Spanish Architects Ride Out the Crisis | The Plan
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Spanish Architects Ride Out the Crisis

Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos | Josep Llinas Carmona | Aranguren + Gallegos | Bosch Capdeferro | Grupo Aranea | Amid.Cero9

Individual countries continue to lead or lag in the quality of their architecture even as the profession becomes increasingly globalized. Shared software and the rapid circulation of images and ideas erase boundaries, but national differences persist. A recent symposium in Rome posed the question, “Whatever happened to Italian architecture,” and none of the participants had a good answer. Official sponsorship of architecture in France and Germany has done little to foster creativity. Spain is mired in a financial crisis following the collapse of the housing bubble, but its architects are still producing a steady stream of intelligent buildings. In contrast to the splashy star turns by foreign firms - from Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim to Mayer’s Parasol in Seville and Barcelona’s Las Arenas by Rogers Stirk Harbor - the native product tends to be modestly scaled, frugal and understated. The exemplar is Rafael Moneo, whose buildings are sometimes so quiet that they disappear into the urban fabric. This sampling includes recently completed work by six small firms that are intensely focused on each project. Three are located in Madrid and the others in Barcelona, Alicante, and Girona. Much of the best work is being done at the periphery. One reason Spain feels so alive is the resurgence of regional pride, from the Basque Country to Galicia and Catalonia. Rivalry among major cities has produced a few extravagant follies - Calatrava’s blowsy excesses in Valencia and Eisenman’s ponderous City of Culture in Santiago are the most egregious - but they belong to another era. The recession has strengthened the claims of architects who are building responsibly and creating harmonious juxtapositions of new and...

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