Ricardo Bofill dies, architect of the counterculture and the 'Jet Set'

A thousand times admired and a thousand times criticized, the life of Ricardo Bofill Levi would be validated to tell all the paradoxes of the human condition, o

Ricardo Bofill dies, architect of the counterculture and the 'Jet Set'

A thousand times admired and a thousand times criticized, the life of Ricardo Bofill Levi would be validated to tell all the paradoxes of the human condition, of the office of architect and the history of Spain after the civil war. Today, the Barcelona architect has died at 82 years as the First World Star who had the trade of him in our country, such as the first character of the Jet Set, as the most picturesque of all colleagues of him. After the life of him, how not to see everything with sympathy.

Very in summary: the great paradox of Ricardo Bofill's career is that it began in fully transgressing positions but that, along the way, became a faithful ally of the powers, in abstract and specifically, of economic and politicians. Like all architects but a little more. The interesting thing is that this trip serves to explain part of our world.

Handsome, elitist and ezmple education, perfect son of the Barcelona bourgeoisie, Ricardo Bofill was born at the moment and in the right place (Barcelona, 1939) to be a kind of older brother of Spanish counterculture. He was, among other things, a Frenchman who was the age and social class of the stars of 68 and who, also enjoyed a cream intelligence to interpret the spirit of the moment.

And that, for an architect of his generation, basically meant to refute the rationalist architecture of the first half of the twentieth century. I was not alone Bofill in that cause. In Madrid, the colleague of him Fernando Higueras, nine years older than him, also worked to knock down Le Corbusier's legacy and company, just as Oriol Bohigas did in the city. The difference is that the refutation of figueras consisted in building with a brutal and sculptural language and that of Bohigas closer to the scale of the person the decisions of the architecture, the Bofill approach was festive, pop, carnavalesco, perhaps lisergic.

An example can explain that idea better than a thousand arguments: the traveler who arrives in Barcelona for the A2 will see, on the left, like a brick mole in the distance, the Walden Building of Sant Just Desven. By far, Walden may seem like a brutalist monstrite left out of the nuclear age (it was built in 1968). About close, it's the opposite and that's why he's named the novel by Henry David Thoreau.

The Walden is, in summary, the opposite of the Habitar machine by Le Corbusier. It is like an Arabic souk, made of irregular tours, of deliberately confusing spaces and built with simple finishes, but involved inside the housing of a great promotion of homes. In the marketment of him was also a more or less utopian proposal of a new way of inhabiting. Of the neighbors of Walden, he expected to live more in community than in privacy. The apartments are small and unconventional in their programs, but their common spaces were designed to, how to say it? To live in the aquarium era.

The Walden Utopia was not well, as it happens with all utopias. The communal coexistence of the neighbors gave many problems and the construction of the building was deficient, which led to a long judicial fight. The Hippie tenants of 1968 became, over the years, in families of outpatient owners for having to manage with such a unique space. The funny thing is that time has given you a part of reason to Bofill: What are cowsing but adaptations to the world of turbocapitalism of those ideas of community?

They gave the problems equally: Bofill became a hero of the moment, a representative of the new world that was going to end the carnish, including the Oíza, Carvajal and Coderch, including all the riots of modernity that the Spain who had won the war was looking for In architecture. Bofill was in another world: He went to Bocaccio, was the hard core of the Gauche Divine, he left with Serena Vergan and knew how to have fun and go out into the world. He read venturi and Scott Brown and Aldo Rossi and the other postmodernism theorists and loved the French. He had a sense of autoparody that did never know if he was seriously or jokingly. To the study of him called him workshop and he was counted that he worked as a court of philosophers, poets and artists. It is likely that it was a joke invented by Bofill itself.

Because Bofill worked a lot in the next 10 years. In the 1970s, Barcelona went from being a hippie architect to be an order historicist, to take a path that time has considered conservative. Very in summary: the eagerness to make a less abstract, more human architecture and pleasant to its users, more pop, led many architects as Bofill to throw the rest in the composition, in scenography and monumentality. If people like buildings to Roman, why not give pantheons adapted to the twentieth century with a drop of irony.

To politicians, of course, that historicist language loved them. Above all, the French. Many pages have been written about the relationship with the architecture of François Mitterrand, the President of the Republic who looked himself as a pharaoh. For such a system, convinced of the greatness of him and determined to transmit it for posterity, an architect like Bofill was perfect. In 1978, the workshop of him opened office in Paris. Mitterrand won his first presidential two years later.

Les Temples du Lac, in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, Les Espaces d'Abraxas, in Paris or the Montpellier Antigone, the great Bofill projects in France of that time, are all a mix of Versailles and Banlieus of middle class. BUILDINGS OF HARMS Classic orders, spaces that look like pictures of Piero della Francesca, images at the limit of the kitsch, it is not known if by mistake or for pleasure ... The French architecture of Bofill does not have much to do with the discussion of the current architecture , but it is still fascinating.

For that time, Bofill was already a character disdained by many of his generation companions, a kind of angel fallen from research and architectural rebellion. Soon, the historicist architecture caused fatigue just as the public character of him, who seemed like a mixture of porphyrio Rubirosa and an Agnelli, and, in addition, related during a time with Julio Iglesias. Bofill did not know how to reinvent himself as an architect, among other things, because he did not need it. He never missed good commissions, such as the United Airlines Tower in Chicago, the expansion of the Prat Airport and the National Teatre in Catalonia in the city or the headquarters of Cartier in its other city, Paris. Before the architects existed, Bofill had already taken a few turns to the world with his character and his projects.

As the years passed and the competitive impetus, Bofill, as many architects, found a refuge in the materal: in landscaping, in the sculptural work of raw materials ... despite a thousand contradictions, he must have lived a full life. The two sons of him, Ricardo Emilio and Paul, continue at the forefront of him.

Updated Date: 14 January 2022, 10:52

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