30 dic 2014


Basta darse un paseo estos días por la red para darse cuenta de que los rankings y las listas de "lo mejor del año" se han convertido en algo tan tradicional como los polvorones o el Papá Noel de felpa escalando por el balcón. Con todas las reservas que a ello se refiere (hay que entenderlo como algo más lúdico que científico), queremos acabar el año con la selección de algunos de los libros publicados durante 2014 que nos han llamado especialmente la atención. Entre ellos destacan análisis afilados de la actualidad e investigaciones que ofrecen nuevas perspectivas del pasado reciente de la arquitectura. | It is enough taking a stroll on the internet these days to realize that the rankings and lists of "best of the year" have become as traditional as shortbread or plush Santa Claus climbing the balcony. With all due reservations that it refers (must be understood as something more playful than scientific), we end the year with a selection of some of the books published during 2014 that have particularly caught our attention. These include sharp analysis of current events and research that offer new perspectives of the recent past of architecture.

Expulsions. Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy
Saskia Sassen
Belknap Press - Harvard University Press, 2014

Soaring income inequality and unemployment, expanding populations of the displaced and imprisoned, accelerating destruction of land and water bodies: today’s socioeconomic and environmental dislocations cannot be fully understood in the usual terms of poverty and injustice, according to Saskia Sassen. They are more accurately understood as a type of expulsion—from professional livelihood, from living space, even from the very biosphere that makes life possible. Sassen draws surprising connections to illuminate the systemic logic of these expulsions. The sophisticated knowledge that created today’s financial “instruments” is paralleled by the engineering expertise that enables exploitation of the environment, and by the legal expertise that allows the world’s have-nations to acquire vast stretches of territory from the have-nots.

Photographic Architecture in the Twentieth Century
Claire Zimmerman
University of Minnesota Press, 2014

Claire Zimmerman reveals how photography profoundly influenced architectural design in the past century, playing an instrumental role in the evolution of modern architecture. Her “picture anthropology” demonstrates how buildings changed irrevocably and substantially through their interaction with photography, beginning with the emergence of mass-printed photographically illustrated texts in Germany before World War II and concluding with the postwar age of commercial advertising. In taking up “photographic architecture,” Zimmerman considers two interconnected topics: first, architectural photography and its circulation; and second, the impact of photography on architectural design. She describes how architectural photographic protocols developed in Germany in the early twentieth century, expanded significantly in the wartime and postwar diaspora, and accelerated dramatically with the advent of postmodernism.

Broadcasting Buildings. Architecture on the Wireless, 1927-1945
Shundana Yusaf 
The MIT Press, 2014

In the years between the world wars, millions of people heard the world through a box on the dresser. In Britain, radio listeners relied on the British Broadcasting Corporation for information on everything from interior decoration to Hitler’s rise to power. One subject covered regularly on the wireless was architecture and the built environment. Between 1927 and 1945, the BBC aired more than six hundred programs on this topic, published a similar number of articles in its magazine, The Listener, and sponsored several traveling exhibitions. In this book, Shundana Yusaf examines the ways that broadcasting placed architecture at the heart of debates on democracy.

Based in a worldwide research of the 1950-70s Brutalist buildings, Ruth Verde Zein’s book proposes a refreshed view on the ‘Brutalist Connections’, beyond the beaten tracks. While considering the canonical contributions, she undermines frozen stereotypes and opens up new paths, contributing to a broad contemporary revision of the subject. There are other surprises inside this compact book. In one flap, a booklet with a sharp-witted critical text on Brutalism and what it stands for, enriched by a most interesting foreword by Réjean Legault, highlighting the book’s unique contribution. In the other flap, a bonus: half a dozen beautifully designed and exquisitely printed posters, interpreting Ruth Verde Zein’s studies and conceptual propositions in a visual communicative way.

Detlef Mertins
Phaidon, 2014

The purity of his Mies's architecture is almost surprising in light the diversity of his interests. An auto-didact, Mies studied philosophy and science as well as design. Author Detlef Mertins, spent over ten years researching and writing this comprehensive monograph. In addition to traveling to see the buildings and reading nearly everything written by and about Mies, Mertins also conducted a detailed study of the architectural, philosophical and scientific literature in Mies's own library. The result is a lucid text that not only gives the reader detailed insight into all of Mies's work, but which also explores the variety of ideas that influenced this exceptional figure. The scholarship is rigorous, but the accessible writing and the highly visual, project-by-project presentation also invites those readers who possess an interest in the topic, but who lack detailed knowledge in it. 

