It would seem that the following generation insists on assassinating the father (Freud dixit), while we must wait for the next one to rediscover him. By all means, the group of young men who appeared at my studio one morning could almost have been my grandsons. They came with a magazine of the kind that today is in fashion: small, with many pages, super matte paper, lots of photos with a casual or improvised air, frontal illumination, no shadows, as if taken with flash. A magazine that looked like it had been edited in New York, written all in English, and absolutely cosmopolitan. To my astonishment, it turned out that the magazine was called Apartamento, it was edited in Barcelona, and my visitors, who were responsible for the architecture section, were interested in featuring the house that I’d designed in Pantelleria with Lluís Clotet some 45 years earlier.
This opportunity allowed me to discover the notable publication and its young contributing editors: leaders of a studio so punctilious that in the middle of summer they forbid their employees from wearing shorts; people who were extremely pleasant, well informed, and who appeared to be sincerely interested in our work. I admit that I was not familiar with theirs. But several months later they invited me for a drink to celebrate one of their projects, which had been selected as a finalist for the Mies van der Rohe Emerging Architect prize. The informality of the celebrations at Il Giardinetto seemed nice for such an occasion, and so I showed up. The place was bursting with young people (I must have been the oldest by a margin of 40 years). People were in high spirits because they’d already heard that the modest renovation in Extremadura (that had not been selected by the jury of the Iberian FAD Awards for Architecture) had been named the winner—as the most notable work in Europe. I congratulated the lovely owner, who had come expressly for the celebration (I always insist that it’s impossible to design a great work without a great client). And when I carefully observed the photos of the house, or two half-houses, I had the satisfaction of discovering the talent of its authors.
My teacher Federico Correa, in whose studio I worked throughout my degree, always recommended to his students that we not prolong our academic studies, that we not insist on doing a master’s at our university or, less still, at Harvard; that as soon as we graduate we get involved in real projects, as modest as they may be: renovations of houses, offices, shops; that there was no better school than the process of resolving real problems. Following also the maxim of Confucius—‘I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand’—we took heed of this advice, and it would seem that the members of Arquitectura-G (perhaps forced by the crisis that devastated our profession as they were graduating) heard it too. Even though the studio has designed other interesting projects, everything that has been chosen for this beautiful book is either an extension or renovation; there is not one sole project that doesn’t rest on something existing, whether it be of historical, uncommon, or industrial interest, or of no interest at all. Ultimately, the dialogue between the diversity of the pre-existing and the surprisingly singular language of a team formed by so many architects, who are all actively designing, is where the beauty is born.
Oscar Tusquets Blanca, January 2019, from Nineteen Interventions: Arquitectura-G