FADEA (Federation Argentina of Architects’ Entities) and ARQ (prestigious supplement of architecture of the diary Bugle) has been for the Puerto Roldán House, of the Arqs. Gerardo Caballero y Maite Fernandez. Selection that I imply a tour all over the country looking for the most significant works of last five years in each of our regions. A great effort that it must be emphasized like very positively.

Far from questioning the professional quality of the study Caballero-Fernandez, out-standing architects rosarinos to whom I admire and respect – maybe time more for other works than for this prize-; yes it seems to be necessary to indicate some questions paradojales about this choice and that maybe allow us to think over and to face urgent challenges.

Puerto Roldán House, by Gerardo Caballero and Maite Fernández

Though categories, prizes and mentions exist, a Great Prize is a symbol, one ” primus inter give birth “, a message – synthesis of the Argentine architecture to the rest of the company on the condition of the art in our field. An opportunity to indicate our aspirations and what we understand correctly and prominently as discipline.

To exhibit and to announce this Great Prize in the FADU UBA, place where there are formed thousands of students of architecture, it is in addition a message to them. A paradigm to continuing for our young persons.

It is here where my major perplexity arises: That the model to standing out for on the rest of the winning ones is the one-family house inside a neighborhood closed in the suburbs of the city it looks like the best of the recommendations neither for those who are formed, nor for the company in general. Because mas there of highlighting the metaphorical thing and the politically correct thing that means today the formal and constructive austerity (in this case, for moments almost a deceit); we know that this typology is carried by a territorial irrational model and that the widespread city of low density provokes an environmental and social negative impact. Today the enormous majority of the academic world and international scientist shares that the compactness in the urban area is the correct thing, since it expresses the idea of proximity of the components that shape the city. The compactness, therefore, is one of the factors that facilitate the meeting, the communication and the exchange that they are, since it is known, the essence of the life in community, promoting this way the probability of contacts and with it the relations between the protagonists of the urban system. They are his antithesis: The distances, the dispersion and segregation of the widespread and diffuse urbanism. For it the one-family house exempts-mal that us in spite of the architects – has developed into the type of the least efficient housing environmentally, which more energy, land and water consumes. In addition, his dependence of the car involves high expenses in fossil fuels and CO2 emissions that aggravate the global warming. Finally and in our particular case, this use of the soil turns out to be a real squandering of the richest and productive territory of the planet in moments in that the food obtaining is vital for the humanity. Should not it a Great Prize of Architecture realize of these questions? There are not these any of the urgent challenges in the formation of our thousands of students of architecture?

It is showy besides the fact that this house is a part of a neighborhood deprived in Rosario’s suburbs, since Rosary has been the first city of the country in debating publicly and prohibiting new urbanizations closed in his periphery. To favour the social and strategic value of the soil for on the speculation and the fragmentation are foundations of this Law sanctioned at the beginning of 2011.

Puerto Roldán House, by Gerardo Caballero and Maite Fernández

Also it is paradoxical that in a country growing – according to official information – to rates near to 9 % per year that the Great National Prize ARQ is for a small housing in the suburbs of a city. Do not be misinterpreted, it is reasonable that in the category “you” “marry” gains a house, and the House Port Roldán is a correct house – though to orientate the bedrooms in the western part does not look like the most efficient thing for the torrid summers santafecinos (there will have perceived the Juror this “detail”?)-; but to the being the work to emphasizing inside the whole national output of last five years, that in addition it will represent the Argentina in the near Biennial show of Venice, puts in evidence symptoms of something that is necessary to approach.

Puerto Roldán House, by Gerardo Caballero and Maite Fernández

It is necessary to ask: where they are and those who produce the big equipments public and deprived of a country with similar levels of expansion? Do they exist? Where are they? Because someone of the miles does not reward then of housings of social interest, the hundreds of schools and hospitals, the museums, the libraries, the public space, the parks, the factories, hotels, laboratories and the centers of innovation? Does his architectural and constructive quality resist a serious analysis? The work publishes Argentine is “demonstrable”? More than one thing does not close and I believe that to this height we all realize the crossroads that we have ahead and the risk of encrypting ourselves in confraternities and ” discussions for understood “. Because of it an agenda and an institutional positioning of the Argentine architecture should neither obviate these questions nor ignore them, it is necessary to put them on the table because they are decisive for our future as professional group. Will not it be a time to check the models of relation with the public and private sector, given that the traditional contests of architecture do not seem to be already the only suitable tool? Will we be able to bring together continuity and innovation in our culture and practice to discipline?

Puerto Roldán House, by Gerardo Caballero and Maite Fernández

I do not believe in the chances but, for example, the last Great Prize of the Spanish Architecture has been for a very interesting urban building of 131 protected housings – of social interest – in Mieres, Asturias. Should not we change, among other things, our traditions and do that the first category of our prizes of architecture is for the public institutions, or favour the innovation in the collective housing, his energy efficiency and his aptitude to do better city? Will we be able to overcome our almost exclusive preference to the houses as objects of worship and desire? It would be a clear and forceful message to the rest of the company, but also towards the interior of our discipline, since it would imply beginning to check old models of practice and architectural production who today turn out to be increasingly narrow and less strategic.

From the classic Greece the paradoxes and the crossroads have served to make ourselves to think, think, debate and change. Ojalá let’s be able take charge urgently, with intelligence and serenity, of the enormous challenges that appear him to the Argentine architecture.

Martin Marcos . architect.  teacher of FADU UBA
buenos aires. october, 2012

Martín Marcos

Docente de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanis­mo (UBA) y director del Museo de Arquitectura y Diseño de la Socie­dad Central de Arquitectos en Buenos Aires hasta 2018. Actualmente lleva la dirección del Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo – MNAD, en el Palacio Errázuriz-Alvear. 

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