Equipped housings? | Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929
Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLC/ADAGP


One of the most persistent obstacles in companies like ours is the subordination to the points of view of the central countries with regard to what it must be done. It is the old history of the peripheries that so well he analyzed in his moment, giving him a draft of a lot of interest Jose Ortega y Gasset in his Velázquez. Because the thesis of Imperial sand grouse, which I have mentioned often, is that the peripheries can re-throw also, improved, the legacies come from the center. But it happens rarely and for it the “peripheral” company has to, to say it in colloquial terms “to have with what”. The common case is to imitate what comes of there because it are considered to be the correct thing, the already proven thing, which indicates the courses. In architecture this attitude is the most common, appears as a load sometimes impossible to overcome. The diffusion, the debate, the sheen, the admiring consensus, typical features of the architecture of success, find his house in the center and it is a food for whom we live out of him.

It is a topic of the major importance that in some cases turns out to be completely evident as for example in case of the housing for the majorities. It does already almost one century there became evident, to the heat of the social and political fights, the gravity of this problem, of a way that marked the debate on the architecture and the city. For the new architecture it was an essential topic and it was not possible to get away from him. Here in the peripheral edges there was received this anxious and dynamic wave and in the middle of the century twenty it produced contributions of interest in several of our countries. There was a way to crossing that it was opened by all clarity here, as already it was crossed in the whole Europe. But if in these countries it came near to results, in a few decades, here the things got entangled in our political contradictions. There a stage was burned, here scarcely it was begun. And as there the life it flows and raises new options and the most important thing produced to itself more and more wealth, the priorities were modified. Already one did not speak about housing in the same terms. But our imitative trend was still strong, since it is own of the provincial thing, of the immature thing, of what it fights to be identified. The new priorities were adopted here of there and, in consequence, for example the search and the exploration on the housing stopped having importance, having it nevertheless in the enormous lacks that besiege us and especially in the desigualdades and stridencies of our urban context.

And it becomes necessary at the time to take again certain roots, certain worries in spite of the passed time., exactly, to treat of relanzarlas to tone with realities that we are not not with much overcome. Because of it it has felt to go towards certain origins, to restate or to remember matters of the discipline that by no means have been exhausted. And it is about the political infamies, the manipulation that for example in my country we come suffering per decades, when one believes necessarily to remember that there were useful manners, you index, that they are there to be studied. And it helps to put on the table contributions that if already they do not say to him too much to an Europe rather ensimismada, to us us can be of usefulness.

Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP
Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP

The government announces that it will deliver equipped the housings that it has offered. It is a matter that is worth a sorrow analyzing carefully. Because the idea has positive aspects and it might turn into a modality of social subsidy that would be simultaneously a vehicle of other interesting things. Because the beginning of helping which less have to equip the housing is a matter of a lot of importance. Let’s say to begin some things: a kitchen of the very elegant ones that come done in Italy can cost the third part of the cost of a “housing of social interest”. To do the closets and cupboards to them to a housing of approximately 300 m2 as those who exist in costly zones of Caracas, it costs to current prices the half of the cost of an apartment of 60 m2 in Montalbán or in Bello Monte. It it knows anyone that is forming a home: to equip the housing is a very costly matter, of long term. That we could have had own house we have still points of light without lamps, a bed inherited from the family and any table and his chairs received of an aunt. The initial costs were high and the house itself was consuming all our capacity of saving.

This topic of the equipment occupied very much the discussion in the means of the architecture of forefront of the first decades of the century twenty. The admirable experiences of minimal housing of the Germany of the Social democracy, they were associated also with the search and the investigation brings over of a furniture conceived according to the new dimensional standards that already were making absurd the movement of the cupboard inherited from the grandparents to a housing where the reticle of design was 80 x 80 cm and in which to spend voluminous furniture for the corridors was becoming impossible. And what was the Bauhaus, born in 1919 with the social democracy, but a paradigmatic effort to create adapted designs, not only to a relation with the most updated industry, but between many other things a desire to do of a more practical furniture the object of an industrial massive production?

Thinking about the Housing.

