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Catalan & Balearic Threads: hard materiality for a permeable architecture
Rowing: At an extraordinarily difficult juncture for architecture, a new generation of architects has emerged in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. They seek to navigate the turbulent waters of the present to find their path towards the future but all the while retain a complicit regard for the past.

VOGADORS is a clear commitment to the future presenting a selection of 9 works from some of the most outstanding young Catalan and Balearic architects, all of them with a shared sensibility. These works likewise illustrate a different way of going about things in response to the growing demand on the part of society for what is necessary for community life and at odds with more spectacular and showy architecture.

The exhibition documents a sober architecture that uses very simple materials but is of a tremendous technical and intellectual sophistication and includes a strong social and ethical component enabling skillful construction with mindful openness to the environment, people and life without abandoning the most abstract and visual sentimental values.

It is the architecture of a generation that seeks to return to traditional values of meaning and continuity.

An architecture that seeks to be above its creators in order to give weight back to the argument, as David Chipperfield says in a film metaphor.

An architecture that seeks to return to addressing social contingencies, sustainability as the only path to survival and also the economy of means from an ethical, technical and intellectual standpoint.

An architecture common to architects and inhabitants whose primary objective is once again one of ethics and social harmony.

Five focal points

The aim of the exhibition is to use recent novel architectural works and a set of historical precursors to illustrate an argument, opening a discussion that will build over time.

In grouping these architectural works together some commonalities in their approaches, processes and results emerge naturally, revealed by their nuances, contrasts and similarities.

Visitors to the exhibition will draw their own personal conclusions about the similarities marking this shared character, but some of these features might be:

1_Place and meaning

Respect for the material forerunners (geography, heritage, urban setting) and the immaterial ones (place, environment, retrospection) where it is located.   
An architectural work so intrinsically tied to a place that it would lose all meaning if moved somewhere else. Projects that eschew the spotlight and aim to adopt camouflaging strategies to blend in with their surrounds.
Local values are revindicated and aspire to become global.
With an affectionate regard for the countryside and all of the human values it exemplifies, making use of these values to imbue architecture with meaning.

2_Ethics and proximity

A social commitment to proximity to and respect for people.

These architectural works are created in collaboration with inhabitants with a view to making them personalized, usable and comfortable. Construction techniques are often chosen solely on the basis of the actual possibilities of the most straightforward technology available.
It is an architecture that avoids imposing its laws on those who live with them, seeking instead to understand them and respect them to build a suitable and comfortable living space like a tailored suit.

3_Permeable materiality

Use of materials from the existing structure and for building anew as fundamental tools for the direct expression of architecture.
An architecture that has meaning only while being built and experienced and which therefore avoids the dominant fiction of its own representation (drawings, images).
With a taste for returning to materials of the earth and fire, loaded with meaning and memory, permeable textures and fixtures which over time take on a patina of age and can senesce at the same pace as those who use them.
Materials that can be put in place naturally and the shunning of impermeable and synthetic techniques and materials that may plague the harmony of a setting with their insolence.
Using these familiar seasoned and venerable materials in a new way, taking advantage of everything we now know. Sometimes uniquely positioned, fully reorienting their expressive potential.

4_Research and criticism

An ability to experiment and innovate focused on the relationship between the material and people without intermediaries.
An architecture designed for persons who apply the promise of collective experience and the power of individual research for the benefit of people, producing settings of unvarnished sentiment that are understandable, sincere, intimate, of a necessary and beautiful frankness, deafened to the requirements of artifice, of what is visible and superfluous.
An experimental architecture, sometimes pushing the limits of what is considered legal, that poses a direct way to address the objectives of the project and its execution to achieve greater economic, energetic and social efficiency, doing away with protocols and extraneous factors.
A manifest architecture that goes beyond purely technical and formal research to incorporate criticism and expose normative and economic limits and as a result intermediation and redundancy.
An architecture of necessary experimentation, methodical and deliberate, that starts with small, rural interventions or with facilities which by virtue of their small scale or by virtue of being interventions on existing structures confer a special status of freedom in working with them, removed from the conventional, under the sole responsibility of the architects and occupants.

5_Essence and tradition

Voluntary restraint in formal approaches and considerable economy of resources.
It aims not to be opportunistic or fruit of the moment but instead to tie in with a way of understanding architecture with its lengthy tradition in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. The appropriate response is measured to the question framed with no showy intentions, and responsible and conscientious use is made of available resources.
An architecture that seeks to be essential in all in all senses of the word, to attain what is basic and indispensable and at the same time what is important and fundamental.
Buildings and spaces for living that are stark and bare, stripped of any unnecessary cladding that might interfere with the direct relationship between man and the material and as such between architecture and life.
Architectures seeking emotional connections between inhabitants and their surrounds, in the knowledge that there is no perception or emotion without memory and imagination.

These five points denote the construction of something more than a formal or aesthetic language; they are a coherent and sophisticated approach that shows a particular way of making and feeling architecture aimed at meeting the aspirations of contemporary sensibility and awareness.
This sensibility is growing in response to a constantly changing world that calls for architecture to have a coherent attitude towards its environmental and social surroundings as well as more judicious control of formal and economic resources. All in all it will spur a complete renewal of European architecture as we know it today.
A significant number of Catalan, Balearic and European architectural studies are engaged in this research, and this selection aims only to note the contributions made by Catalonia and the Balearic Islands to this international debate.

"He who forges ahead creating something new does so like a rower, moving forward but back-paddling, looking behind him, towards the past, towards what exists, so as to be able to reinvent its underpinnings."


Padrocinadors Diari Ara Roca LAMP Editorial Gustavo Gili Cooperativa d'Arquitectes Jordi Capell
Logos Biennal d’Arquitectura de Venècia Generalitat de Catalunya Govern de les Illes Balears
Institut Ramon Llull