Today, the exhibition ‘Fernando Higueras. From the roots’ has been inaugurated at the ICO Museum, organized by the ICO Foundation in collaboration with the General Directorate of Architecture, Housing and Land of the Ministry of Public Works.
“Fernando Higueras. From the roots”
28 February – 19 May, 2019
ICO Foundation Museum
C/ Zorrilla, 3 Madrid
Fernando Higueras belongs to a generation of Madrid architects who were aware of participating in a renewed process of Spanish architecture, did not recognize limits to their architectural activity and lacked the historical memory of the generation that had drawn up the proposals of the Regime in the 40s It is a true generational change marked by the new needs for the opening of the Regime and by the attempts of the cultural sector to reform positions in the context of a political process without expectations of change.
One aspect shared by the architects centered around the School of Madrid is the high degree of pragmatism, which could be described as realism. The defendants of the reconstruction, the proposals of colonization of new territories and, in general, the national reorganization, had concentrated in Madrid organisms and activities programmed for large-scale actions.
At that time there is an interest in popular architecture in Spain that in Higueras translates into interest in the relationship between nature and architecture, an approach that would allow you to relate primitive, essential, timeless categories. “I have learned a lot from anonymous popular architecture, since it is an endless source of lessons. I have always appreciated in this naturalness, adequacy, order and functionality, logic, economics, as well as discipline and diversity combined and harmonized at a level that I hardly find in contemporary architecture, “affirmed Higueras.
In 1960, Fernando Higueras carried out the first work with the concept of housing, competing for the National Architecture Prize under the theme Ten residences of artists on the Mount of El Pardo. This work was published in multiple journals, both national and international. The houses of artists soon became one of the fundamental constants of his work. The architecture to inhabit will respond to reasons of economy of material resources, of execution costs and deadlines, but it will always be impregnated with aspects related to well-being, with the most elementary pleasurable sensations, and also with the world of the dreams of its clients: from the house of César Manrique, through those of Lucio Muñoz, the guitarist Andrés Segovia, La Macarrona, Nuria Espert or his own underground house, a maternal terrestrial cloister illuminated overhead that he would call the “rascainfiernos”.
In 1961 he won the National Architecture Prize with his project for the Artistic Restoration Center, ‘La Corona de Espinas’, in the University City of Madrid, in collaboration with Rafael Moneo and Luis Roig d’Alós. A definitive work in its trajectory will be the construction of the Study School in Aravaca (1962), from where all the invariants of later architectures leave. In this school he begins to develop his furniture design and interior design proposals, which he will continue to expand throughout his work.
The most moving intervention of Higueras in this stage is the housing for the Neighborhood Unit of Absorption in Hortaleza (1963), a characteristic exponent of the public action in the matter of housing of first necessity. The project of housing for the Patronato de Casas Militares (1967-1975) in the Glorieta de Ruíz Jiménez in Madrid is a particular case of the architecture approach to live. The original block was transformed into a peculiar modality of urban proposal in which all the requirements were met: public facades for open roads, connection of traffic and parking uses, interior traffic and landscaped area.
In 1963 he was commissioned for an Urban Planning and Development Plan in Playa Blanca, in the south of Lanzarote. He travels to the island with César Manrique and finds a wealth of natural elements for the development of his work that fill him with enthusiasm: La Geria, with its picon and the green of the vine, black beaches, lunar landscape full of volcanoes, color of the waters, etc. His proposal of absolute respect for the environment translates into no intervention in the landscape. Later he would make his plans for the City of the Seagulls in the Risco de Famara and Montaña Bermeja and the masterpiece of the Hotel Las Salinas in Lanzarote, tourist reference of architecture at the edge of the sea.
His work on the island and on the Costa del Sol would have a great media impact and would influence the architectural plastic of the moment inside and outside our country. In addition, in 1969 he was invited by the Principality of Monaco to the restricted international contest of a polyvalent building in Monte Carlo.
In 2001 the great study of the avenue of America, 14, is undone and he moves it to his house, the now famous “rascainfiernos”. They are years of creativity with projects as bold as their proposal for the Zero Zone of New York or the Horizontal Skyscraper for Shanghai. In 2007, Fernando Higueras is the foundation that bears his name and since then keeps his presence alive.