At the close of 2023, AV magazine enters its fortieth year, with the Spain Yearbook launched in 1994 having completed thirty volumes, and AV Proyectos turning the corner of twenty years. This triple anniversary encourages to refresh the editorial project, adding to the Yearbook a Portfolio on international architecture, improving the coverage of Arquitectura Viva and redesigning AV Proyectos. The Spain Yearbook has regularly published twenty-four buildings and will continue to do so in the future, now including the work of Spanish offices abroad. From its start, the Yearbook complemented the Spanish works with articles of mine that dealt with the global panorama, and this chronicle was rounded off since 1988 with a selection of twelve works finished during the year in other countries, too briefly illustrated. This we hope to remedy with the Portfolio, which presents twelve international works in extenso, to which we add twelve articles that take stock of the main events in the period.
The year that began with Niemeyer’s Brazil congress assaulted by a crowd closes with the humanitarian and geopolitical crisis of the war provoked by the terrorist incursion of Hamas in Israel, a conflict in which we again witness an urbicide in the Gaza Strip comparable to the previous ones in the Balkans or in Syria, not to mention the persistent war of Ukraine. In this fractured panorama, new actors from the so-called Global South have come to the fore, led by a China that challenges the values of the West, and including among them India, which has become the world’s most populous country, Turkey, which has celebrated its centenary, or Saudi Arabia, which claims the position due to its oil revenues. Meanwhile, the ecological and climate crisis is worsening, governments remain unable to speed up the transition to renewable energies, and both conflicts and famines continue to drive massive migration flows that fuel the growth of populism and the decay of democracy in wealthy countries.
The buildings of the year reflect with the slow pace of architecture the global pulse of our time, and also testify to the values behind the construction of each one. From the iconic works raised on the margins of Europe by key offices of the continent, and to the modest constructions in Asia, Africa or Latin America that aim to improve the well-being of populations, the selection also includes museums in China or the United States that allow the projection of soft power by the two geopolitical rivals, and projects for work, leisure, and the spirit that manage to make the everyday exceptional, showing architecture’s power to make life more intense. This first Portfolio – without Spanish works, featured in the Yearbook which this publication complements – hopes to offer a blurred outline of the year in the world through a dozen buildings that are just a drop in the ocean of construction on the planet, whose challenge is undoubtedly urban, even though here we only address the beauty and the pertinence of singular works.