Friday, July 31, 2009


Mansilla+Tuñón proposal for the competition of the new building for the German School in Madrid (may 2009).

Mansilla + Tuñón Architects

Benavides Laperche Landscape -
Gogaite Structural Engineers
Grupo JG Engineers

Friday, July 24, 2009


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Children's Biennial by Leve_ at BEAUX

10th Biennial of Architecture Prize Ceremony

Beatriz Corredor Sierra, Minister of Housing, delivers the 10th Biennial of Architecture Prize to the architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg, for his work in the Canal Theaters in Madrid.

Biennial of Architecture in Santillana del Mar

Photos by Jorge L. Conde

Friday, July 17, 2009

(Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, Summer 2009, 5th Day)


Looking back it is interesting to note how the concept of environmental coexistence, between architecture and the natural environment, has changed gradually over the course of the last years, starting from the vague romantic principles on ecology that were proposed at the end of the eighties decade, and moving on towards more precise proposals of specific intervention, which involve a deep transformation of both the individual and collective behaviors.Of those projects for the design of buildings that are embedded in nature and carried out with traditional materials, without any type of theoretical support beyond pure nostalgia, we have now moved on to scientific manifestoes based on supposedly more objective and quantifiable pieces of data that try to address that "inconvenient truth" concealed for many decades: the excessive dimension of our ecological footprint.The ecological footprint -understood as the amount of land and water that a population needs in order to generate the resources it consumes and absorb the waste it produces- of the human population is, currently, 20% greater than the surface of our planet, which entails an evident over-consumption of the existing resources and, therefore, a gradual degeneration of our habitat.In 1998 the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich stated, for the first time, the well-known program 2000-watt society, launching, in the year 2001, a pilot program in the metropolitan region of Basel. Currently the plan is to make this program extensive to the whole federal territory.The aim of the 2000-watt society pilot program is to reduce the average rate of energy use of each person to 2000 watts per year by the year 2050, without lowering their standard of living, bearing in mind that, currently, a western European citizen uses an average of around 6000 watts per year; and a United States citizen uses an average of 12000 watts.2000-watt society is an apparently utopian project, but totally achievable according to the researchers in Switzerland who are in charge of the program, which requires, amongst other measures, a transformation of the totality of resources of each territory; by way of a radical in- crease of the renewable energy production systems, a series of drastic transformations inthe systems of public transportation, the refurbishment of the building stock following criteria of low energy building standards, the limitation in the production of residues, and so on. But above all, 2000-watt-society demands a deep transformation of the individual, business and public energy consumption habits.If we consider that the ecological footprint generated by of our society must adjust necessarily to the geometrical dimensions of our habitat, it becomes evident that a coordinated collective action is necessary. Building, as any other activity of human beings, has to take on pan of the responsibility in the construction of this objective, and, therefore, architecture, as a collective phenomenon, cannot remain oblivious to this global problem.For this reason, architecture today; incorporating or not the 2000-watt society principle, must assume as essential elementary matters such as formal and constructional optimization, the reduction of energy demand, the use of passive energy systems, the exploitation of renewable energy sources, the collection and reuse of rainwater, the use of clean, less contaminating materials, the limitation in the production of waste, recycling and the optimization of processes during construction, maintenance and disassembly. But above all it is the mission of architecture to actively contribute to the creation of individual behavior patterns which consider the reduction of consumption and waste as a priority collective objective of our society.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Luis M. Mansilla
Emilio Tuñón

Architecture and urbanism share with life itself a persistent coexistence with what remains and what is transformed… The quiet flow of life watched over by surprise becomes perplexed during rough times, accompanied by the sense of need for drastic change and a sense of knowing what we have to abandon, but at the same time with the personal uneasiness of ignorance about what we should be heading towards.

The 10th Spanish Architecture and Urbanism Biennale, apart from being a celebration of architecture and urban planning, is a chance to think about the state of things, about where we are heading after 20 years in a profession that has reaped much success, but also failure, thanks to the buoyant situation of a democratic economy but also the heritage left to us by the masters who struggled to rebuild our country and improve the lives of its citizens.

The need to give the country a large range of infrastructure, facilities and housing, and the necessary celebration of public competitions to provide equal opportunities for all, together with the high standard of training provided by our schools of architecture, has enabled Spanish architects to do their work efficiently in the last 20 years with a degree of acknowledgement by the society that they have served. Nevertheless, it would be sterile, and hence futile, to be complacently satisfied with the success that has accompanied the economic bonanza in recent years without acknowledging that the current situation seems to suggest a less comfortable future, and hence a future that requires a reformulation of the hitherto recurrent models.

