Symbology of the power | Miquel Lacasta Codorniu

The image of the post comes from of the web of the own Christo | Photography: Wolfgang Volz.

Daoíz and Velarde are the names of the two lions that flanquean the main façade of the congress of the deputies in Madrid. The image majestuosa of both fieras melted in bronze in the Real factory of artillery of Seville, has turned into one of the most photographed icons of the capital.

The history of Benavides and Malospelos, that is like the Madrilenian nickname fondly to one of the most visible symbols of the democracy, traces back to an old controversy arisen the same year in that the building, projected by Narciso Pascual and Colomer, was inaugurated in 1850. The emplazamiento of the lions was allocated initially to two big, and when seeming something patosas farolas, that raised in his moment airadas critical of the gentlemen deputies and the population in general.

In front of the magnitude of the reaction, commissioned to Poncio Ponzano, author to his time of the frontispiece of the congress of deputies, that esculpiera with the cannons confiscated in the war of Morocco of 1860 a couple of fieros guardians of the palace of the village. It gives  the case before opting by the bronze and in front of the terrible economic situation of the country, that  esculpieron two lions in plaster, with a patina of bronze, in front of the impossibility to realise the sculptures in marble or another nobler material. Even this poor version of the lions arrive to be installed in the current place, but the climatic conditions did that the pieces began to degrade  very quickly.

In front of the high sum pretended by Ponzano, commissioned  again the fieras to the sculptor José Bellver, two feline of scale much more reduced, this time in stone. The chirigota popular and the disproportion of the figures, said that they seemed two dogs rabiosos, more than two lions, created a strong rejection from the same moment in that they installed  in his emplazamiento and quickly were sold. Finally, and going out with his, went back  to Ponzano for, this time yes, take advantage of the incautación of two cannons of the war with Morocco and melt the pieces.

Apart from the history rocambolesca from the sculptural, nearest pieces to the sauce that to the guessed right planning of the symbols of a country, which is the nature of the reason for which giants of the considered one stand firm two representation, the most fierce and majestic animal of the nature, just person in front of the courts, later congress of the deputies?

There is no another possible response that her of symbolizing a power, that is to say, the whole significant load to lead in certain signs of the architectural and sculptural language of what the democracy is, or it should be. In fact, more than a symbol or several symbols, one might speak about a system of symbols what gives to the buildings that hoard the popular sovereignty a dimension extra.

To begin, in case of the deputies’ congress, the lions symbolize the greatness, it does not exempt of aggressiveness, of the space that they are guarding, I joust to his backs. His presence dignifies and indicates clearly that the building that contains the essences of the democracy must be preserved of any external assault. It is for it, that like safety police officer, the lions competed in the principal entry, immediately codify a message thrown to the population. That one that tries to knock down the props of the popular sovereignty will be a pasture of the lions.

We know that the flags, the shields, the majesty of certain representative buildings, etc., they are symbolic messages that safeguard the ritual of the democratic thing. The fascism also has the learned well lesson. We know igualemnte that the new buildings arisen with the autonomous process in Spain, parliamentary headquarters in the main, they have been located in former religious buildings, military barracks in disuse, mansions and enclosedly conservatoires. That is to say, in a great majority, buildings where the stones contribute a statement on having developed of the democracy.

It is interesting as in many buildings of new plant, of the tens and tens that have been realized in the country from the restoration of the democracy, specially town halls again mold, the balcony is kept, that is to say, the place where former the representatives of the villas and cities were giving his speeches to the population. And nevertheless, it is evident that today nobody uses this architectural platform to go to the citizens. Another symbol.

One of the most awkward situations is undoubtedly when it is necessary to to realize a new parliament or when it is decided to move a responsible building of the democracy to and from. Reichstag‘s case, the German parliament, is trufado of decisions that go beyond the functional opportunity, the criteria of design to realize a concrete labor or energetic or technical equally necessary considerations.

After multiple initial vicissitudes the parliamentary building of the German people, designed by the architect Paul Wallot, was inaugurated in 1894. Between other symbolic pearls, it was bothering the Kaiser Guillermo II sovereignly that the dome designed by Wallot had 75 meters, 8 meters higher than the Royal palace of Berlin, with 67 meters.

In contemporary terms, the decision to re-restore the Reichstag in Berlin after years with headquarters in Bonn, due to the partition of Germany in two blocks after the second world war, already indicates the deep symbolic load of the emplacement. Berlin, the divided city, had to be the headquarters, so much for historical tradition, since for the aptitude to codify a strong symbolic message, of the reunification of an entire country. Equally, it was a motive of many comings and goings today famous dome of crystal of the building. Raised as a purely symbolic element, in reference to the dome of the Wallot, Sir Norman Foster objected roundly until it yielded. Certainly an Englishman realizing the German parliament, it comes to be another symbol of the German will of auto-excusing his past.

Of all forms, the act probably more unusual and deeply symbolic that it happened in the Reichstag was the performance of the Bulgarian artist Christo, who for 2 weeks, between ends of June and beginning of July, 1995, wrapped literally the building with fireproof fabric and ropes, recalling this way the fire provoked by the Nazi the night from February 27 to February 28, 1933. Over any forecast, the forceful artistic action attracted more than 5 million visitors and I stop in the arks of the city near 1.000 million frames. Suddenly, a building without too many appraisal on the part of the German people and with a history full of difficulties, was turning into the symbol of the reunification. A species of stiff building, which like gift, was offered to the people.

From there, the process of remodeling and the popular success and certainly symbolic, it was incontestable. From his inauguration in 1999, already be to rise to the famous dome of crystal or to accede to the parliamentary meetings as public, the German parliament has received more than 20 million visits.

In short, a building that shelters the agreement of the common thing, since we might call to the democracy, already is in the form of a parliament, of a town hall, a chapter, or any other cosification of the democracy in stone, it must assemble and be able to transmit elements that transcienden his own democratic function.

They are buildings that symbolize an agreement between equal.

Miquel Lacasta. Doctor architect
Barcelona, juny 2013

Es cofundador en ARCHIKUBIK y también en @kubik – espacio multidisciplinario. Obtuvo un Ph.D. con honores (cum laude) en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya UIC y también fue galardonado con el premio especial Ph.D (UIC 2012), M.arch en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, y se graduó como arquitecto en ETSAB Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya . Miquel es profesor asociado en ESARQ desde 1996. Anteriormente, fue profesor en Elisava y Escola LAI, y también en programas de postgrado en ETSAB y La Salle. Fue arquitecto en la oficina de Manuel Brullet desde 1989 desde 1995.


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