Still Nurbing Along

DSCF6014

DSCF6001Enric Ruiz Geli’s Villa Nurbs is still incomplete after 13 years. The good news is, however, that it does not appear to be an abandoned construction site, as I had previously suspected in an entry to this blog posted over three years ago, the last time I had the pleasure of visiting the charming resort of Empuriabrava. Still, there has been very little apparent progress during the last three years. The construction hoarding is a little rustier, a palm tree on the property has died (probably the victim of a bug infestation that is killing date palms all over Spain), and the solid concrete front door (why make a door out of concrete?) is now in the closed position. But looking closely (as closely as the hoarding permits), some differences are visible: the patio is now seemingly enclosed with glass panels (that curve in both plan and section), the translucent EFTE roof has been replaced with white fiberglass domes, and some Corian panels that were missing three years ago have been replaced (they’re the panels that are whiter than the rest).

Which reminds me: I owe Ruiz Geli an apology. I mistakenly mentioned in my ‘Reality Check: Spain’ piece written for Mark Magazine #50 last year that the Corian panels were CNC milled, a wasteful process, when in fact I read in the meantime that they’re heat-bent, which of course produces little if any waste. Perdona’m, Enric.

But the essential question remains the same: why make a house that is so complicated and expensive? Is there a technological discovery being made that’s going to forever change the way we build? I sure hope so, and look forward to the results in that case. In the meantime, however, we might ask ourselves: why does this futuristic house, begun in the 2000s, look so similar to futuristic houses of the 1950s and 60s as imagined in the pages of Popular Mechanics magazine? Surely our idea of ‘the future’ has changed in the last six decades. Does anyone still believe that one day, we’ll all live like The Jetsons? Judging by the way things are going, isn’t Wall-E a much more up-to-date and likely projection of the way we’ll live in the future?

I do look forward to returning to the site when it’s finished. Perhaps then, I’ll be able to report to you live from my auto-piloted flying bicycle.

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 teach at CIEE, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

One comment

  1. motenswing

    Great post, “algú ho havia de dir”. After all these years, this house (is it?) is neither an icon nor any of the great things that were said and written about it. It’s simply a rip-off, another “timo” just like his Media-tic.

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