A recent article in the London Guardian highlighted the difference between Spain and Italy’s architectural evolution over the last 30+ years.
Renaissances in architecture and design, occur when certain cultural and political fuses are lit; for a while these have gone out in Italy, although probably not forever. A week, as Harold Wilson once said, is a long time in politics (a very long time indeed in Italy) and anything can happen. In Spain, that fuse was lit when Franco died, and the cultural fireworks that have lit up Spanish towns and cities have yet to fall to Earth and into the mire of quixotic politics.
The article contains interesting facts like Franco’s personal dislike of Barcelona but basically celebrates Spain’s success at using design at many levels – from modest projects like a new school in a small town to huge urban renewals – to express the country’s new found democratic liberty and economic success.
The ultimate litmus test of good architecture is surely what it causes in the people who occupy, use and view the buildings in their daily lives. Build the right architecture and you end up with the desired process.
By way of reminding us that we now occupy two worlds, a virtual networked digital world as well as the bricks and mortar referred to above; Mitch Kapor co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explores the link between digital architecture and its role in renewing democratic process. A piece in BoingBoing summarises Kapor’s multi blog post titled ‘Politics is architecture and architecture is politics’.
Here are two shots from my series of trips to Barcelona in the 80s.