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natural light controlled by adjustable, motorized louvres mounted in the ceiling, together with high-efficiency, fluorescent lamps in the fibrous plaster ceilings. This combination avoids an atmosphere of interior cosiness. The external exhibition areas are endowed with their civic character by virtue of their geometry and texture; 'dressing' them appropriately in colourful local marble and sandstone creates a festive, joyful atmosphere which emphasizes the impression of everyday action having become, once again, acting.

A further contribution to the civic-theatrical character of the project was made by deliberately recycling architectural antecedents from known, strong civic successes of the past. Stirling, who had led a succession of contradictory architectural trends, is, in the Stuttgart museum, once more attuned to the emerging historicist mood of architecture of the 1970s. This project is without doubt the most extreme, and also his most successful example of the intensive exploitation of cannibalized fragments of antecedents from the past twenty years.

There have been many kinds of retrospective uses of past architecture: a variation on a theme' is what Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown have done at the Sainsbury Wing of London's National Gallery, employing as a motif the Corinthian column from the original Wilkins Gallery next door (pp. 272-75). There is an abundance of antecedents in recent buildings - citations, references, allusions or even collages. In some cases, as a result of cross references and semantic cross fertilization, meaning is blurred and the idea of meaningfulness in architecture is trivialized and debased. In other cases, however, different contexts are joined together to enhance the horizon of interpretation, thus enriching the meaning of a work: for example, the Banco de Espana headquarters by Clotet and Paricio (pp. 132-33). Stirling, in the Stuttgart gallery, has done precisely that. He has invented a new urban setting, rediscovering motifs and spatial structures in British. German and Italian buildings. It is noteworthy that he has done so with erudition and an implicit spirit of comic irony, not tragic heaviness.

(Above) Conceptual sketch

(Opposite) Detailed view of the exterior-the sculpture yard


Opposite, top to bottom) Gallery level plan; entrance level plan; sections

«Right) Exhibition space inside the gallery

But why this irony? To imply that every act repeats itself in history, once as tragedy and once as joke? Is he saying that the dream of restoring civic architecture and an urban society by reinventing 'the relation between stage and street' is chimerical? Or is it self-mockery, hinting at the silliness of the eclectic, nostalgic retro-fashion which emerged in architecture at the beginning of the 1970s -as it had in the post-May '68 adversary culture (a fashion which, to some extent, some of Stirling's ex-collaborators had helped to launch)? Claude Parent, the French modernist architect and critic, has taken this view, com menting that 'in Stuttgart. Stirling has built the tomb of post-modernism, no longer by criticisms without effect, but by giving a second look at the exemplary modern architecture liberated from the arid codifications of the 1950s-1960s, ready for adventures that will permit him to measure up to the past.'

There is. however, another possiole. parallel critical interpretation of the building's 'histori-cist' character - and from a certain point of view more convincing - which explains the undisputed sense of joy the gallery evokes.

This interpretation has to do more with the basic level of spatial cognition, and of design as an act of invention, which the gallery embodies. Accordingly, the project is seen as born from the fusion of two fundamental, formal spatial canons, the classical and the anti-classical. Like the 1838 Staatsgalerie, the extension is organized along the constraints of a classical tripartite division schema and a half-atrium spatial formula. Over this classically composed arrangement, and at the open side of the half-atrium, lie a crowd of architectural elements whose configuration is alien to the classical rules, a Niemeyer-type streamlined, double wall of curved glass in the foyer, an oblique Construc-tivist steel lattice canopy, curved zig-zag ramps, each element breaking, in its own way, the classical canon and collectively making up a counter-canon. The two systems, classical/ anti-classical, may be contradictory, but the historical confrontation creates a third canon, a meta-canon, that makes thinking in and about space more encompassing, and makes the world, according to Stirling's optimistic message, appear richer and more familiar.


(Gerona, Spain) 1982-85

The Banco de España headquarters is an exercise in urbanity. The entrance faces onto a small park, in a small street. As one moves clockwise towards the corner on the left, one soon realizes that this corner, and not the front, is the most important exposure of the building. At this awkward point, the site opens onto the Gran Via Jaime I, a major 19th-century avenue of the ensanche, or extension, of Gerona, with a vista stretching for several hundred metres. Clotet and Paricio's problem was how to be faithful to the real facade while avoiding the impression that the building was turning its back to the rest of the city. The remarkably simple cylindrical form was an agile solution to the dilemma. It allows the bank to present an all-round, continuous, genial facade to its surroundings and at the same time allows the avenue to preserve its character.