The Design of Scarcity
Jon Goodbun, Michael Klein, Andreas Rumpfhuber, Jeremy Till
Strelka Press, 2014

As growth was the defining condition of the 20th century, so scarcity is set to define the 21st. Already it pervades political discourse and shapes our reading of the economy and the environment. But scarcity is not just the inevitable result of growth and resource exploitation. Scarcity is constructed daily through the creation of desire, it is designed. The authors of this timely essay set out to establish a more sophisticated understanding of scarcity.  The message for architects and designers – experts in working with constraints – is that scarcity is a process, and one that can be productive. This essay asks us to throw out our simplistic Malthusian graphs and escape the stranglehold that scarcity has on our imaginations.

Fotografía y arquitectura moderna en España, 1925-1965
Iñaki Bergera (ed.)
Fundación ICO - La Fábrica, 2014

Un libro que presenta, por primera vez y de forma explícita, un acercamiento al papel de la fotografía en la modernidad arquitectónica española: desde la irrupción de las vanguardias a mediados de la década de 1920 hasta la crisis del Estilo Internacional a finales de la década 1960. Como ocurrió en el contexto internacional, también en España se produjo un flujo intenso de trabajo y cooperación entre fotógrafos, arquitectos y medios de comunicación que contribuyó a poner en valor la mirada de los primeros. Junto a los más conocidos y prolíficos como Català-Roca, Kindel, Pando o Gómez, el libro presenta el trabajo de cerca de cuarenta profesionales que retrataron la arquitectura española de la modernidad.

Rem Koolhaas
Marsilio Editori, 2014

Architecture is a strange mixture of persistence and flux, an amalgamation of elements -some that have been around for over 5,000 years and others that were (re)invented yesterday. The fact that these elements change independently of each other, according to different cycles and economies, and for different reasons, turns each building into a complex collage of the archaic and the current, the site-specific and the standard, mechanical smoothness and the spontaneous. Only by looking at the elements under a wide lens can we recognize the cultural preferences, forgotten symbolism, technological advances, mutations triggered by intensifying global exchange, climatic adaptations, political calculations, regulatory requirements, new digital regimes, and, somewhere in the mix - the ideas of the architect that constitute the practice of architecture today.

Playgrounds. Reinventar la plaza
Manuel Borja-Villel, Teresa Velázquez, Tamara Díaz Bringas (ed.)
Ediciones Siruela, 2014

La idea de «área de juego en descampado» –propuesta por el arquitecto danés Carl Theodor Sørensen en 1935– y la de «parque infantil de aventuras» –impulsada por la arquitecta paisajista Lady Allen of Hurtwood en Londres, y difundida a varias ciudades europeas después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial– sirven para recuperar y significar terrenos residuales o zonas bombardeadas como espacios de juego destinados a la autonomía infantil. En los años sesenta, el niño es reivindicado como sujeto político autónomo, en un contexto dominado por el reclamo del derecho a la ciudad y coincidiendo con el momento álgido de la revuelta del homo ludens –retomando el ensayo homónimo de Johan Huizinga– en torno a Mayo del 68. Los movimientos de 2011 diseminados por plazas, calles y barrios devolvieron a esos espacios su dimensión pública y democrática.

Arquitecturas del devenir
Fernando Quesada
Ediciones Asimétricas, 2014

En los discursos filosóficos la idea del devenir ha sido objeto de estudio y fuente de inspiración para diversos autores. En el ámbito de la arquitectura, que es una disciplina con enormes posibilidades transformadoras de lo real, no ha sido sin embargo tan habitual un discurso del devenir. Cuando ha aparecido, se ha tendido a presentar un posible devenir arquitectónico como un proceso positivo meramente adaptativo, o bien se ha hecho en el plano estructural desde una valoración negativa. Esta colección de ensayos pretende indagar en una posible tercera vía, que solamente aparece a partir de las anteriores que necesariamente deben precederla, al introducir difusamente un aparato crítico que solo muy recientemente los discursos arquitectónicos han ido incorporando desde las artes escénicas: la categoría de lo performativo.