Posts tagged with "Spain":

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Westworld’s production designer drew from global architecture to realize 2058

Dr. Robert Ford, Anthony Hopkins’ character in the HBO television series Westworld, offered this insight to a child looking over his shoulder after rendering a snake inanimate with a gentle wave of his finger: “Everything in this world is magic, except to the magician.” The show, now in its third season, revolves around a highly advanced Western-style theme park built in the near future and the humanoid robots that come to escape its perimeter to discover the real world beyond it. The impossibly lustrous, moody, pristine built environments of that world are the stuff of magic to the millions of viewers watching at home, while the hundreds of people responsible for that aesthetic—including visual effects supervisors, costume designers, cinematographers, and set decorators—perform as their magicians. For the last two seasons, Howard Cummings has been the show’s production designer, matching the complex narrative with arresting visual storytelling. AN spoke with Cummings to learn how his team selected the buildings and fabricated those that do not yet exist to create the spellbinding background of the series. AN: The show mostly takes place in Los Angeles in the year 2058. How did you determine the look and feel of the city nearly four decades from now?  Howard Cummings: We made sure to essentially do the opposite of the original Blade Runner (1982), which depicted the Los Angeles of the future as dystopian and dilapidated. Jonah Nolan, the co-creator of Westworld, wanted the city to look more advanced than it is now, as though climate change had been eliminated through carbon-catching towers, which are sometimes visible throughout the show. Public plazas are elevated, transportation is mostly below ground, and the use of personal cars is drastically reduced. But we were also able to take advantage of the recent building boom in the city, offering glimpses of newly completed buildings, such as the [Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed] Broad Museum.  Aerial views of downtown Los Angeles also depicts fictional buildings next to currently existing skyscrapers. How was the design for those fictional buildings determined? The downtown skyline is infilled with CGI buildings that were inspired by the city of Singapore. its vertical greenery provided the look we were going for, which is partially mandated by the government. We would shut down sections of L.A. roadways to bring in planters, seating, and different types of green surfaces to make the city look a lot more green than it really is. We assembled a kit of roadway disguises that appear to accelerate the city’s current initiatives to become greener and more pedestrian-friendly. You may notice we also ‘completed’ the L.A. River project in some flyover shots, turning it into a fully functional river. I heard that the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels was an informal consultant for the latest season. How did he become involved, and what input was he able to provide? Bjarke sent a message expressing interest in the show before we shot the latest season. Because I was already familiar with his work, I wanted to invite him to visit before we shot the third season and he stayed for several hours to see how we film and design our sets. I then had him meet Jonah Nolan, and I learned that they were oddly alike in personality, so much so they even ended up going on sight-seeing trips together When it came to designing futuristic buildings for the third season, Bjarke offered to help by giving us the digital models of a bunch of projects of his own firm that were never realized. If you look at some of the aerial shots, his buildings can be seen sprinkled throughout.  How does real-world architecture factor into the show, and how did you decide which real-world buildings to include? The first two seasons were almost entirely set within fictional settings. Viewers could generally only see the Westworld landscape [mostly filmed at Melody Movie Ranch, a Western-style film studio in Santa Clarita, California] and the all-glass, “behind-the-scenes” production spaces that were built for the show. When the Westworld characters venture out of the theme park in season two, we felt it was a good opportunity to showcase significant buildings around the world.  We were able to use Frank Lloyd Wright’s Millard House in Pasadena in the second season because the house was currently on the market during filming, and we had been looking for Wrightian houses at the time. This season, we wanted to go back to the house, but we weren’t allowed back because it had just been sold. Shooting in the actual house was quite difficult anyway because it’s small and highly protected, so at some point, it became more reasonable to rebuild it as a set.  For the third season, we also scouted locations in and around BarcelonaWhile there, we chose Santiago Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain as the headquarters for the Delos Corporation because it felt like a good setting for a tech campus.  Bjarke happened to be in the city when we were there, and Ricardo Bofill’s home, La Fábrica, was considered as a filming location. The building was originally cement silos fabricated using poured concrete. Bofill added some touches that included gothic-style archways; his work of the 1970s was so postmodern, and to me it was a weirdly timeless design that for me was the opposite of the Westworld labs which are all black and glass. Bjarke connected us with Carlos Bofill, Ricardo Bofill’s son, who allowed us to tour inside the home. Jonah fell in love with it, and we eventually got permission to use it as a laboratory. Though there were a lot of restrictions, we got to film using several of the actual living quarters. But because we only had one day to film in there, we also had to build some interiors that were designed with Bofill’s original design in mind.  It seems that the buildings of the future are depicted as either rough-hewn concrete or from a white, plastic-like material. Exactly. We felt that concrete provides a real atmosphere and texture to modern buildings. It can be formed into anything; it’s got incredible fluidity while still being foreboding. We’re trying to incorporate the concept of 3D printing into the show, as well as buildings that could be imagined as [being] 3D printed. Each episode takes about two weeks to produce, and with an average of 35 locations per episode, there were limitations regarding the use of 3D printing and scouting for concrete buildings. Fortunately, we were able to find plenty of areas in Los Angeles, Singapore, and Spain to match this aesthetic. In the first episode of season three, for example, you see a concrete house that was supposed to be off the coast of China. That house is designed by Wallace E. Cunningham in Encinitas [near San Diego]. We were initially hoping to use the Salk Institute in La Jolla but ended up falling in love with this house with a texture that almost blends into the rocks beneath it.
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Jorge Penadés constructs a colorful matrix for shoewear brand Camper

