Magicians of Nature

Carlos Jiménez 

Aranda Pigem Vilalta – RCR Arquitectes – are magicians of mineral and natural discoveries. Their architecture conjures sensual intimations, refractions, and densities from the most elemental material conditions, whether a single sheet of Cor-ten steel, a formation of sedimentary rocks, a soft undulating field, or a sliver of glass multiplied ad infinitum. Their carefully placed compositions fix their minimal gaze to the splendors of nature. These traits were present in one of their first and most compelling works, the Tusssols-Basil Athletics Stadium in Olot (1991-2001). The discreet ensemble of landscape andsports tracks startles the visitor with its intertwined legibility, a place where nature and infrastructure, organic and inorganic elements, dissolve into one interchangeable activity. Beside its brilliant emancipation from conventional athletic typologies, the architecture demarcates a tranquil clearing in a dense forest of white oaks. Perceptible from close and distant intervals, this clearing becomes even more formidable when seen from above one of the inclined sentinel-like lanterns that surround the running track. The stadium is a bucolic earthwork, a fragmented yet serene landscape, a boundless arena where runners and spectators, trees and rocks unravel their confident yet unobtrusive claim on the forest. It is a captivating place that brings to mind Magritte’s Le blanc-seing where rider and forest become virtually indivisible...

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