In the sixties in our Faculty of Architecture the massive “minimal” housing, it was occupying very much space of reflection. Also it was a topic the emergency housing. And always he was appearing as a matter to discussing the question of the furniture. Because to reduce the dimensions of the inhabitable space demands a type of not voluminous, frivolous furniture. There was appearing often the “fixed”, fixed furniture, but simultaneously his lack of flexibility was objected. Also the transformable one, more difficult to adapt to the popular uses. A key example of this approach, which we were suggesting to the students, they were the houses “Loucheur” by Le Corbusier, of 1929, where a fixed transformable furniture was allowing that the social spaces should transform in bedroom. It was the product of a law of stimulus thrown by the Secretary Louis Loucheur, who stimulated many people to propose ideas, between which the great Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) whose design was constructed in Meudon, not very far from Paris. And there it is still.

Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP
Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP

What is interested in standing out is that the topic is important. To it there owes in the much more recent years the commercial success of a Swedish signature as IKEA, which produces furniture of massive consumption, from born designs of the modern searches (as those of Alvar Aalto in laminated wood) but with own approaches. They are furniture to arm, frivolous and manageable, economic. Our local Bima (that I understand is of the Colombian capital) it is a version of this commercial scheme. In Central Park, in the margen Sur de la Ave. Bolivar, thirty years ago, the apartments were submitting with closets and furniture of kitchen, and the experience was successful.

The topic gives for much, and can be assumed by the idea of stimulating managerial private initiatives that promote our design. Something of it there is in the recent initiative of the company Chilean – European Masisa, that there works in Monagas, on “innovative and sustainable” furniture, stimulant and positive promotion.

Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP
Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP

Red epilogue.

The one that is an old woman’s matter dates back serves to stress that our public institutions of the democracy previous to the Regime, they lacked imagination and especially vision of his paper promoter of not conventional initiatives. The obsession to copy models of the central countries and particularly the Americans it prevented to the political Venezuelan estate from doing of specific our point of item for own experiences. This blindness will have to change when we renew to the country.

But it happens that to the heat of the demagoguery the good ideas always are prostituted. It of the equipped housing that it announced the Commander is a simple import of appliances of “white line” (iceboxes, washers, kitchens), done in the inevitable China that will do business protected in his socialist apparel. To compensate, hurriedly to cause impact, one speaks of constructing a factory going again towards the capitalism of State … and China, without importing either the failures or the abysmal differences between that country of Red Army and ferreous hand and this one, of red – small red of flannel and hand ready to receive. You go to the Tuy and see near Ocumare the incomplete structures of the factory of Iranian cars: it is a sample of what will happen.

Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP
Maisons Loucheur, Le Corbusier, 1929 © FLCADAGP

The essential virtue of the “revolution” steadies itself: to buy and to buy, in dollars, leaving sufficient space for commissions and surcharges. And to offer what they will not fulfill. It happens to nobody inside this species of jungle of crossed interests into which the “Mission has turned Housing”, that the access to the furniture could be the way to promote the design and to consolidate an industry of the furniture that does not limit itself to copying what comes of out. It is too revolutionary.

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz, Architect.
Venezuela, may 2011,
Entre lo Cierto y lo Verdadero

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Es un arquitecto venezolano, nacido en 1939, Premio Nacional de Arquitectura de su país en 2002-2003, profesor de Diseño Arquitectónico por más de treinta años en la Universidad Central de Venezuela, quien paralelamente con su ejercicio ha mantenido ya por años presencia en la prensa de su país en un esfuerzo de comunicación hacia la gente en general de los puntos de vista del arquitecto acerca de los más diversos temas, entre los cuales figuran los agudos problemas políticos de una sociedad como la venezolana. Tenreiro practica así lo que el llama el “pensamiento desde y hacia la arquitectura”, insistiendo en que lo hace como arquitecto en ejercicio, para escapar de los estereotipos y cautelas propios de la “crítica arquitectónica”. Respecto a la cual no oculta su desconfianza, que explica recurriendo al aforismo de Nietzsche sobre el crítico de arte “que ve el arte desde cerca sin llegar a tocarlo nunca”.

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