La cultura y la herencia en la arquitectura


© Edmund Sumner

La pregunta por la herencia está cada vez más presente en la arquitectura contemporánea. Ante un mundo cada vez más globalizado, existe una suerte de “movimiento de retorno”, donde la afirmación por la propia identidad y la herencia cultural está fortaleciéndose cada vez más intensamente. ¿Qué es lo propio?, ¿Cómo debería ser una casa sueca, alemana, china, o brasileña?, ¿Cómo construir en una ciudad que ya tiene más de mil años? Ciertamente cada arquitecto y cada tiempo ensaya su propia respuesta, pero la pregunta fundamental sobre qué es lo que se debe “mantener” y qué es lo que se puede “cambiar”, nos lleva a preguntarnos por la diferencia entre lo esencial y lo accidental en la arquitectura.

El arquitecto chileno Germán del Sol citaba una analogía que ilustraba su posición al respecto. Para del Sol, continuar con la tradición de un ancestro que utilizaba siempre un sombrero de copa, no es usar también, 80 años después, un sombrero de copa igual que el ancestro. Sino es usar un sombrero que hoy signifique lo que el sombrero de copa significaba en aquel tiempo. En ese sentido, el chileno llama a que la arquitectura, en cuanto a su inserción cultural, no busque aferrarse a formas, modas o técnicas del pasado, sino a mirar el mundo, la realidad, la ciudad y el entorno como ha sido mirado por un pueblo históricamente determinado.

Si bien la analogía creo que ilumina una aproximación donde no se cede a lo nuevo por el sólo hecho de ser nuevo, ni se mantiene tercamente aferrada a elementos accidentales, es un tanto limitada para expresar esta realidad tan compleja y rica.

Utilizando la analogía citada creo que podríamos preguntarnos, yendo un poco más lejos, sobre qué fue lo que motivaba a aquel hombre a usar su sombrero… ¿es que lo usaba por el sol? ¿Era por la elegancia? ¿era para demostrar una cierta sobriedad ante una sociedad más “informal”? ¿O era simplemente para esconder una herida en la cabeza?.

Por ello creo que las grandes preguntas de la arquitectura no deben estar puestas ni en elementos materiales, ni tampoco en actividades o funciones determinadas. Deben ir al campo de lo que podríamos describir como el mundo de los valores o del sentido. Siendo así, la pregunta ya no sería “cómo” ni “para qué” se construía entonces, sino “por qué”. ¿Por qué el hombre aquel usaba sombrero? ¿Porqué la plaza de San Marcos tiene esos estilos arquitectónicos? ¿Cómo se vivía entonces? ¿qué se valoraba del habitar en esos años y seguimos valorando hoy? ¿qué nos une como pueblo, más allá de vivir en la misma geografía 80 o 400 años más tarde? ¿Con qué criterios de juicio se juzgaba la realidad de aquella época y se optaba a la hora de planear y de vivir la arquitectura?

Estas preguntas de fondo no deben ser ajenas a la arquitectura. El arquitecto que no se las pregunta, traiciona, de algún modo, la responsabilidad respecto al futuro que su mismo pueblo le ha confiado. La auténtica obra de arquitectura trasciende al arquitecto mismo, ya que ella sigue hablando en un mañana que probablemente él no alcanzará a conocer nunca.

Este artículo no aspira a cerrar aquellas preguntas. Más bien lo que se pretende es abrir interrogantes e invitar a la reflexión.

Adjunto 5 proyectos que de alguna forma han tratado de responder a esta pregunta. No fueron escogidos para sentar un paradigma. Antes por el contrario, se pretende que el lector juzgue según lo estime conveniente.

Los proyectos han sido tomados de ArchDaily

HOME FARM

© Edmund Sumner

Architects: De Matos Ryan
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
Project Year: 515 sqm + 88 sqm garage
Photographs: Edmund Sumner

© Edmund Sumner

London-based practice De Matos Ryan has renovated and extended a Grade listed country house estate in Gloucesteshire, Home Farm, bringing it up to date for 21st century living. This design won both the BD Architect of the Year Awards One Off House Architect of the Year and the Roses Design Awards 2011 (Silver) for Re-use of a listed Building.

Home Farm comprises a Grade II listed eight gabled main house and two outbuildings, set in a landscape neighbouring a Grade I listed Church in the Cotswolds. De Matos Ryan have remodeled the main house and added a contemporary garden pavilion which functions as a link building, consolidating the estate whilst housing a new open-plan kitchen and living room.

© Edmund Sumner

The house dates from the 16th Century and was extended in the 17th Century. Having suffered considerable neglect over many years it required a complete refurbishment. It has been restructured internally allowing provision of an additional bedroom and bathroom in the loft space, extending the number of bedrooms from 3 to 4.

The periodic addition of a new detached or infill structure to the site is fundamental to the character of the listed enclosure and expresses the adaptation of the site to the changing needs of its occupants and local community.