Since debuting his upcycled leather composite Structural Skin furniture line in 2013, Spanish designer Jorge Penadés has made waves on the international design scene. Whether creating a chair by strapping in sheets of glass together or curating the speculative Extraperlo exhibit during each annual Madrid Design Week, the up-and-comer always finds smart ways to interpret complex concepts. His approach is both structurally inventive and deeply referential, especially when it comes to the physical and semiotic translation of industrial materials. Experimental talents don’t always manage to anchor their postulations with visual impact. Penadés' intuitive understanding of color, form, and texture ensures that even his most convoluted projects can gain the attention of a broad audience. For his first-ever interiors project, Penadés was commissioned by Spanish shoewear brand Camper to outfit their latest outpost in Málaga. The designer was given carte blanche and opted for a simple yet impactful concept that evokes a warehouse but also a number of children’s construction toys. He referenced the brand’s recently refurbished depot that contains an archive of novel items, such as design pieces by greats like Michele De Lucchi, Gaetano Pesce, Ingo Maurer, the Bouroullec brothers, and Konstantin Grcic. Read the full breakdown on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Space Popular vaults brick and wraps a thin steel grid around a modular house in Spain

In Santa Barbara, Valencia (the original, Eastern Spanish municipality, not the Western U.S. incarnation), a green grid can found rising out of the landscape. Embedded into the same stone as the nearby 758-year-old Valencia Cathedral, the grid is, in fact, a house designed by London-based studio Space Popular with local architects Estudio Alberto Burgos and Javier Cortina Maruenda. “We've never built anything in concrete, I doubt we ever will,” Space Popular cofounder Fredrik Hellberg told AN Interior. “We try and avoid it, to be honest.” It’s a statement that only ten years ago, back when Hellberg and his wife and fellow co-founder Lara Lesmes were studying at the Architectural Association, would’ve garnered odd looks from their peers. Now, however, the conversation around the most destructive material on earth has changed. So instead of building with concrete, Hellberg and Lesmes have opted for steel and brick. This marriage of the two materials, though, is not as you’d expect. Rather than employing a brick facade to mask a steel frame, almost the opposite is at play here. While steel still serves as a structural frame, it is by no means hidden. Painted green and proudly on display in the form of a grid, composed of 12-feet wide cubes, the steel is a mere four inches thick and feels incredibly delicate. The tectonic distich is completed with loadbearing Guastavino vaults that span various parts of the full structure in half and quarter-width iterations. It’s a language that is spoken throughout the house—both internally and externally, with flourishes like a brick-vaulted staircase and green trident railings dotted in every corner. “We wanted to eliminate all thresholds between the inside and outside,” Lesmes said. This objective was achieved through a semi-internal courtyard, sliding doors, and by having the gridded structure cover the entire plot, besides the pool area. The house is currently up for rent but the developer has plans to sell it in the long run. “To have a grid superstructure creates a sense of possibility—you can add a lot of awnings etc.,” Lesmes added. “Hopefully [the eventual owners] will cover the structure with plants, netting, a hammock, or fabrics to delineate shaded areas, that will create a sense of boundary.” Read the full project profile on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Barozzi Veiga to design campus for mainstay Miami nonprofit Oolite Arts

