Institut Ramon LLull

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Grafting Architecture. Catalonia at Venice, Collateral Event at the Biennale Architettura 2014

Archit. & design.  Barcelona,  12/05/2014

The Institut Ramon Llull will be present for the second time at the Biennale Architettura 2014 within the Eventi Collaterali with a project curated by Josep Torrents i Alegre: Grafting Architecture. Catalonia at Venice. This proposal, chosen by a jury through a public competition held by the Institut Ramon Llull, seeks to show the paradigm shift taking place in contemporary Catalan architecture, presenting examples of a way of going about things that is able to update a living tradition, projecting it towards the future. Grafting Architecture. Catalonia at Venice will open on June 5th at the Cantieri Navali, Calle Quintavalle, Castello, 40.

The proposal represents a determination to recognize, appreciate and reformulate the specificity of local Catalan architecture in contrast with the global and franchised architecture that has been dominant in recent years. The starting point is Casa Bofarull (1913-1933), one of the key works of Josep Maria Jujol (1879-1949). In this Tarragonan architect's way of working we can identify an attitude that can be traced through many projects built in the last century and which is based on an intensive dialogue with pre-existing features (physical or otherwise) that enable a project including and blending new and existing elements to be developed, just as cuttings are grafted to a tree.


Casa Bofarull allows us to explore an architectural attitude that is timeless. Accompanying it are IES La Llauna in Badalona (1984-56, Carme Pinós and Enric Miralles), Espai La Lira in Ripoll (2004-11, RCR Arquitectes and Joan Puigcorbé), and the transmitter space for the megalithic tumulus/dolmen in Seró (2007-2013, Toni Gironès), projects removed in time but very close in many ways. All of them work with pre-existing constructions and are the result of layering concepts in which traditional materials are reinterpreted, and they are inserted in the territory, engaging in dialogue. They are complex and enriching projects that add a temporary milestone to the place where they are built, and they cannot be understood without their surrounds, it being impossible to separate the parts from the whole—a rich local-universal synthesis is seen as the driving force of the project, where the world is reinterpreted from one of its corners. Projects on the slow burner and reflection continuing a long-standing architectural tradition.

The four buildings selected enable deeper comprehension of an attitude shared by other architectural examples. Thus a selection of twelve projects through which different ways of approaching different problems can be traced is being presented:

  • Apartments in La Pedrera (1953-1955, Francisco Juan Barba Corsini)
  • restoration of the Church of L'Hospitalet (1981-1984, José Antonio Martínez Lapeña & Elias Torres Tur Architects) 
  • Caldereria Petita House in Gelida (2001-2002, Calderon - Folch - Sarsanedas Arquitectes) 
  • Can Framis Museum in Barcelona (2007-2009, BAAS Arquitectura) 
  • Juan Apartment in Barcelona (2011, Vora arquitectura)
  • Auditorium of Saint Francesc Church in Santpedor (2003-2011, David Closes)
  • three stations of Barcelona Metro Line 9: Amadeu Torner, Parc Logístic and Mercabarna (2008-2011, Garcés - De Seta - Bonet Arquitectes & i Ingeniería Tec-4 - Ferran Casanovas, Antonio Santiago i Felipe Limongi)
  • Arenys de Munt Health Center – Can Zariquiey (2006-2013, Miàs Arquitectes) 
  • Cultural Center Casal Balaguer in Palma (1996 – under construction, Flores&Prats Arquitectes & Duch-Pizá)
  • Vall d'en Joan landfill in Begues (2002 - under construction, Enric Batlle, Joan Roig and Teresa Galí I Izard)
  • Tower with 94 subsidized housing units (2012- under construction, Josep Llinàs)
  • Project to Revive and develop the area of Adhamyia in Baghdad (2012 – under construction, AV62 Arquitectos & Pedro García del Barrio & Pedro Azara).

Josep Torrents i Alegre is joined by two assistant curators in curating the exhibition: Guillem Carabí, an architect in charge of the section dedicated to Jujol, and Jordi Ribas, a cultural manager in charge of the Actions.

In the words of Torrents i Alegre, "the proposal is not a debate on taxidermic and conservative projects but examines an architectural approach that generates new layers and establishes new relationships where it intervenes. Hybridization is a concept that conveys the idea of a new, more vigorous organism emerging from two organisms combining their original components, and the architecture presented is the result of these vigorous combinations."

The guiding thread of the proposal is the description of the different projects through the architectural process and the subsequent perception of the resulting building. These projects are understood from themselves, their uniqueness, and not as architecture that forms part of a movement.

The first phase describes the process used to plan and build the structure using photographs, sketches, drawings, models and so on, but never documents from the finished buildings. This phase enables understanding and discovery of the different ways of approaching this attitude, listening to the voices of the architects.

The second phase emphasizes the perception of this architecture from three different perspectives. The passage of time and daily life will be captured in photographs and videos. The Actions will take place in this phase; four different artists have been chosen to reinterpret each building through an artistic action designed specifically for the space where they are to be performed.


Sponsors of IRL projects

The Institut Ramon Llull

is a consortium that comprises the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia), Balearic Islands Government and the Barcelona City Council, and its mission is the promotion of Catalan language and culture abroad.

Generalitat de CatalunyaGovern Illes BalearsAjuntament de Barcelona

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