Key to unlocking the potential of this house is a new low-level garden pavilion, cut into the sloping hillside with a glazed link to a converted open barn shelter and a hidden ‘underground’ link to the main house. The carefully designed winged roof of the pavilion maintains visibility of the two characteristic large primary stone walls on the site, that of the side of the house and the rear retaining wall to the upper level churchyard.

Inside, modern concrete tiled roofs have been replaced with traditional Cotswold stone tiles. The refurbishment has included restoration of the original internal exposed stonework and timber framed lath and plaster walls and ceilings and extensive repairs to the original lime mortar repointing. All modern windows have been replaced with windows that match the original traditional leaded lights. New modern staircases, bathrooms, doors and joinery have been treated as distinct ‘furniture’ like elements and linings inserted into the original spaces.

To the west of the house is an open barn/out building shelter which has been converted and refurbishment to provide ancillary guest bedroom suite to the house and a garden room facing a new structured garden.

To the South of the site is a further stone structure, previously used as a garage shelter, which has been extended to the East & North to provide an upper level home office studio and a lower level concealed garage with a planted roof for 7 cars.

site plan

Natural local materials of the highest quality have been chosen to match the existing setting. The natural limestone and oak will weather and age to ensure the integration of this with the adjacent structures and landscape quality of the site.

HOUSE IN ABIKO

© Shigeru Fuse

Architects: fuse-atelier (Shigeru Fuse)
Location: Abiko, Chiba pref., Structural Engineers: Konishi Structural Engineer
Main contractor: Shishido Koumuten
Type: Houses-Residential
Site area: 101.00 sqm
Built area: 48.54 sqm
Total floor area: 80.01 sqm
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Shigeru Fuse

© Shigeru Fuse

This project is a residence for a couple in their thirties, built in Abiko City. The client desired a gallery-like concrete-made space where their pleasure of designed furniture stands out.

The location is at the bottom of two plateaus on a soft foundation. Therefore, stakes were necessary to support a reinforced concrete structure. In order to reduce costs, contacting area to the ground was minimized and the number of stakes was reduced. Accordingly, the upper structure was cantilevered. Then, the walls in varying volumes and the roof slab were made into three-dimensional continuous slanted surface and the stress transmission was rationalized, which became a characteristic form.

© Shigeru Fuse
Living/dining room on the second floor has a large open composition towards the green way so as to take in the trees planted on the south side of the site to the interior space. The haircutting space was raised for 1.2 meters from the second floor, so that people will look at the south side green way and the upper side green way and the upper side of the parking on the north side. It also controls the eyesight from the surroundings. The interior space was given a modulated proportion and scale that respond to each space’s activities.
© Shigeru Fuse
The monocoque form made of concrete was inflated and squeezed, following the necessary spatial volume at the living room, cutting space and the wet area. The stiff structure enabled a sash-less detail of glass and the exterior wall aligned in the same surface and realizes the exterior that emphasizes various facets.
© Shigeru Fuse
The residence creates many senses of distance by the form that pursued the relationship of spaces and a rationality of the structure. Moreover, by the angles of the multi-surface composition the space is divided, though connected, and creates various sequences that are accompanied by sensual natural light’s reflection and refraction.

FORTRESS OF FORTEZZA

© Alessandra Chemollo

Architects: Markus Scherer with 
Location: Franzensfeste, Italy
Client: Autonome Provinz Bozen
Collaborator: Heike Kirnbauer, Elena Mezzanotte
Structural Engineering: Baubüro-Klaus Plattner, Bozen
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: René Riller, Alessandra Chemollo

“Begun under Francis I in the year 1833 – completed by Ferdinand I in the year 1838”, reads the Latin inscription over the gate of the fortress. In just five years, over 6,000 workers and soldiers built a blocking position at one of the narrowest points in the Eisack valley. It has the dimensions of a small town and, with a surface area of 20 hectares, is the largest fortification in the Alpine region. With this monumental defensive work the Habsburgs hoped to halt the advance of the revolutionary changes provoked by the French revolution. Designed by regimental engineer Franz von Scholl, it consists of three autonomous sections: the upper, middle and lower fortress levels. It has clear and simple classicist lines; it is functional and impregnable. As the military threat did not materialize in the decades following its construction, however, the fortress rapidly lost its importance. By the end of the 19th century it was merely used as a powder depot. In 1918 Franzensfeste came under Italian rule and was used by the army until 2003.

Situation

Acquired by the province of South Tyrol, new opportunities for the preservation of this cultural monument have arisen: the former fortress is intended to become a place for meetings and cultural exchanges. In 2008 it was one of the four venues for the European biennale of contemporary art, Manifesta 7, and in 2009 it hosted the South Tyrolean regional exhibition.