For some years now, the classrooms at the Spanish schools of architecture have witnessed a fascinating exchange of ideas about the different approaches to architecture and urban planning. One of the fruits of this academic debate, which has spread into the professional sphere, has been a displacement of the more conventional values of our discipline- space, structure, matter and representation- by a suite of broader, more open, alternative vectors related to the social sphere, ecology, systems of interaction, change and management. It is consolidating a powerful trend of activism amongst a large group of young architects and groups who are proposing a new way of imagining the only architecture and the city, but also society.

This activism, like all creative activity, is the fruit of a dissatisfaction with the state of things. It has emerged in the form of operations and actions which open up a new approach to the world, forging links between highly diversified areas of knowledge. In this activism, instead of the polyhedral system of specialist publications, it claims the right to be heard and refute the official line from the anonymity of the Internet, giving rise to a hitherto unknown phenomenon in which analysis and criticism is democratised, broadening the chance for participation and hence amplifying people's ability to manifest their dissatisfaction with the establishment.

In this context, disturbed by criticism of what we ought to abandon, the sudden onset of the economic crisis has shown that the multitude of proposals by a youth disillusioned with the recent past must not only be brought into the pure academic and professional debate, but has deep roots in the real problems of a disoriented world, and spreads its branches into society as a whole, bringing to the fore youth's ability to glimpse the future from a certain vitalistic disenchantment; a future in which the architectural debate is calling for new attitudes, new strategies and new models.

The burst real estate bubble that enriched many and provided much work to a whole generation of architects who were proud of their achievements has been the first wake-up call about today's lack of faith in a better future, produced by the economic recession. In a sombre statistical landscape following our enjoyment of a privileged situation over a long period, Spanish architects are now faced with an uncomfortable future, prompted by three major challenges: the need to reformulate our education model, the need to reformulate our professional model, and the need to reformulate our technological model.

In the process of harmonising Spain’s education system with the European tertiary educational space, our society has opted for an empirical system with a greater practical and professional focus and more mobility, in contrast with the more theoretical, static academic model. It should be noted, however, that Spain’s schools of architecture, traditionally part of the tertiary polytechnics, have already adopted a certain degree of empirical pragmatism. However, this reformulation process in the education system has, in the case of architecture, sown the seeds of doubt about the future of our professional attributes and responsibilities, and hence also certain doubts about the future distribution of our work. That is why the necessary implementation of the European tertiary education space will not only adapt our architectural learning system to the common patterns in the rest of Europe, but will also require a readjustment of our architects’ activities in relation to their responsibilities, along with a transformation of their guilds.

The need to adapt to European labour regulations will also require a reformulation process in the labour relations model, and hence the professional model, when the current relationship between architects and their assistants is reformulated. Whether we like it or not, we are now faced with an unstoppable process which will convert today’s architect’s offices into a veritable technical corporations, which will have little to do with the traditional guild system in which the transmission of experience from master to apprentice has been the primary learning tool and the start of our professional careers.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly from a purely architectural perspective, the unstoppable reformulation of the technological model, linked to a collective sense that we will never be able to return to an architecture of media-based excess and property speculation-based urbanism, calls for a type of architecture and urban planning that is based on values that exercise greater influence over people and things like ecology, sociology, politics, management and communication. Thus, new styles of work are emerging, some hesitant, others powerful and militant, in which architecture and urban planning are placed at the service of people and society, instead of serving representation and power; new forms of work that defend the poetic capacity of sustainability, its management and its technology; new forms of work with small-scale effects, fully aware of the undeniable potential of micro-architecture and micro-urbanism; new forms of pragmatic yet idealistic work, the heirs of the radical architects' proposals in the second half of the 20thcentury which, from idealistic perspectives, gave us a premonition of something real that was just a future promise at the time.

