Arquitectura Viva
Saturday, July 04, 2020

On Clinical Architecture

Alberto Pieltáin

Variations on a theme are common in art. The genre gives opportunity to test techniques or ideas alongside those of other authors on one same pattern. The architect takes fragments here and there and adapts them to an altogether new work, use, and context, but the option of fitting one same project in two different places borders on the impossible. But this fiction became a reality in 2005, with a project by estudio.entresitio for the network of Madrid health centers.

The project had to serve an identical functional program in three centers located in anodyne places conducive to introversion. This resulted in three buildings identical in form – a self-absorbed matrix of corridors, rooms, and courtyards – but not in figure. Three variations on a theme, a rare opportunity to explore directions and prospects for one same project. Now María Hurtado de Mendoza presents the three centers she conceived with her brother José María and César Jiménez de Tejada, and explains the strategies used in design and construction, questioning new ways of interpreting the approaches sustaining them.

Her book weaves a mesh of connections between the three works and the project, its by-products, and other works intelligently processed here, which he refers to, such as SANAA’s in Almere or Mansilla & Tuñón’s in León, or which are echoed, such as Jacobsen’s in Munkegaards or Soto & Lay’s in Castellar del Vallés. A series of carefully arranged images and concise texts accompany the drawings, opening up room for debate.

María Hurtado de Mendoza
Clinical: An Architecture of Variation with Repetition
Actar Publishers, Nueva York, 2017
256 pages

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