“For an entire generation of architects who studied in the 1990s, there is a stage from which it is not possible”.
Thus opens the press release ofSan Marino Institute for Diffusion of Architecture, who adds: “For that generation, but to tell the truth for many others, in a shock of pure temporal data, the redevelopment of the entire metropolitan area of Barcelona represented an overall rethinking of the design approaches to the city, the territory and background to the architecture itself. The architect Oriol Bohigas, who died at the age of 95 on 30 November last (he was born on 20 December 1925), was certainly one of the most important operative minds in the transformation of the Catalan capital. Bohigas directed his commitment by touching the nerve strings of the city by playing the role of the critic (Rebuilding Barcelona of 1985 and Spanish architecture of the second republic); of the historian (among others, the beautiful book of 1968 Modernist architecture. Gaudi and the Catalan movement); of the polemic reporter (the numerous articles written for the press); of the architect attentive to the values of the city and of the urban planner attentive to the characteristics of architecture; publisher (with the publishing house Editions 62); the cultural animator (for example directing the Joan Mirò Foundation); of the pedagogue (as university professor and dean of the ETSAB) and finally of the politician.
Bohigas has “simply” been an architect, a profession born in the name of technical-scientific and historical-humanistic skills. of their time. A concentration of knowledge, those of the architect, which do not present themselves as the indistinct accumulation of a generic and erudite salottiero but, on the contrary, as a director able to synthesize, in his own vision, the panoramic breadth of his gaze. It is therefore inevitable for the intellectual / architect Bohigas to also engage in the public arena of polis: directing its fate as town planning superintendent, and then to culture, alongside the mayors of the post-Francoist democratic turn; and then prefiguring the design with the assignments for the Olympic city and the reopening of the city by the sea.
Bohigas was, in the best of the traditions of the discipline, an architect of the city, in particular of his city. And it is precisely this characteristic that has allowed him to place the urban intervention in a dimension of “polite urbanity” (Solà-Morales) interested in compensating the architectural project for its prerogatives of modification and enhancement of the city itself. An instrumental realism, it was said, played against the ideology of the piano, which engaged the best Spanish and city talents, at the time mostly young and semi-unknown designers, without resorting to the names of the star system (which will arrive only later). The Barcelona to which Bohigas focuses on the suburbs considering the metropolitan area, dedicates itself to redevelopment by mending old tears of the urban fabric by eliminating cumbersome physical barriers, polarizing the area on infrastructures by inventing types of connections between these and the public space . And it is above all Barcelona that completely rethinks the dimension of open spaces (squares, gardens, parks, but also roads, paths, panoramic points and places of relationship) with which a real urban “model” is coined that will be exported with alternative luck.
In the autumn of 1997 the DARCH of San Marino in collaboration with the ACMA of Milan, mindful of the success obtained with the Alvaro Siza exhibition two years earlier, brought the anthology dedicated to the study that Catalan architect shared with Josep Martorell and David Mackay from the mid-1950s. The exhibition was the complete summa of the forty-year work of MBM (Martorell-Bohigas-Mackey). Italian works were also in it, for the first time, they were exhibited organically. Even in the Italian works, architecture became a means for the redevelopment of parts of the city, at times severely degraded. Along the eighteenth-century corridor and inside the cells of the former convent, now home to the University of Design, the exhibition unfolded in five stages in the form of a “dialogue” with visitors: a “Chronological Path” of the entire research of the study, which reviewed the design experience from rationalism to modern eclecticism to critical regionalism (Frampton); the “Dialogues with the Society”, ie public buildings and the relationship between block and home; the “Dialogues with Construction”; the “Dialogues with the Environment”. In the exhibition it was once again clear how architecture becomes the cornerstone for the redevelopment of the city.
With this memory, DARCH wants to pay homage to a great protagonist of modern-day architecture, with whom the members had the honor of spending important moments on the occasion of the exhibition just mentioned, together with his friends and colleagues of all time: Josep Martorell, who died in 2017, David Mackay, who disappeared in 2014, and the architect Beth Galì. Finally, DARCH wishes to offer condolences to his daughter Maria, with whom the members of the association engaged in prolific and exciting discussions during the days of setting up and organizing the event.