Remarks about contemporary architecture and the relationship between the old and the new
Amongst the complexities of modern architecture, I have been primarily concerned with public buildings and public space. I have worked in many patrimonial sites and have, therefore, been confronted with fundamental problems in contemporary architecture, i.e., the relationship between the old and the new. Many people believe that introducing modern buildings in an ancient site is dangerous or even impossible. In my opinion, however, building in an historic site without a contemporary frame of thought is irresponsible. All sites are living entities, which is why they should not become museums of times past or parodies.
*The Madrid-based architect Jose Ignacio Linazasoro pronounced the 12th annual Inaugural Lecture at the Ecole de Chaillot, Paris, on February 2nd, 2016.
In order to successfully carry out a project in historic surroundings, one is obliged to find the precise tools as well as the knowledge and sensitivity specific to the architecture as a whole, not just to ancient architecture.
In my projects, I have attempted to use the tools intelligently to achieve the proper scale and, most important, the correct proportions and materialization. When I began the Convention Center in Troves, a project situated in the historic center of a well-preserved old town, I studied the private houses and gothic churches to determine the proportions of the urban framework. At the same time, I reflected on references to modern architecture used by Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Lexerentz, and even some of my own realizations. I think I can ascertain that in Troyes, I introduced a fragment of contemporary architecture while respecting the scale and proportions of the old town.
In Reims, the public square that I redesigned in front of the cathedral now has better proportions, more in keeping with the original medieval design, thanks to the use of modern geometry.
The University Center and Library that I built in the Lavapiés neighborhood of Madrid, encompass the ruins of an old baroque Church destroyed during the Civil War in 1936. These remains have become a local landmark, so instead of rebuilding, I proposed to build around them, adding a new facade. The adjacent building is of a contemporary design but remains in keeping with the ruins by the use of hand-crafted bricks, the same as those of the old church.
To conclude, all my projects, whether or not in historic sites, strive for harmony between the old and the new in order to underline the continuity between past and present.
Jose Ignacio Linazasoro
traduction Cynthia Laserre de Vézéronce