Miami nonprofit Oolite Arts has hired Spanish firm Barozzi Veiga to design its new headquarters. The 36-year-old group, formerly known as ArtCenter/South Florida, purchased a warehouse property in the city’s Little Haiti-Little River neighborhood, according to the Miami Herald, and plans to build a $30 million center boasting artists’ studios, a theater, a maker space, and classrooms for professionals and the public.  “Miami’s visual arts community has grown exponentially over the past decade, and Oolite Arts has transformed its programming to help Miami-based artists grow,” said Dennis School, president and CEO of Oolite Arts, in a press release. “Our new home will enable us to better meet the needs of both visual artists and the community.”  As the Miami Herald notes, Oolite Arts and its old headquarters on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road Mall once helped revive a once-forgotten strip of land into a thriving commercial and cultural corridor. The nonprofit’s upcoming new space will be located at 75 NW 72nd St. runs along the Florida East Coast Railway and is slated to open in 2022. At 35,000-square-feet, the campus is expected to also bolster the largely industrial area and its surrounding community, a neighborhood that’s been growing with incoming art galleries and arts-related organizations looking for cheaper rent. News of Barozzi Veiga’s selection comes just months after the Barcelona-based studio was announced as the new campus master plan architects for the Art Institute of Chicago, an institution also located over a rail line. The firm’s most recently-completed structure, a museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, additionally dealt with train tracks.  Established in 2004 by Fabrizio Barozzi and Alberto Veiga, the international practice has won numerous awards for its cultural work including the Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture for its design of Poland’s Szczecin Philharmonic Hall in 2015. The duo has designed countless projects around the world and a few smaller commissions in the United States, but Oolite Arts will be Barozzi Veiga’s first building in the country.  Miami-based firm Charles Benson will serve as the architect of record on the arts center, and visuals will be released later this year. 

Current Work: RCR Arquitectes

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.
Spanish architects Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta founded RCR Arquitectes in 1988 in their hometown of Olot, Girona. The firm’s projects are rooted in a strong sense of place and community, as reflected in their choice of materials, geometries, and sites. For her Current Work lecture, Pigem will discuss recent projects in Europe, including:
  • Soulages Museum, a museum in Rodez, France, dedicated to French abstract artist Pierre Soulages and consisting of five interconnected Corten steel boxes.
  • Crematorium of Hofheide, an iron-colored concrete structure that relates to the surrounding landscape of Holsbeek, Belgium. Project in collaboration with Ghent-based Coussée & Goris Architecten.
  • El Petit Comte Kindergarten, a municipal school in Olot, Spain, marked by vertical tubes of different diameters and colors which filter natural light.
Carme Pigem completed her studies in architecture at the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès (ETSAV) in Barcelona alongside Rafael Aranda and Ramon Vilalta. RCR Arquitectes is the recipient of the 2017 Pritzker Architecture Prize. In 2013 the practice established RCR BUNKA Foundation to disseminate architecture, landscape, arts, and culture to broader sections of society. The lecture will be followed by a conversation with Nader Tehrani, principal of NADAAA and dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.
Free for members, $15 for non-members. Member reservations are now open. Non-member ticket sales open October 1.
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Foster + Partners wins competition to update the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

