‘Like art, architecture will always exist,' says Spain's Carlos Ferrater

Published 30.10.2010 12:53
Updated 19.01.2011 10:28

Art speaks. And it shows itself everywhere. Art has no limits. It becomes tangible as the artist forges it: it then becomes a painting, a sculpture, an installation, a photograph or an unforgettable moment of a piece of theater, while it is alleged by many people -- including authors and thinkers -- that art is hidden in many aspects of daily life and is just awaiting to be discovered and revealed. “The art of living,” as they call it, is the ability to do more than just breathe and expect for more than meeting the primordial drives of a human being.

So maybe this could be a good place for a small question: If "living" can be assumed as art, then doesn't it also matter "where" we live? According to prominent Spanish architect Carlos Ferrater, it does. Actually, the essential question that matters is whether a construction itself is an piece of art or not.

"Architecture is constructional, and it is realized for social purposes," Ferrater told Today's Zaman in an interview earlier this month in İstanbul, where he gave a conference titled "Landscape and Geometry." The conference, held on Oct. 14, was a joint effort by the İstanbul Cervantes Institute and the İstanbul Chamber of Architects' Büyükkent branch and was part of the İstanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture events.

Born in Barcelona in 1944 and the recipient of numerous prizes throughout his career, Ferrater is noted for his designs such as the Olympic Village in Barcelona; the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I; the Zaragoza-Delicias high speed train station; the Barcelona Botanical Garden; the auditorium and convention center of Castellón; the gardens next to the Qubba in Granada; the Science Museum in Granada; the Jacobins Cultural Center in Paris and the Aquileia Tower in Venice, among others.

For Ferrater, who also chairs the architecture department of Catalunya Politecnica University, it is essential that construction should establish a relation with its surroundings. "An [architectural structure] has relations with the place it is built in, it has relations with the people," says Ferrater. "It has to have a social aspect besides architectural aspects. That's why you have to design it in social terms as well."

Ferrater indicates that the line between what is art and what is not is quite thin -- and dangerous. "There's a moment that architecture has its intellectual risks," he says. "Architecture has such a border that you can either pass that border or fall down. So, it is either possible to create a disaster or an art piece. This border determines whether your work is a work of art or not."

The issue is not solely to construct a building but to add creativity and uniqueness to that building which should be considered within the context of its surrounding. "If constructing a structure is only meant to be a building construction, then we cannot mention about art in that case," he says. "But when you forge that structure taking into consideration its surrounding, that is something more than a mere construction. In order to build an architectural construction it has to have a connection with its surroundings, with the location it is built at, with its context and it should take art into consideration. If it doesn't have any relations with the surroundings, with the social organization and has no unique construction, for me it's not an architectural work. And at this point, I can say that I am also making art in this sense."

As technology develops and vast changes within building techniques take place, in parallel to many other branches of art and sciences, it begs the question of whether art and architecture will continue to cooperate. Ferrater is quite optimistic about the future of these two. "There are a lot of contemporary architects and very good architects," he notes. "Architecture has its future, like music, like literature. It will always exist like all the other arts, and it will always have its function of establishing connections with the social organization. Besides, it will always carry out an artistic aspect: It has always been like this in the past and will continue in the future."

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