Antonio Fernndez Alba, in memoriam: the melancholy of town | EUROtoday

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As a baby, Antonio Fernndez Alba went to the varsity of Atilano Coco, the Anglican pastor who had a friendship with Miguel de Unamuno and who one evening in December 1936 was shot within the hills of Salamanca. The tragic reminiscence of the grasp and, with it, the blurred picture of Unamuno—whom Fernández Alba's father, a rich native builder, frequented—fashioned the substrate of the architect's reminiscence, that unconscious half that by no means ceases to shine via. all through life and that Fernndez Alba enriched with photographs partly actual and partly constructed by his nostalgia: the tranquility of a busy residence; the golden splendor of Renaissance Salamanca; the odor of harvest from the Castilian fields; or the shadow, lastly, of Tormes en la Flecha, that property the place Brother Luis de León retired and which Fernndez Alba, in his previous age, evoked with devotion and unhappiness.

It is troublesome to know if a set of recollections can maintain a life, since largely the recollections are made after the actual fact, they’ve some posthumous illuminations, however within the case of Fernández Alba there isn’t any doubt that the pictures treasured in his childhood assist to raised perceive his profession. If the reminiscence of residence evokes her journey to half-gutted Madrid in 1947 to check Architecture beneath the tutelage of a pal of her father, the architect Jos Luis Fernndez del Amo, the reminiscence of Salamanca and its countryside clarify Fernández Alba's first initiatives in that metropolis, maybe the perfect of his work, whereas Fray Luis's retirement speaks of the eagerness that the architect all the time felt for poetry, by which he noticed a weapon extra highly effective than poetry. structure, the self-discipline to which he however devoted himself with ardour and sobriety.

Fernndez Alba's is just not a stylist structure. It is just not subsumed within the recognizable and pre-cooked types of a model, however relatively it unfolds, evolves, mutates relying on the completely different contexts and the mental modifications and preferences of its creator. It is just not the structure of the hedgehog that is aware of every thing from the start, however that of the fox that continues studying and isn’t afraid to alter. In this recreation of modifications, there’s a first Fernández Alba, younger and energetic, who seeks within the smooth types of organicism and in his aspiration to get nearer to life an antidote for the mechanistic coldness (the “catalogue rationalism”, he referred to as it). ) that within the mid-Twentieth century froze structure. Although Fernández Alba's organicism was modest, precarious, as Spain was then, he has left us a handful of buildings that point will proceed to substantiate as masterpieces: the Rollo convent in Salamanca, the place the hygiene of Le Corbusier, the plasticity by Aalto and Utzon and native historical past made with sandstone, tile roofs and barred home windowsbut additionally the Nuestra Señora de Santa María School in Madrid or the Montfort School in Loeches, faculties the place pedagogical renewal is aware of easy methods to ally itself with the human scale, conventional supplies and the panorama.

After the organicist, there’s Fernndez Alba who met Louis Kahn in 1967 and, fascinated by the fashionable rhetoric however on the identical time monumental by the American architect, constructed a notable assortment of public buildings in a Spain, that of the Transition, that I wanted new emblems. Among them is the Valladolid School of Architecture, which escapes from blunt functionalism to say itself in an amazing geometry, with which Fernández Alba begins his lengthy listing of college buildings. And there’s additionally the Data Center of the Geographic Institute of Madrid, with its façade measured like a temple however huge like a manufacturing unit, or, later, the Mortuary of the M-30 in Madrid, whose timeless and serene geometry challenges the freeway. and imposes dignity on the all the time troublesome ambiance of loss of life.

Along with the organicist of late Francoism and the civicist of the Transition, there’s, in any case, Fernández Alba who was involved in historical past and who, marked by his studying as a fleeting director of the Institute of Conservation and Restoration, devoted an excellent a part of the final stretch of his profession to construct on what was constructeda dedication that will give rise to excellent interventions each in monuments in his native Salamanca – the Real Clereca – and in a few of the greatest buildings of that Madrid of the Enlightenment, optimistic and contained, with which Fernández Alba so recognized: from the Astronomical Observatory to the greenhouse of the Botanical Garden or the previous San Carlos Hospital, at the moment the Reina Sofa Museum.

Prolific and dedicated to his time, the profession of Fernndez Alba – who acquired all of the awards that an architect can obtain and was a part of two royal academies – could make us neglect that What the Salamanca grasp was not a lot the splendors of the fashion however relatively the cultural coronary heart and civic sense of structure.. For Fernández Alba, structure was rigor of the fabric, but additionally feeling displayed in types and the flexibility to see actuality with important eyes and dream issues for the higher. The trainer was satisfied that structure creates shelters as a lot because it builds symbols., transcends the decision of ephemeral features or the validation of actual property speculations, and is, finally, an artwork for all, frequent, because it builds town. For this motive, he was additionally satisfied that the one method to preserve the broad, related cultural standing of structure was for architects to not surrender the standing of humanist technicians that they’d as soon as had or have been mentioned to have as soon as had.

That he, in fact, was a humanist is clear, from the outset, in his very early ardour for essentially the most demanding literature, that of mystics like Saint John of the Cross and romantic poets like Hlderlin or Novalis, who continued studying till the tip. And it is usually evident in his virtually obsessive curiosity in artwork and philosophy. If artwork—which he lived from inside as the one architect of the El Paso Group—was for Fernández Alba an escape from self-conscious structure to the presumed kingdom of freedom, philosophy grew to become the channel of an inexhaustible curiosity however one that might not be understood. She didn’t wish to be systematic, as a result of it was made on the mercy of her issues. That didn’t make her any much less wealthy: it was the demanding curiosity with which she sustained herself simply as she sustained her many disciples in that Madrid School of Architecture whose pedagogue renewed it from the roots, to modernize and enrich it.

The face that point has given to structure ended up being unrecognizable to Fernndez Alba. He was scandalized by the superstitious adoration of “starchitects”, the cultural anomie of the cities and the dissolution of humanism; I felt all of this virtually like a private failure. He didn’t surrender, nonetheless, going towards the present, though he selected to take action quietly, with clairvoyance, and in two methods: writing texts that he knew few would learn and shedding himself in a nostalgic retreat to hunt, just like the poet, the corporate of few pals and even fewer however extra discovered books. collectively. At the tip of his lengthy life, Antonio Fernández Alba, one of the vital influential architects of his time, felt much less like an architect than merely a reader, and this humble however lucid assertion offers the measure of his mental and human stature.