Designed in Spain

David Cohn 

Spain is generally recognized today in Europe and the rest of the developed world as an important center of architectural production. Kurt Forster, the Director of the last Venice Biennial, summarized this perception when he told El País: “Thirty years ago, no one would have thought that Spain, Holland or Japan would become the key countries in 2004. In the case of Spain, after Franco an incredible social energy has transformed architecture with great intelligence... Spain is now an architectural, cultural and political laboratory.”

The process through which Spanish architecture has earned this high reputation involves a kind of psychosocial romance of attraction and seduction in which Spain has played the part of both the ardent suit-or and the bashful bride. The first act consisted of operations such as Barcelona 92 and the Bilbao of Foster and Gehry, in which Spain imported architectural figures as symbols of the contemporaneity that its politicians and their constituents craved. The trick is that the Guggenheim strategy is not simply a question of creating a self-image for interior consumption. It is a mirror in which the world can see their own fantasies of contemporaneity. Who then is the seducer and whom the seduced?... [+]

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