© Alessandra Chemollo

The Meran architect  prepared the lower fortress level for Manifesta 7, an exhibition surface area of over 3600 m². Preservation of the buildings and the character of the fortress was paramount. The huge granite blocks making up the walls were restored, the roofs waterproofed and the windows repaired. Walled-off spaces were opened up and later additions removed. The size and extent of the complex are not at first obvious from the courtyard behind the main gate. The monolithic structures with small, regularly spaced window apertures are on different levels around the compound, connected by ramps. The lowest are lapped by the dark waters of the adjacent artificial lake. New galvanized steel railings and staircases have improved safety. Two windowless concrete towers with lifts and staircases link the buildings. The surfaces and the material used interpret the historical building method anew: they are concreted in irregular 30-70 cm sections, with a fine layer of sand between each. These layers were flushed out to produce an irregular horizontal joint pattern and granite sand was used to adapt the towers to the surrounding color, with the surface roughened by sandblasting.

© Alessandra Chemollo

These objects, with their military numbering, now accommodate a visitor centre with a ticket office and shop, as well as a bar, restaurant, a play area for children and, last but not least, a large exhibition area. Visitors to Manifesta are greeted by a seemingly endless series of rooms. The carefully restored vaults of exposed brick-work and the plastered walls, some decorated with murals, have retained the aura of the past. On one of the walls can be read “Immer vorwärts!”, always forwards, understandable in every language spoken in the Empire: let modern art breathe fresh life over the walls! New items such as grilles, handrails, doors and the two free-floating bridges over the lake, connecting two buildings, are all constructed of galvanized, patinated steel: the existing elements form a pleasant context for their cloudy black coloration. The existing tunnel, where the Bank of Italy’s stolen gold was found, was extended and a 22-meter long vertical shaft driven through the rock to connect the lower to the middle fortress. The black concrete stairway with its golden handrail (Kunst am Bau (The Art of Building) by Manfred Alois Mayr) spirals upwards like a sculpture.

The stairs and lift end in the partially destroyed powder magazine. This was redesigned as the new entrance building, while the new adjacent building of compressed concrete (colored to match the existing construction through the use of granite sand) provides the outside edges of the missing sections and contains all the sanitary and technical areas for the middle fortress. The remaining buildings have as far as possible been left as they were found. Only certain elements such as safety grilles, rails and ramps have been added and these, as in the lower fortress, are of galvanized, patinated steel.

© Alessandra Chemollo

Fortress of Fortezza / Markus Scherer with Walter Dietl (18) © Alessandra Chemollo

© Alessandra Chemollo

JAEGERSBORG WATER TOWER

Architect: Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter Aps
Location: Gentofte, Copenhagen, 
Project Year: 2006
Landscape Architect: Marianne Levinsen Landscape architects
Client: Gentofte Municipality and Domea
Engineer: Hansen, Carlsen & Frølund A/S
Site Area: 5,370 sqm
Constructed Area: 2,880 sqm
Photographs: Jens Markus Lindhe, Torben Eskerod & DMA
Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter ApS won in 2004 the competition to convert Jægersborg Water Tower into a mixed-use building. On the upper floors, student housing units mark the perimeter of the existing structure. Each unit is expressed by a protruding crystal-like add-on that brings daylight into the apartment, and offers unobstructed views to the surrounding landscape.
Together, the crystals and the communal balconies add both a human scale, and a new sculptural layer, that emphasizes the landmark character of the tower. The lower floors are inhabited by a youth center, and contain several large multipurpose rooms. A combination of tall windows and colored panels create a varied pattern that surrounds the youth center. Large garage-style doors on the ground floor open up to extend the active indoor space into the outdoor playground.265_plan7sal seventh floor plan
228658573_img-0069 228658573_img-0069

PALACE OF AITE

© Jesús Martín Ruiz

Architects: isuuru arquitectos – Aitzpea Lazkano Orbegozo y Carlos Abadías Banzo
Location: San Sebastian, 
Project area: 1,990 sqm
Project year: 2010
Photographs:  Jesús Martín Ruiz

© Jesús Martín Ruiz
Located in the monumental Aiete Park the program for this site included a Cultural Center and House of Peace. The project also required the rehabilitation of the Palace of Aiete, a building that was built by the dukes of Bailen in 1878 and holds great historical value to the city of San Sebastian.The project was to find a balance between program needs and possibilities of the Palace focusing on providing a balance that would maintain the essential nature of the pre-existence structure.

first floor plan
The key action has been to place the House of Peace on the main floor of the Palace. Located on the second floor are the workshop exhibition areas and Cultural Center, connecting to the new building, half buried by the stairwell of service.

© Jesús Martín Ruiz
The project also proposes a way to use the building that enhances the spatial structure: the House of Peace can function independently from the rest of the Cultural Center by using the main staircase of the Palace.

section 02
The new building houses the main uses of cultural facilities. Carved into the ground the volume creates a lawn space for the Palace, and was deliberately designed as an abstract form as to not compete with the figurative language of the existing Palace architecture. The relationship with the Palace and the relationship with Aiete Park are maintained through the structure of the existing platforms.
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