A New Generation

Seven Young Teams from Catalonia


The idea of ‘generation’ is so full of traps and is necessarily so unfair as to often fall into disrepute. But it is still useful, as demonstrated by its persistent use in classifying groups of authors, artists, or architects. Sometimes the word is not just useful, but also accurate, and the term ‘generation’ ends up impregnating the imagery of the discipline. Can we rightly speak of a new generation in Catalan architecture? The answer to this question is conditioned by the scenario suggested by this magazine some issues ago (Arquitectura Viva 187), when in taking stock of professionals between 40 and 50 years of age, it grouped them under the loose and rather polemic heading ‘The Crisis Generation’: the generation of those who have had to face hard times just when their careers were supposed to ‘take off.’ In age and spirit, the roster of ‘new’ Catalan architects selected here overlaps with that of Spaniards presented in that issue, and the two groups can be said to be alike in having had to reinvent themselves by focusing on what used to be seen as secondary skills, working on very small scales, managing the collective will through participatory processes, and developing tactics for impoverished contexts. But there are features that specifically characterize the young Catalan generation: the penchant for working on preexisting stuctures and the emphasis on returning to the traditional mechanisms of the discipline through drawing and construction, translating this commitment into an aesthetic based on materials where apparent povera simplicity and environmental concerns are allied with an almost unmentionable formal talent. In these questions the new generation seems to reject the masters of previous generations, who trusted the thaumaturgical powers of diseny.

It now remains to be seen if this group of architects will ultimately confirm itself as a bona fide ‘generation.’ Only time can tell. Meanwhile, here are seven works of architecture which are strong in those features that so many other Catalan practices share. Readers can judge for themselves.

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