The first volume of a Portraits series, devoted to Rafael Moneo, closes with an interview recorded in Barcelona in 2013 for the arquia/maestros collection, which we reproduce in these pages. In a huge dark studio, amid cameras, microphones, and cranes, we did a run-through of his career with images of buildings of his projected on a screen set up behind us. The dramatic illumination produced by spotlights created a bubble of intimacy that blotted out all the paraphernalia surrounding us in shadows, and the dialogue – transcribed here in the form of a monologue – flowed with ease.
If I am an architect, it is largely owing to my father. When I finished secondary school, I was especially drawn to the humanities, and seeing me waver it was he who steered me toward architecture. It was difficult to get into the School at that time but I was lucky, and I was a diligent student, accustomed to discipline and demanding studies thanks to my father and my Jesuit education. During that period, the heavyweights in the School were the veteran Leopoldo Torres Balbás and the younger Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oíza, who would call me, still a student, to work with him on the Torres Blancas project.
After graduating, fascinated with the Sydney Opera House, I wanted to work with Utzon, so I went to his studio with the help of a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After returning to Spain to do my military service, I obtained, as you know, a scholarship at the Academy in Rome, so there I went, newly married to Belén, to consolidate my training. The initial commissions would later come through people connected to my father, and it is a testimony of their confidence in him that the Zaragoza manufacturers of transformers, with only his word as guarantee, entrusted me with the Diestre plant, perhaps the first-ever of some importance. My father followed my career very closely and it was sad that he did not get to see the Mérida museum completed, so I dedicated it “to the memory of the engineer Rafael Moneo.”...[+]