Foster + Partners has been selected to design the future expansion and remodeling of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in northern Spain. The team entered into an international competition in collaboration with local studio LM Urirate Arkitektura S.L.P under a pseudonym, and the winning proposal beat our six other design teams due to its respect for the existing architecture on-site. The 105-year-old institution has undergone two major renovations since first opening in the center of the city—it’s situated between an urban park and major plaza and surrounded by both aging buildings and new construction. Foster + Partners teamed up with Luis María Uriarte, who worked on the 2001 expansion, under the collective name of “Agravitas.” Their vision to update the historic space will re-orient it towards the city, and add over 21,500-square-feet of new galleries within an open and flexible floor plan.  According to Norman Foster, the heart of the project will be making the original 1945 building the central focus of the museum. They aim to freshen up its plaza-facing facade and enhance the structure’s permeability by building a new sun-lit lobby between the thin, brick building and the 1970s addition in the rear.  “Our design will restore the existing mid-twentieth century building and setting to its original glory,” said Norman Foster in a statement, “[and] create a new publicly accessible atrium space and add major new galleries for contemporary art in a floating pavilion.”  In true Foster + Partner’s style, this stacked piece of architecture will appear lightweight and fluid, with terraces on its western edge. On the outside of the museum towards the park, the slender addition will create a large overhang where visitors can gather underneath in the shade. In the atrium, which will be built over the exterior Plaza Arriaga, a massive skylight will stream natural light from the roof of the pavilion. The circular window will cut through each level to maximize views of the art below.  “Technological in its image, humanistic in its approach and ecological in its sustainability, the proposal combines architectural quality, urban sensitivity, and social responsibility to raise a luminous landmark in the historic heart of Bilbao,” the jury said in an official statement. This isn’t the first project Foster + Partners have done for the city of Bilbao. In 1995, the firm completed the Metro Bilbao Station, an understated but ultimately iconic glass canopy that leads commuters to an expansive underground.  No estimated date of completion for the project has been given yet.
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Photo show of Spain's modern ruins offer lessons for another economic crisis

Spain’s explosive building industry was hit hard by the economic crisis of 2008, resulting in an incredible number of unfinished and abandoned construction projects. Photographs documenting these “modern ruins” hang over the center of Unfinished, a new installation at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. Though it details derelict buildings, the exhibition isn’t all financial doom and architectural gloom. The main body of the show highlights 55 extraordinary projects from the last few years that explore new strategies for adapting these neglected structures and building with limited resources. For the designers of these projects, who have learned hard lessons, architecture is something that remains unfinished. Their buildings are designed to evolve and adapt to future uses. They embrace the visible passing of time, rather than building over it. Cleverly adapted from the multi-room Spanish pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, the installation has a spare design and straightforward construction that reflects the resourcefulness of the projects on display. Although the content focuses on Spanish structures, the issues explored in Unfinished are as universal as the installation. As politicians and businesses around the world inevitably repeat the same mistakes that lead to the last crisis, architects will have to more seriously consider how they build and what they build. Ultimately, Unfinished demonstrates the resilience of the discipline. It is, as the curators write, "a validation of innovative and engaged practices that have parsed through the wreckage to find a voice.” Unfinished will be on view until February 8, 2019.
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The staircase is just the beginning in a Spanish house that artfully melds the old and new