The building's elemental, rounded arcaded forms reveal clearly the influence of the architecture of Louis Kahn, who was himself inspired by Roman models. Kahn's style is perfectly attuned to the strong element of critical regionalism which is characteristic of Clotet and Paricio's work. Its indebtedness to the Roman tradition of large-scale brick con-structions, which still loom large in Iberian landscapes and cityscapes, is great. The Roman »heritage is apparent in the ancien aqueducts, in the amphitheatres and in the craftsmanship demonstrated in their use of brick. Spanish buildings of the 19th and 20ih centuries, most particularly the bull-rings, sc beloved by the Spaniards, also draw on these Roman precedents.

(Opposite, left and top right) Exterior view and detail of the facade

(Opposite, right centre and below) Ground floor plan and section

(This page) Views of the bank's interior

'Mat is most distinctive about the Banco de España building isthe extraordinary and incongruous metaphor which gives it its visual identity: a bank in bull-ring's clothing. It is the same kind of unexpected association, a Luis Buñuel kind of metaphor, revealing discrete elective affinities, as one finds in the Belvedere Georgina of 1972, of which Clotet was one of tnearchitects (pp. 54-55).

Superficially, the form of the building and its • mode of detailing have very little to do with its functional programme as one of the many branches around the world of the Banco de España, all of which have more or less similar organizational requirements. Within the framework of the critical regionalist movement, however, this seemingly arbitrary choice of form in terms of the building's function serves to create a necessary and desirable identification of place and community. In Clotet's words, this idiosyncratic-looking, anti-monumental monument', whimsically at odds with its institutional role as a bank, is far from being 'the product of nostalgia for a lost paradise that never existed'. On the contrary, the semantic dissonance it has set up is intended as a playfully subliminal means of reminding the viewer about our own origins and roots'.

Oswald Matthlas Ungers Architekt ARCHITECTURAL MUSEUM

(Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany) 1981-84


In this building within a building, Ungers succeeded in capturing the obsessive self-reflective preoccupations of post-modernism probably more than in any other project of its kind. The fact that this is a museum of architecture helps significantly in giving the impression that such preoccupations have found a natural home.

The Architectural Museum is located on the left bank of the River Main, a mainly 19th-century residential area occupied by villas which the city of Frankfurt planned to turn into an area of museums, the so-called Museum-ufer. Located inside a nondescript villa of the turn of the century whose interior has been gutted, the building consists of a simple four-storey structure painted white and constructed like a schema, a spatial, cognitive abstraction of a building.

The building within a building is one of the oldest themes in the history of architecture and is associated with archaic cosmological structures of macro-microcosm analogies. In the tradition of Christian architecture, it is often seen in the design of baldaquins. It is also encountered in the tradition of domestic architecture, especially in sleeping areas which are defined as a kind of building within a building with obvious erotic connotations. A recent current example is a project by Charles Moore who has imbedded inside his house (1960-62) at Orinda, California, two aedicu-/ae (small dwellings) which resembled not only each other but the house as a whole. Here the intention was to comment on the idea of place and architecture rather than make a statement about cosmology, or simply an associative, mood-inducing design. It is with this tendency of architecture reflecting on itself that Ungers' aedicu/a belongs.

Ungers had been concerned over a long period with the idea of the origins of architectural rules and architectural typology. Like Aldo Rossi (pp. 56-63), he had searched to identify generic structures to which architecture owes its development, what came to be known a 'morphological design method'. This led him to formulate the notion of what he called Ne* Abstraction in architecture. He hoped that this would 'revive basic concepts of space'.. J which as 'universal orders of abstraction repre sent a quality of permanence'.

Despite its abstraction and the careful avoidance of scenographic effects to givea dimension of time to the building and intro- j duce the historical dimension - an effector-which Moneo's museum (pp. 148-51) relies

Aldo Rossi Plan

(Opposite) Site plan and conceptual drawing for Ungers' Architectural Museum

(Above) Axonometrie section through the building

(Left) The top of the aedlcula

Wmmm mmm to a great extent - this building within a building represents more a nostalgia for such a type than a type itself, probably the result, ironically, of a lack of abstraction and analysis despite Ungers' intentions. In the context of a museum of architecture, it is as if the enclosed building became the museum's first item to be collected, the ancestral, original prototype of architecture. Topologically, as it is placed in the centre, it is positioned like the seed out of which all architecture grows, as well as the villa which encloses it. Any building other than an architectural museum that played such mirroring games might be criticized as self-indulgent. But for an architectural museum, and especially one under the directorship of the post-modern theoretician Heinrich Klotz, the idea was most felicitous.

(Opposite) Site plan and conceptual drawing for Ungers' Architectural Museum

(Above) Axonometrie section through the building

(Left) The top of the aedlcula

Richard Meier & Partners

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