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Saturday, October 20, 2018
BRITÁNICOS

AV Monografías 107

BRITÁNICOS

The British Scene
V-VI 2004

 

BRITÁNICOS

The British Scene

Luis Fernández-Galiano
La Ilustración británica
The British Enlightment



Un presente con pasado 
A Present with Past

Peter Buchanan
Ahora y entonces: Gran Bretaña desde 1950
Now and Then, British Architecture since 1950

Deyan Sudjic
Historia de dos ciudades: entre Foster y Adjaye
A Tale of Two Cities: between Foster and Adjaye


Tecnólogos laureados
Lords of Technology

Norman Foster 
Centro tecnológico McLaren, Woking McLaren Technology Centre, Woking

Richard Rogers 
Escuela infantil Minami-Yamashiro (Japón) Minami-Yamashiro Primary School (Japan)

Nicholas Grimshaw 
Fábrica Rolls Royce, Goodwood Rolls Royce Manufacturing Plant, Goodwood

Michael Hopkins 
Refectorio de la catedral, Norwich Cathedral Refectory, Norwich


Vanguardias veteranas  
Veteran Avant-Gardes

Cook & Fournier 
Kunsthaus, Graz (Austria) Kunsthaus, Graz (Austria)

Future Systems 
Almacenes Selfridges, Birmingham Selfridges Store, Birmingham

William Alsop 
Escuela de Bellas Artes, Toronto (Canadá) College of Art and Design, Toronto (Canada)

Zaha Hadid 
Centro de la Ciencia, Wolfsburg (Alemania) Science Centre, Wolfsburg (Germany)

Realistas lacónicos 
Laconic Realists

John Pawson 
Monasterio, Novy Dvur (Chequia) Monastery, Novy Dvur (Czech Republic)

Tony Fretton 
Casa de la Fe, Holton Lee Faith House, Holton Lee

Caruso & St John 
Plaza Stortorget, Kalmar (Suecia) Stortorget Square, Kalmar (Sweden)

Sergison & Bates 
Tres escuelas, Bedfordshire Three Schools, Bedfordshire

David Chipperfield  
Taller de Antony Gormley, Londres Antony Gormley Workshop, London

Ian Ritchie
Centro de producción teatral, Plymouth Theatre Royal Production Centre, Plymouth

William Russell 
Casa en Bacon Street, Londres House on Bacon Street, London

David Adjaye
Centro Idea Store, Londres  Idea Store, London


 
Luis Fernández-Galiano

The British Enlightment

Revolution? No, please, we’re British. The famous joke on sex could be applied to other political or aesthetic excesses. Radical changes affecting institutions or appearances have never been popular in Great Britain, and both the ideological revolution of the Enlightenment and the architectural upheaval of the Modern Movement knew, on the other side of the Channel, more temperate versions, marked by the journey from reason to virtue, and from geometry to context. The reformist modernity symbolized by the flexible pluralism of the British Enlightenment – unlike the universalism of the French – and through the continuity of architectural rationalism – in contrast to the ruptures of German avant-gardes – traces an insular landscape whose Anglo-Saxon profile is defined in controversial dialogue with the continent. After its historical traumas between the 16th and 18th centuries, the birthplace of liberal democracy has avoided all revolutions except for the industrial one, and – suspicious of uniformity – allowed only shallow roots for the International Style.

High-tech has peacefully prevailed as a unanimous vernacular by weakening its ties with Franco-German mechanicist abstraction or American corporate modernity, and strengthening its links with responsible sustainability or egalitarian communitarianism; the formalist expressionism spurred by globalization and spectacle is an ephemeral fruit of cosmopolitan London, but it has near roots in futurist and psychedelic pop, and more remote ones in British eccentricity and its taste for the picturesque; and the new reductive realism of the younger generation uses a laconic language as indebted to the lyrical and material refinement of the Swiss or the Spanish as it is loyal to a pòvera tradition of disciplined sensibility, functional pragmatism and concern for the environment. Flirting with utopia only in the most extreme experiments, this multiform architecture feigns continuity with the polite reformism and mild consensus of social democracy and the welfare state; however, the whirlwind of the times has completely altered the territory upon which it rises.

Paradoxically, the economic decline of the 60s and 70s coincided with a cultural boom that transformed Great Britain, deep in postimperial skepticism, into a coveted destination. The microeconomic reforms of Margaret Thatcher in the 80s and the macroeconomic orthodoxy of the ‘New Labour’ in the 90s generated a stable growth and a social optimism that dispelled the nostalgia for the ‘Swinging London’ under the new formula of the ‘Cool Britannia’, an electric universe of fashion, finance and coffee beans. But the euphoria that has turned London into a breeding ground for lifestyles and design trends is the result of a fast economy that overthrows old customs to put building and its teaching through the sieve of the market. Thirty-five years ago I discovered the luminous promise of reformist modernity living in the warm interiors of a Cambridge college, Leslie Martin’s Peterhouse; today, the news that this university shall close its Department of Architecture for budgetary reasons puts a melancholy coda to this contradictory celebration of the British Enlightenment.

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