A staircase becomes the focal point of Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco's textural exploration of materiality, texture, and history. There is a riot going on with the staircase. An army of little interventions has taken the house by storm, showing the many lives, agents, politics, and temporalities of the interior. The infamous gotelé (stippled paint) that covered all the popular houses in Spain during the aftermath of Francisco Franco’s death is now used as a pattern in a polyurethane curtain; a hanging garden of tropical plants bridges the outside landscape and interior views; a crown-like neon lighting fixture embedded in the ceiling shows the negative of the exterior—a crenel-topped tower with lancet arch windows; a porthole that looks into the staircase provides opportunity to observe it all. This staircase is just the beginning of a constellation of actions that the New York-based architect and curator Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco imagined for the renovation of this house. It is located in Cardedeu, an old village 27 miles from Barcelona that experienced significant suburban development during the Spanish real estate boom of the 1990s, transforming from a pleasant agricultural landscape into a high-density urban spot. Instead of appeasing the many contradicting histories of the place, Casanovas dug into the possible discordances of the materials that populate the house, taking familiar objects and turning them into a heterogeneous network of connections and conversations. In this sense, the folkloric crochet typology used for quilts is revived with the technology of Dyneema, an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fiber. At the same time, Casanovas considered the work to be a collective endeavor, taking into account not only client consideration but also the collaboration of teams for each intervention and even the photographic representation of the project itself. The importance of the objects marks the position of the designer. For Casanovas, the house’s original design, materials, and construction details reveal the pursuit of opulence that drove part of real estate–boom design in Spain—from the entrance veranda supported by prefabricated, cast Doric columns to the hall and the staircase covered in mass-produced Andalusian tiles, all showing the varied influences, sense of belonging, and re-territorializations of aesthetics. The privileged views over the old town from the house’s back facade at the edges of a suburban area and cow fields are under continuous threat; once the country experiences an economic recovery, the fields will probably be urbanized. But the hanging garden inside the house acts as a reminder of the possibilities of a parliament of living agents. The aesthetics invoked through these interventions are cataloged like an archaeological site, where signature design objects coexist with popular items, such as figurines or inherited furniture. These elements, along with Casanovas’ interventions, employ different ranges of technologies. The idea is to modify the architectural thinking itself and re-signify it: Instead of taking the old and new objects as isolated elements, Casanovas has brought them together to consider them as vertices in a network. The whole image seems like a teenager’s bedroom in which the varied elements do not build a monolithic universe; rather, they articulate a possible multiverse. They explain the relationship between subjective and objective means when accounting for symbolic and imaginary creation in the area of representation. They do this through shared agencies constituted in particular spaces and times, where other agents—groups (the real estate developers), individuals (the clients), objects (the different interventions)—are implicated. The distinct elements help create fluidity among spheres, categories, and relations and are used simultaneously to manage the consequences of such fluidity. Starting from a recognition of the material’s role as an ensemble of processes that form, constitute, and extend the reticulated character of social relationships, we understand that it does not only concern people, but also legislations, conceptions of landscape, and senses of belonging. The staircase is a riot because it doesn’t perform as a pacifier in the context of an architectural design, but as a continuous conversation wherein the familiar elements can gain agency in the discussion of spatial elements. The house is no longer a space of consensus and peace, but a realm of material disputes.
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Creative Time brings interactive urbanism and Recetas Urbanas to Art Basel 2018

Spanish architecture studio Recetas Urbanas (Urban Recipes) will be leaping to this year’s Art Basel, courtesy of New York-based arts organizer Creative Time. In the group’s first international commission, Creative Time has organized Basilea, a series of interactive projects for Basel, Switzerland locals and international fairgoers alike. Basilea will sit on Basel’s Messeplatz and involve visitors through a combination of talks, hands-on workshops, observations, and even through soliciting their help to build the pavilions. By involving the public, Basilea aims to empower guests to re-examine their role as citizens and the effect they can have in civic systems. In the three weeks leading up to Art Basel’s opening on May 23, Recetas Urbanas, headed by architect Santiago Cirugeda, will construct a public pavilion with help from volunteers. The “multi-purpose civic structure,” which will resemble an auditorium, will be built from locally-sourced and found materials, while the participants (fairgoers can sign up here) will be encouraged to learn from each other in a mutual sharing of ideas. After a run of performances and as-of-yet undetermined talks, the future home of the venue will be handed over to the public to vote on. Recetas Urbanas is well known in Spain for their low-cost “guerilla” structures, and previously represented Spain at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Spanish artist Lara Almarcegui, who represented Spain at the 2013 Venice Biennale, will construct a large-scale “quarry” installation made of gravel that will surround the finished Recetas Urbanas pavilion. The piece will grow daily over the course of the fair, as gravel mirroring the amount removed from a local Basel quarry will be deposited on the Messeplatz, and ask viewers to consider the destructive impact humans have on the environment. Dominican-American artist Isabel Lewis will round out Creative Time’s program, and using her training in dance and philosophy, and experience staging interactive shows, will host a series of workshops and events. Throughout the fair, Lewis will encourage visitors to rethink how they conceive of “self” versus “community”, and how citizens form relationships with the urban space around them. Basilea marks the first time the trio of artists will collaborate with each other, and their program at Art Basel should layer and complement each other’s work. Art Basel 2018 will run from May 23 through June 17.
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Mecanoo interprets Moorish vernacular architecture for Spain's Palace of Justice

