Avoid the Void

Centro Lorca Pedro Pegenaute

Centro Federico García Lorca, Granada. Photo: Pedro Pegenaute

In recent decades, architecture commemorating violent death has typically relied on a dark, austere and markedly empty space to symbolize absence: the cathartic ‘void space’. For the Federico García Lorca Cultural Centre in Granada, however, architecture studio MX_SI, faced with a site bordered almost entirely by the backs of historical buildings, opted for a complex that is daylight-filled, open and inviting. A statement by the young Barcelona-based architects from Mexico and Slovenia explains their treatment of the 10 linear meters of exterior exposure they had to work with: ‘We introduced light through the roof and made a continuous space by blending the centre’s foyer with the plaza in front.’

Federico García Lorca was a Granadino poet, dramatist and musician who died in the summer of 1936, shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, at the age of 38. He was killed by Francoist fascists. The exact location of Lorca’s remains is a mystery to this day, despite attempts to unearth them (including one by a drunken Joe Strummer in 1984). The cultural centre honouring Lorca’s legacy houses a range of functions: auditorium, gallery, library, archive and an almost seamless plaza-foyer that features a bar-café. Seen from Plaza Romanilla, adjacent to the Granada Cathedral, the building is nearly invisible, apart from its enormous funnel-shaped portico. The funnel effect is the result of a series of deep concrete structural slabs with varying angular folds that filter and diffuse the zenithal light.

Lorca, who was executed for his openly liberal views and homosexual identity, would undoubtedly prefer to be remembered in just such a positive light.

[originally published in Mark Magazine #60]

croquis_gradación2005

Urban-scale gradation. Drawing: MX_SI

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.

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