by Zohra KhanNov 23, 2019
The work of Ricardo Bofill defies easy classification. The founder of Barcelona-based practice Taller de Arquitectura features in a short film by PLANE-SITE, produced in the run-up to the opening of Time Space Existence biennial to be held in Venice next year.
The interview took place at La Fábrica - the repurposed cement factory turned studio and home of the architect, which is also one of his most distinguished projects realised till date. The conversation is part of the Time Space Existence series, which brings together inspiring conversations with prominent and emerging architects, with a previous line-up comprising the likes of Peter Eisenman, BV Doshi, Arata Isozaki, Fumihiko Maki, Tatiana Bilbao, WOHA Architects, Daniel Libeskind and Kengo Kuma.
“Architecture opens the capacity for generosity.”
In the video, Bofill describes an intimate analogy that he derives out of architecture. “The most important part of the relationship with architecture is the capacity for generosity,” he says, further adding that if “the relationship exists, love exists”.
“To work at different scales is the architect’s wisdom.”
At its most monumental, his work has an affective quality — notably the Espaces d’Abraxas housing complex in Paris, which has divided public opinion since it was finished in 1983, and the never-completed Les Halles. Speaking from his interdisciplinary practice that operates at different scales, Bofill advises contemporary architects that they must learn how to leap between scales without making it appear like multiplication, for if it is the latter, it would be ‘monumentality without a soul’.
Intrinsic threads within his oeuvre combine the use of classical motifs, brutalism and traditional Catalan building methods. But at the heart of each work lies the source of deep pleasure that he draws from, which is unlike the pleasure of music or arts. This pleasure of space, Bofill says, is experienced when one reads the space not from a certain point of view but from a state of constant flow.
“The control of time is the most important element in my own personality.”
Coming from a family of builders, Bofill was exposed to the understanding of space and the built environment early in life. One of the reasons why he took architecture, as he describes in the film, was to face the ‘futility of life’ and that by doing architecture he could ‘live or leave a story’ that will last for years to come. He does not believe in it anymore: “I do not think that the construction of a work surpasses you or I do not think it has much importance. At this moment what I think is interesting for me is the work itself, it is the challenge of each project, the challenge of each idea.”
The project is composed of cubes whose rigid geometry is broken on the exterior to create a façade portraying a beautiful play of light and shadow
“Everyone knows that creativity runs out.”
The architect (aged 80) whose career has spanned over fifty years, producing more than 1000 buildings in over 50 countries, still exercises his creativity and challenges himself to try doing his best to continue creating.
The Time Space Existence video series has been made possible with the support of European Cultural Centre.