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2G N.25 Josep Lluís Mateo: Recent Work (2G: International Architecture Review Series) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Mai 2003


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Internationally known for his labors as head of the famous magazine "Quaderns" between 1981 and 1990, Josep Lluis Mateo has never abandoned his professional practice as an architect, building not only in Spain, but in various European countries, an activity he currently combines with teaching at the ETH in Zurich. This monographic issue presents his most recent projects and buildings. Among his built works are the housing block on Borneo Island (Amsterdam), two groups of apartments in Barcelona, a covered swimming pool in Girona, and the Barcelona International Convention Center, due to be inaugurated in 2004. This number features essays by such prestigious international critics as Wilfried Wang, Akos Moravanszky, Manuel Delgado, Aaron Betsky and Ignasi de Sola-Morales, and is complemented by a conversation with Inaki Abalos, a text by Mateo himself, "In Globalization", and photos taken especially for this issue by Xavier Ribas.

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In Globalization
by Josep Lluís Mateo

Globalization is obvious, it means a new setting for the practice of architecture. I'm interested in considering globalization here in relation to the hard core of our activity: the project.

1. The "internationalist" visions of the past century were global, general visions: Siegfried Giedion and the contemporary school as a whole spoke of the commonplace harbored within the Zeitgeist; Philip Johnson and H. Russell-Hitchcock did this in terms of "style."
None of these pretensions is now relevant.
The contemporary scene is compatible with a landscape, diverse and interrelated multiple experiences. The outcome is a vectorial sum of forces. The vectors are individual ones and they flow, to a great or lesser degree, in the shuttle between provisional/final.
"Perhaps this needs to be a new type of communication that functions not on the basis of resemblances but on the basis of differences: a communication of singularities."

2. The global/local alternative corresponds at a physical level to the generic/specific dialectic: the generic as a point of arrival of the pressures of globalization, pressures understood as homogenization, and the specific as an expression of the singular.
The finest tradition of contemporary European architecture involves the construction of the project as the result of a specific intelligence, a task the deployment of globalization confronts with new challenges and questions; namely, new planning opportunities.
It would be over-pessimistic (and thus ingenuous) to deduce that the globalized world involves a stage set leveled by homogeneity.
In globalization a specific new project must be put forward.

3. Center and periphery.
Prior design represented the city, the territory, as a sum total of circles radiating from a center.
The energy diminished depending on how far we were from this center.
The final, specialized circle indicated a boundary line between interior and exterior.
The diagram is no longer this one, but rather a network located in space, in which the flows are dense and relatively homogeneous. Among these there are holes, some of them dangerous: the black holes of globalization, places on the edge and suffering increasing decadence.
Within the network, though, we are faced with "a superficial world whose center one can immediately arrive at from any point on its surface."

4. "We don't lack communication. On the contrary, we have too much. What we lack is creativity. We lack a resistance to the present."
In globalization, architecture must involve a frictional force that causes the globalizing pressures (basically immaterial ones) to acquire consistency and meaning.
Among the forces of globalization leading to the generic, one insists on the autonomous and protected, closed nature of the project. Architecture must work against these premises; it must try to open up, connect and explain.
In globalization architecture must work against.

5. The essence of globalization is immaterial and virtual. Architecture right now must be real. Today the material is a conquest; that's to say, it presupposes the existence of a battle to be won.

6. In its intellectual engagement with the world, architecture is perhaps one of the last activities that can aspire to monumentalizing and giving meaning to the archaically obvious. I'm referring to the world of sensations and primary contact with the cosmos and its forces (water, sun, gravity, wind, earth). Without architecture, forces limited to pure, fictitious experience.

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