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Constructed adjacent to a UNESCO World Heritage site, the new Palace of Justice in Córdoba, Spain delivers a contemporary take on the traditional courtyard typology and Moorish screening techniques found throughout the city. Led by Dutch firm Mecanoo and Spain's AYESA, the 51,000-square-foot super dense project was initially awarded after a competition in 2006, and after a long delay, it was designed and built from 2014–2017.
  • Facade Manufacturer Prehorquisa (GRC); Riventi (aluminum); Schüco (windows)
  • Architects Mecanoo Architecten; Ayesa
  • Facade Installer Ute Isolux Corsán-Copcisa (contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Ayesa Seville (Structural, mechanical and electrical engineer; fire safety, sustainability, lighting, acoustics; and roofs and facade consultation)
  • Location Córdoba, Spain
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System GRC panels; anodized aluminum screen
  • Products GRC sandwich panel by Prehorquisa, composed of approx. 3-1/2" expanded polystyrene insulation between 3/8" GRC sheets; custom bronze anodized aluminum screen system by Riventi
The exterior cladding is responsive to large massing blocks that accommodate deep courtyard recesses for daylight admittance. These voids in an otherwise imposing monolithic block doubly function as spatial dividers for various internal zones serving civic, judicial, administrative, and institutional spaces. The resulting semi-public patio spaces offer up an opportunity for admittance of natural light and ventilation deep into the core of the block, where a central circulation “spine” runs. The cladding strategy is precisely coordinated with the massing of the building, relying on 33 versions of white glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFC) panels, articulated with a loose grid of punched window openings and recesses in the facade for texture. The depth of this system offers solar shading at glazed openings to help buffer the building’s occupants from southern Spain’s subtropical climate. A large cantilevered entry, and numerous courtyards, assist in the self-shading strategies of the building massing. A bronze-anodized aluminum lattice composed of vertical plates and horizontal tie rods clads the courtyard walls. These screens sit outboard of various window configurations to accommodate the office program beyond. While the Córdoba city center is located south-east from the site, the building volume was condensed to create a generous ramping entrance square to the north which connects the Palace of Justice with the existing Huerta del Sordillo gardens. The building contains a courthouse with 26 courtrooms, a wedding room, a Forensic Institute, offices, a cafe, an archive, a prison, and a parking garage.
"One can say that the sustainability of the building is not achieved by expensive technological mechanisms but by an intelligent interpretation of the vernacular architecture," said Mecanoo, referring to the unique shaping of their building, in a press release. "The massing strategy creates urban integration through fragmentation. It follows a similar strategy to the spontaneous growth process of medieval cities resulting in a volume which is carefully sculpted to adapt to the surrounding context. This results in a puzzle-like structure which hints its process of formation and emulates the experience of the dense historical center of Córdoba." Francine Houben, a founder of Mecanoo, will be delivering a keynote presentation at The Architect's Newspaper's (AN) upcoming Facades+ New York conference, a two-day event in mid-April focused on the design and performance of the next generation of facades. More information on the conference, along with registration details, can be found at facadesplus.com.
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For Mexico City–based Fernanda Canales, uncertainty is part of architecture

