Tuesday, 31 May 2011

We paint the Museum of the Nation

[On the painting of Lima's Museo de la Nación]

We are responsible for the refurbishment of the Continental Bank Building. We chose to cover the Civic Centre with aluminum plates imitating the colour of the original casted concrete. We allowed the renovations of the Ricardo Palma Clinic. We are going to demolish the ex San José de Cluny School.

You, me, each and every one of the members of the College for Architects, each member of the union and every student and teacher at the schools of architecture. We are the responsible, the only responsible.
And we are not responsible because we could not stop it; nor because our small and useless cries for protest, which does seem to reach nowhere. We are responsible of the initial cause of all these interventions: we are responsible for the anonymity of our Peruvian architecture.

Because, let’s be honest, outside particular academic spheres and outside our own groups, who would know what was the architectonic importance of the Museum of the Nation (Ministry of Fisheries)? Did anybody ever hear the word ‘brutalism’? Did anybody even care?

No. And it is pointless to blame “the ignorance of the people” in such absurdly generic terms.

It is our fault.

Is the fault of those who do have the answers to those questions but do not bother to share them with our community. And the community does not care anyway, because the gap existing between them and us (starting from the fact of expressing ourselves in terms of “them” and “us”) is too broad. We architects have never cared about reaching to people. We are the demiurge, the creator, the inventor, the creative. Never the link, the connection, the dialogue, the professional serving.

If the architect have never cared about accompanying the citizen in discovering its own city, if he or she had never listened, if, instead of a dialogue he or she has chosen the monologue, then that architect has no right to complain, if that very citizen, ignored (and thus ignorant), decides to act upon something which meaning we have never bothered to explain.

If we have not have interest in sharing what we do, in “diffuse” (if we want to use a fashionable term) what architecture is about and when it is good, if we impose our ideas without bothering to explain and we collide with differences, it is only our fault.

It is, fellow architects, out fault. We are painting the Museum of the Nation. And it is turning out ugly.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Words about Architecture (D. Scott Brown)

"Charles Seeger, philosopher of 'musics', believed that art, music and architecture cannot be explined in writing, baceuse words are linear and hide the essence of arts that are nonverbal and nonlinear. Strav
insky, too, when asked the meaning of a composition just played it again. But then what were Seeger and Stravinsky doing, and what am I doing writing words?

Bob [Robert Venturi] and I write mainly to clarify our ideas. As makers and doers, we have evolved a troika between looking/learning, writing/theorising and designing/building. We jump between these in no particular order and require al three to produce our work. We feel that new architecture needs words to help it along (the photo essay is our preferred method). And setting down an idea helps us to understand and use it, and eventually to go on to the next one. But architectural writing also serves to describe, direct and explain projects, to express criticism and conduct polemics.


How do you learn and teach architectural writing? I learned it in primary and secondary school, then on my own with help from friends like Charles Seeger; and, although I would not dare teach the personal and poetic, I am accustomed to helping interns learn to write everyday prose. A few arrive with this ability but most seem not to have learned it in either their liberal arts or professional education. I gather that some professional schools (engineering, for example) run in-house courses in expository writing, having discovered that the last place they will find this teaching is in university English departments. I tell young architects that building an argument is like building a building. You cannot just throw thoughts at a subject; there must be a logic and pattern to the development of ideas. This then gets translated into structures and substructures, with the alteration of none part requiring the restabilisation of the whole. Student architects are sometimes told, if you can write, you can draw. I reverse the argument: if you can draw, you can write (not poetry, but good working prose).


Then forget words. Creative cycles call for reading, thinking, impassioning, then sleeping and opening a new book. There need be no preconceptions. The world can start again on a white page. As Lou Kahn said, the process passes from the unmeasurable, through the measurable, to the unmeasurable again. On the way there is room for scientific rigour and for penetration, consciously and unconsciously, of all we have ever seen or read. As the design evolves, the words return in altered form."

Scott Brown, Denise (2009) Having Words. Architectural Association, London.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Lima - Map

Open in pdf
Cartografía: Ministerio de Vivienda, Construcción y Saneamiento. Perú. Edición cartográfica: RESTISUR S.L. y Martín Moreno & Altozano, bajo la dirección de Nicolás Ramírez. Diseño gráfico: Martín Moreno & Altozano. Impresión: Brizzolis. ISBN: 978-84-7595-215-4. Depósito Legal: M-25119-2009.


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Documentary on Peru, 1940

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