Arquitectura Viva
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Arquitectura Viva 112


Tres textos, seis tesis y doce obras en cinco continentes
I-II 2007

The House or the City. The urgent need to take energy-saving measures to address the challenge of climate change has rekindled the debate on the models of growth of cities. The sprawl or uncontrolled spreading that has characterized the American residential landscape during the last half century is now being transferred both to European countries and to the rest of the world, in spite of its unsustainability. In contrast to this type of dispersed development, the alternative of the compact city, which makes possible a more efficient use of resources, is gradually gaining strength.


Luis Fernández-Galiano
Celebration of the City
Richard Ingersoll
Changing Weather
Ole Bouman
Truth or Suburbia
Luis Fernández-Galiano
The Law of the Street
Six Separate Theses


A Home in the World. From west to east, an itinerary through the five continents prompts this collection of samples of single-family houses. Starting in America, a perforated cube on the Chilean coast of Talca and a twisted
volume in the Catskills, close to New York. In Europe, a camouflaged Irish residence in Dromahair, prefabricated dwellings in the French Treflez, a lightweight prism in the Madrid municipality of Las Rozas, a blue village atop a roof in Rotterdam, a Swedish farm reinvented in Skåne and an angular home in the Austrian town of Enns. In Africa, a stage to enjoy the South African landscape of East London. In Asia, a Korean residence that evokes the mountainous profile of Gapyeong and a fragmented house in Tokyo. Lastly, in the Australian beach of St Andrew’s, an inhabitable cantilevered beam.

Cover Story

Pezo von Ellrichshausen, Talca
UNStudio, Catskill Mountains
Dominic Stevens, Dromahair
Lacaton & Vassal, Treflez
Ábalos & Herreros, Las Rozas
MVRDV, Rotterdam
John Pawson, Skåne
Baukultur, Enns
Omm, East London
Bae Dae-Yong, Gapyeong
Ryue Nishizawa, Tokyo
Sean Godsell, St Andrew’s Beach

Views and Reviews

Art and Comic. The four most influential American critics review the art of the 20th century in a book now edited in Spanish; and the analysis of the vignettes of Tintin reveals the importance of space in the world of Hergé.

Art / Culture

Juan Antonio Ramírez
A Hundred Stories
Fernando Zaparaín
Faster, Faster

European Triennials. The Milan show has presented a monographic exhibition devoted to the oeuvre of Renzo Piano; the Lisbon Triennial, for its part, has dedicated its first edition to the subject of urban voids. Richard Ingersoll
In the Craftsman’s Workshop
Ana Vaz Milheiro
The Strategy of Lisbon
Private Spaces. Though from different points of view, three publications examine aspects related to the domestic space and how it has evolved in order to adapt to the new lifestyles of those who inhabit it. Focho’s Cartoon
Baumschlager & Eberle
Various Authors
Recent Projects

Italian Renaissance. A prism covered with red ceramic pieces wraps the perimeter of a 19th century building; a U-shaped volume protects a courtyard of a kindergarten located in an industrial area; and an apartment block completes an existing structure in a reinterpretation of the traditional noble house. Three works that speak of the good moment of Italian architecture.

Technique / Style

Archea Associati
Municipal Library, Nembro
Antonio Citterio
Kindergarten, Verona
Cherubino Gambardella
Housing, Montesarchio

To close, Luis Fernández-Galiano evokes, on the occasion of the recently celebrated Lisbon Triennial, his encounters with the neighboring country and the perception of its architecture from Spain, in a text made up of fragments organized by theme that wishes to pay tribute to the book of the same title that the French Georges Perec published almost thirty years ago. Products
Prototypes, Furniture, Materials
English Summary
The House or the City
Luis Fernández-Galiano
‘Je me souviens’
Luis Fernández-Galiano

The house or the City

AViva-112-lfg.jpg (10184 bytes)Classical thought established a seamless transition from the private realm of the house to the public sphere of the city. In a famous text, Leon Battista Alberti assured that the city is a big house, just as the house is a small city, appropriately stressing the correspondence between the whole and the parts that characterizes classicism, and joining the different scales of the environment in a shared worldview. But the Renaissance city is often made up as the private sphere of a prince or a family, and the stately house also has representative and formal functions that belong to the public realm. Humanism, after all, was not based on the autonomy of individuals, and the concept of intimacy or privacy was still far from emerging in social history.

The irruption of individualism does not occur until the Enlightenment, the beginning of a radical transformation of habitation and territory, renewed stages of the autonomous activity of a myriad of elementary particles freed from the links that gave them cohesion while limiting their freedom. Set in motion by this colossal change, the city becomes a new organism, whose accelerated growth brings about what we call the urban revolution: a process driven by individuals, and that however devours them as Saturn his children, so that industrial society everywhere adopts collectivist structures that cause the gigantism and the alienation of the metropolis, the urban malaise that is expressed in the search for personal paradises.

On the threshold of the 21st century, the city is no longer a house we can confidently inhabit, and even less so is the house a city that supplies the essential elements of sociability. One could say that the city has become uninhabitable and the house unsociable, so that the two can only be joined by a disjunctive conjunction: the house or the city, for today’s city has become an enemy of the house, just as the house is at war with the city as it is. In fact, the house – or rather the endless multiplication of individual or single-family homes – has created its own city, a blurred version of the metropolis that the reformers of the 19th century called garden-city, and that today we prefer to qualify as suburban to avoid calling it ‘infraurban’ or ‘antiurban.’

Publishing fine houses without drawing attention to the territorial and social model within which they occur may betray a certain critical blindness, and here there is an effort to make up for that omission through the oxymoronic or schizophrenic mixture of texts that document and appraise urban sprawl along with projects that illustrate the conceptual or formal refinement of some remarkable houses. This combination of abrasive writing and eye candy is disconcerting, and perhaps reprehensible; but the society of spectacle drags us all, and in the troubled waters of this river that carries us along – driven by the current or the wind of history as the angel of Paul Klee under the gaze of Walter Benjamin – maybe we can only hope to keep our eyes wide open.

Arquitectura Viva 112 - LA CASA O LA CIUDAD
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