The starting point for Grafting Architecture is the restoration of Casa Bofarull (1913-1933), one of the key works of Josep Maria Jujol (1879-1949). In this Tarragonan architect’s way of working we can identify an attitude that can be traced through many projects built in the last century, one which is based on an intensive dialogue with preexisting features (physical or otherwise) that enable a project including and blending new and existing elements to be developed, just as cuttings are grafted to a tree.
Over the course of two decades and long interruptions, Jujol sketched and directed the construction of the architectural solutions that would distinguish Casa Bofarull. Project, construction and use are combined to materialize an architecture generated in equal part by the architect’s personal universe and the stimuli and suggestions offered him by the Camp de Tarragona region.
Today we find this process well documented thanks to the collection of over one hundred drawings preserved in the Arxiu Jujol. They span a chronological arc that begins with one of the first sketches showing the former state of the house in 1913, probably drawn over the summer he met with the Bofarull sisters, and concludes with the last drawings identifying the flooring solutions Jujol would employ in the house’s foyer in 1933.
The guiding thread of the proposal is the description of the different projects through the architectural PROCESS and the subsequent PERCEPTION of the resulting building. These projects are understood on their own, through their uniqueness, and not as architecture that forms part of a movement.
Arquitectures Empeltades / Grafting Architecture
21 May, 2015 – to 31 August, 2015
15:00 – 19:30
Fabra i Coats -Centre d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
c/ Sant Adrià, 20. 08030 Barcelona
Grafting is a process that involves inserting part of a tree with one or more buds into the branch or trunk of another tree such that a permanent union is established between the two, in the same way as the viticulturist who grafts a scion from the desired grape variety onto the rootstock and where the subsequent grape quality and the excellence of the resulting wine stem from correct union between scion and rootstock.
In architecture we can identify a number of processes that bear a great similarity to this botanical process. Preexisting structures, physical or otherwise, are grafted with the new proposal, generating a building that brings together and harmoniously fuses the characteristics of what already exists and what is new. We can find this grafted architecture across the centuries in a great many examples. However it is in the last quarter of the 20th century and the early 21st century where we find a great number of projects in Catalan architecture in which proposals of different types and scales achieve brilliant results.
Grafting transmits the idea of a new organism that combines the strong points of its original components and is more vigorous than either of them on their own, an idea of renewal and growth. Grafting Architecture speaks of a contemporary attitude shared over time by many projects and many architects wherein each building is understood from within itself, through its uniqueness, and noticeably enriches the place where it is located.
The restoration of Casa Bofarull symbolizes a certain timeless way of approaching things found in different examples of Catalan architecture. Jujol does not relate to the buildings by undertaking taxidermic restorations, historicist interventions or additive reforms; he transforms the structures into something new but at once recognizable. He inserts a new layer into what exists, like a kind of fusion in which different periods and different ways of living are stratified and overlap and wherein it is impossible to separate the parts from the whole. It is an architecture removed from the isolated, self-absorbed and pure object and one which is the reflection of the architect’s personal universe and the stimuli of the environment where the building stands.
This building allows us to explore an architectural attitude that is timeless and one in which it is accompanied by various projects spanning a century of Catalan architecture. All of these examples work with preexisting constructions and are the result of layering concepts in which traditional materials are reinterpreted, and they are inserted in the territory, engaging in dialogue. They are complex and enriching projects that add a temporary milestone to the place where they are built, and they cannot be understood without their surrounds, making it impossible to separate the parts from the whole. A rich local-universal synthesis is seen as the driving force of the project, where the world is reinterpreted from one of its corners: projects on the slow burner and reflection that continue a long-standing architectural tradition.
The selection of projects allows us to show how these attitudes are adapted to different scales and types that range from a small apartment or a chapel to the regeneration of a metropolitan landfill, metro stations and neighborhoods in a city devastated by war. They also allow us to grasp that this attitude is intergenerational, shared by architects of varying ages who have experienced and enriched the debate forever.
Most of the projects selected are from the 20th century and are therefore vibrant proof of the vitality of this way of approaching things. It is also interesting to see that this attitude is one of the hallmarks of Catalan architecture, and Catalonia is one of the places where it has been developed with the most vitality and diversity.
The projects selected are presented through the process each architect followed in the phases of drafting and constructing the building. They are unique processes allowing us to see firsthand how analysis and decision-making develop through sketches, diagrams, drawings, photos, models, texts and more. Each project must be self-explanatory, making use of all available resources.
News source: Fabra i Coats