Daniel Libeskind, utopianist

[publicado originalmente en la sección de cartas de El País Semanal. Originally published in the letters to the editor section of El País Semanal. English translation follows.]

Cuando el arquitecto Daniel Libeskind dice “no pienso en el conjunto de la ciudad” porque “mi interés se centra en lograr edificios expresivos”, no me sorprende nada: la arrogancia estilo Bush-Rumsfeld está ya muy de moda en la arquitectura internacional desde hace años. Pero lo que sí me sorprende es cuando un arquitecto se declara ajeno a las utopías del urbanismo cuando sólo se le ha preguntado si “se inspira para crear una ciudad mejor”, algo que tiene poco que ver con la creacion de una ciudad ideal. Las utopías urbanas fueron motivadas por la búsqueda de un nuevo orden social y, por tanto, han sido casi siempre proyectadas como ciudades nuevas ex nihilo, lejos de ciudades historicas. Mejorar la ciudad que existía era precisamente lo contrario de lo que pretendían los utopistas, que estaban en el fondo contra la ciudad. Parece que Libeskind es mas utopista de lo que cree.

English translation:
When Daniel Libeskind’s states “I do not think about the urban ensemble” because “I am interested in realizing buildings that are expressive”, I am not in the least surprised: a Bush-Rumsfeld kind of arrogance has been in fashion in international architecture for years. But what does surprise me is his statement against urban utopias, when the question that was put to him in the interview was only if he “is inspired to create a better city”, something that has little to do with the creation of an ideal city. Urban utopias were motivated by the search for a new social order and were almost always planned as new towns ex nihilo, far away from historical cities. Bettering existing cities was precisely not what utopians set out to do, as they were profoundly opposed to the existing city. Seems Libeskind may be more of a utopian than he thinks.

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture, CIEE Architecture and Design program, as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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