Tomb and Monument | Íñigo García Odiaga

Vietnams Veterans Memorial, Maya Lin

Was saying Adolf Loos, that only there is a small part of the architecture that belongs to the art: the funeral monument and the commemorative monument. Everything else, that one that serves for an end, that one that has a concrete functionality, to live, to work, leisure, had to remain excluded from the kingdom of the art. The vision funcionalista of Loos meets here a limit in the discipline of the architecture. To attend to the functions of the soul, of the memory or of the identity; those functions to which they dedicate the monuments, it is necessary to resort to the art.

But Loos’s affirmation is not exclusive, but inclusive, those projects that they force to remember, they are not only an art, but architecture that rises up to the condition of art.

Scale, construction, materiality, alignments are architectural keys that Philip Johnson did not forget when projected the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial in Dallas. To remember, ensalzar and to honour was the function, architectural the tools.

The president Johnson, who happened to Kennedy, qualified the monument during the inauguration as: “A place of calm refuge, a closed place dedicated to the thought and the contemplation, separated from the city that surrounds it, but near the sky and the land”. And it is precisely this definition better the one that describes this piece, a simple monument, a cenotaph, an opened tomb.

A building of the city which space does not belong to this one, since he constructs an in vitro space that moves away from the metropolitan hustle. The monument is a square room, without ceiling, of 9 meters of high place, for 9 meters of width per 9 meters of length, with two narrow openings that give in the northern part and in the southern part. The walls consist of 72 columns of white prefabricated concrete, the majority of which seem to float without visible support on the land. Eight columns spread up to the soil, acting as supports, which seem to support the monument. Every column ends in a light. In the night, the lighting creates the illusion of which the structure rests on light.

The visitors enter to the room after a short walk up to the small hill the one that places and inside in the center of the stay, a stone of black granite receives them. Too big to be a cartel, too small to be a tomb, too low to be a table and too high to be a bank. Simply it is a monolith that he remembers with letters gilded to the person of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and that invites the visitors to recall his person and his legacy.

A name recorded in stone that remembers another American monument, which contains 58195, remembering the fallen in the war of Vietnam. The piece Lin was constructed by the Mayan arquitecta that she turned out to be a winner of the international contest. The most important part of the monument is a long broken wall accompanied of a slight ramp that sinks towards the center. A piece of abstract architecture, near to the land art, but that takes the individual pulse on having included a space for each of the names. A round, dry and forceful gesture that seems to open a wound, a hard court in the gardens of the capital, a wound similar whom the war opened in the country.

En un país con una historia tan corta como EEUU, el centro de la ciudad de Washington, lugar de las grandes representaciones del país, actúa como baúl, como disco duro de la memoria colectiva. Monumentos llenos de mensajes e historia, se agolpan en este espacio para intentar además de honrar la memoria de muchos, ser un motor para reforzar la identidad y el orgullo de pertenencia. Son arquitecturas que intentan construir un relato colectivo. Función, si se quiere alejadas de la vida cotidiana, pero no por ello menos importante. Sólo hay que pensar en la importancia que tiene recordar.

íñigo garcía odiaga . architect

san sebastián. february 2013

Íñigo García Odiaga

Arquitecto. Editor de NOMU. 1/5 del estudio de arquitectura VAUMM. Vivo en Donosti.

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