The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices award and lecture series highlights individuals and firms with distinct design “voices”, singling out those with the potential to go on to even greater heights. 2018 saw two rounds of judging; first by a panel of past Emerging Voices winners, and a second to pick the winners. The first-round jury included Virginia San Fratello, Sebastian Schmaling, Wonne Ickx, Lola Sheppard, Marcelo Spina, Carlos Jimenez, and Marlon Blackwell, as well as members of the second-round jury, Sunil Bald, Lisa Gray, Stella Betts, Jing Liu, Paul Makovsky, Tom Phifer, Chris Reed, and Billie Tsien. AN profiled all of the emerging voices firms in our February print issue. Mexico City-based Fernanda Canales will deliver her lecture on March 8th, 2018, at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan. After studying architecture at prestigious schools in Spain and Mexico, Fernanda Canales quickly discovered that the rigorous techniques she had learned had little relevance in the real world. Since starting her firm, in 2002, she has opted for a more flexible, thoughtful, personal approach. “Instead of relying on formal, definite solutions, I try to give informal, indeterminate strategies,” said Canales, who has no office, no employees, and spends most of her time on construction sites, morphing her projects through constant observation and feedback. “I realized that my preparations didn’t match the reality of what clients want, what workers can do, the limits of budgets, and the reality of everyday life,” she said. The Bruma House, located on a rural site about two hours from Mexico City, began as a fairly typical home for a couple and their two children. But once her construction team began work, Canales realized that the project needed to better adapt to its lush landscape and to a climate that swung dramatically from day to night. Now, no rooms are directly attached, so every space has at least two windows, allowing for maximum natural light. The building meanders its way through the site, maintaining existing trees and plant life in the process. Since starting her firm, Canales has also shifted her focus to highlight the intermediate, often-neglected spaces between public and private. These, she noted, often have greater impact on the users and those living around the projects. The Portales Dwelling, a multifamily apartment in Mexico City, diverges from the city’s typical housing blocks, with their closed stairs, shut-off alleys, and unimaginative envelopes. Portales opens up in every place it can, with large balconies in front, uncovered patios in back, open stairs in between, and roof terraces above. “It addresses the beautiful climate of Mexico City, instead of ignoring it,” said Canales, who added that the addition of green and open spaces helps the development better fit into its context, minimizing the usual scorn from neighbors. With the Elena Garro Cultural Center, also in Mexico City, Canales converted a long-abandoned private manor into a public amenity. The first step was removing a large wall between the home and sidewalk, reinforcing that all were welcome. To further show the public what was inside the cloistered historic house, Canales created a large glass-walled addition in front, framed in concrete, exposing books and other amenities, which are surrounded by a series of updated gardens and courtyards. To keep her work as simple as possible, Canales generally avoids complex new materials, working often with concrete, which she values for its affordability, durability, and ease of use. “I go for what workers know how to do. It’s the most practical solution,” she noted. Her reading rooms, built for the Mexican Ministry of Culture for use around the country, are modular concrete structures that function as meeting and recreational spaces. Their perforated facades, which create an effect that Canales calls “social lanterns,” allow them to be easily built (without glazing or other complications) and their interiors to be visible from the outside, making them safer. Her careful, socially oriented approach, Canales pointed out, is not new, and she’s long been studying Mexican social housing—particularly its boom times, like the 1920s and 1950s. She’s soon publishing a book, called Shared Structure, Private Spaces: Housing in Mexico (Actar Publishers). “I can’t imagine doing without thinking or thinking without doing,” she said. “It’s all important research.”
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Valencia's Alfaro Hofmann Collection explores the cultural significance of industrial design

  If you find yourself in Valencia, Spain, and you're tired of Santiago Calatrava's immoderate, Jurassic Park–like Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, there is a much smaller and more interesting cultural space for you. lux3 The Alfaro Hofmann Collection is a small compound in an industrial quarter of the city that includes a collection of sculptures by the important Valencian artist, Andreu Alfaro; a small research institute; and the architectural offices of Fran Silvestre/Andres Alfaro, who created the complex. The Hoffman Collection focuses on the culture of everyday objects of the 20th century. It features a collection of hundreds of home and personal appliances (irons, toasters, radios, etc.) that includes some of the most important industrial designs of the century. lux2 Unlike, say, the Museum of Modern Art’s design collection, which really highlights design, this collection looks at the importance of these objects as they contributed to the evolution of the appliances' function and their importance to our culture. The collection of commercial refrigerators would never be found on West 53rd Street, but here they make a convincing argument for the evolution of this cooling machine. The Alfaro also features a collection of artwork and promotional literature on each of the objects in a research center that is open to the public. The collection is located at Fusters, s/n, Pol. d’Obradors 46110 Godella, Valencia, Spain.