Juan Navarro Baldeweg _ TRANSLATED

“Variaciones sobre lo antecendente”
Under this title, that would be translated as “variations about preexistence”, ETSAM’s /Escuela Técnica Super de Arquitectura de Madrid/ Studio professor has shared as the opening of the 2013-2014 academic year in ETSAB /Escuela Técnica Super de Arquitectura de Barcelona/.
A lecture stared by the constant noise os student coming in and out, as usually happens, and the peaceful voice of Juan Navaro, whose voice has finally risen towards the end of the session.
I must confess I knew little about the work of this architect/painter/sculptor/critic and, what we have been presented was characterized by a very international style but being able to still capture that devotion for details and a very human scale.

Juan Navarro Baldeweg. Bilbioteca Hertziana 1996
The two projects that were explained were the Hertzian Library in Rome (1996) and the Kunsthal Kade in Amsterdam (2002). Both with a very interesting use of glass, the first one hidden in the inner courtyard, whereas the second one was the main façade.
Juan Navarro Baldeweg. Kunthal Kade. 2002
Despite having explains the project in the most conventional way possible, what was really interesting to me and allowed the lecture to have a more personal atmosphere was his thoughts about the sites. No need for recent pictures or site plans of the site, Juan Navarro Baldeweg likes for painting and historical plans that allow him to perceive a more personal feeling and tell him what the site needs, obviously without loosing sight of what the building functionally is.
What those artists thought it was important enough to point out in a painting and of the historic growth of the city, Baldeweg understands toward what must the project aim. Something that, in my honest opinion, it might sometimes be a little too exagerated and might fall into just extensive explanations of the site and not generative project information.

Thankfully for me (I have a very negative opinion toward this particular subject in my school which might end up in the craziness of some students of generating thousand of useless site plans) I have been able to see first hand, and after having Baldeweg talked about a huge amount of site plans, how he learned from those to apply them to the library in Rome. How the entrance is followed by a patio, the progression of different levels trying to copy how terraces where organized hundreds of years ago, and the rejection of axiality, so typically present in Roman architecture.


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