In a world in crisis, the future can only open up to architecture that is sensitive to its condition as a basis for the activities of life; architecture that is activist from a social perspective, and propositive from a political point of view; a balanced architecture that is generous with nature, that draws its strength from the local conditions where it is inserted; architecture that links up with other disciplines and areas of knowledge without relinquishing those of its own discipline; architecture in which functional, constructive and formal experimentation coexists with a natural continuity of the modes of inhabitation and their contemporary reformulations; an architecture whose goals are not deposited in a sad, egotistical desire for presence and power, but rather in respect for collective space, which belongs to all; optimistic, generous architecture which proposes a better future without squandering the values of the present and what is yet to come…

(Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, Summer 2009, 4th Day)


Luis M. Mansilla and Emilio Tuñón

Looking back – hardly out of the corner of the eye, as the future is awaiting – it is interesting to observe how the concept of context, the idea of landscape, and the social environment, which is so important to us, have evolved in the work of the office of Mansilla + Tuñon, growing, unfolding, exceeding its limits and approaching life. From the onset of our work, the will to state the concepts of equality and diversity within the realm of architecture, has deployed itself over different landscapes. Already back in the nineties we produced a handful of projects characterized by a vision of the project’s context as avoiding familiar forms and seeking to establish ties with the character of things or unfolding actions. Our aim then was to explore what was behind things, assuming that it was ideas, not form, that could be shared by both place and project, or in other words, by past and future. A few years later, our obsessions turned from repetition and chance to the creation of systems that respond to local behavioral patterns, which we then called “expressive systems.” Such expressive systems meant a more abstract, although not less material, approach to context within our work. From investigation to pragmatism, the last few projects by the office of Mansilla + Tuñón have consciously oscillated between the universal and the individual, between the social and the private, between ideas and form, between strategies and tools, between social landscapes and living objects… If only architecture could be but a mirror where each observer sees different things, sees others, or sees himself…

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


New MUSAC exhibitions (11 July 2009 to 10 January 2010)

Ugo Rondinone
Title: The Night of Lead
Artist: Ugo Rondinone
Curator: Agustín Pérez Rubio
Coordinator: Eneas Bernal
Venue: Halls 1, 4, 5, 6

Jorge Galindo
Title: La pintura y la furia (The Painting and the Fury)
Artist: Jorge Galindo
Curator: Rafael Doctor
Coordinators: Kristine Guzmán, Luisa Fraile
Venue: Hall 3

Kyong Park
Title: Kyong Park. The New Silk Roads
Artist: Kyong Park (Cheng-mu, South Corea, 1955)
Curator: Octavio Zaya
Coordinator: Helena López Camacho
Venue: Hall 2

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


(Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, Summer 2009, 2nd Day)



An experiment is a text that narrates a non-textual situation, a text that others will later supervise in order to decide whether it’s a simple text or not. If the final test meets with success, then it isn’t a mere text, there’s a real situation behind it, in fact. Bruno Latour [1]

While the present is yet being constructed, the past and future assume new forms. Each instant, each new action, highlights a revision of what is done and also gives a new, or novel-perhaps still unknown-outline to that which is to be done, uninterruptedly modifying both collective memory and future projects.

In this changing scenario, with past and future in constant construction, probability turns into the only possible appearance of certainty, into the only face that enables it to approach reality. At the heart of this transformation, architecture fixes its gaze more widely, or dilates its pupils, considering the definition of space as only a small part of the task to which it is summoned: the construction of artificial environments in which the acts of men unfold. Or to put it more precisely, the time and the territory of the collective, the latter understood in the way Bruno Latour defines it: “In the new emerging paradigm, we have replaced by the notion of a collective-defined as the exchange of human and nonhuman properties in the bosom of a corporation-the word ‘society’, so burdened by its many connotations.” [2]

This is a sort of mobilisation of the world in which the basic tool is negotiation between the parts, and the goal the creation of real or virtual scenarios of wills that encourage collective identity. An extension is involved, putting what we are or think we are on the same level as that which surrounds us, so that the truly important thing is the ability to multiply the relations between humans, nature, machines or the virtual, so that in its abrasions, in its conflicts, in its agreements, and in its distances there dilates our being in the world so as to make space for the awareness that man and woman are nature unfolding thanks to its ability to think about itself virtually. Or put more rapidly: that we are nothing less, but also nothing more, than a small part of a world that spins endlessly, tirelessly.

Today, architecture socialises that which is not really human, so that there may be established, through science and technology, relations with humans. And although it is clear that the destiny of the artefacts constructed or imagined is in the hands of the subsequent users, architecture in action attempts, going back to Bruno Latour, to open the black boxes, explaining facts and machines from the discovery or the revelation of the connection between humans and nonhumans.

The MUSAC, understood not so much as architecture but as action, is an experiment which attempts to construct a circulatory system of the collective, a new space of links and nodes for interaction, the latter understood as that which renders visible-or rather possible-the links between humans and nature, machines, artefacts, the facts, occurred or imagined, or on the point of happening, the virtual.

On a huge flat surface, almost a lake in the expansion of the city of León, the MUSAC interacts with history, or what remains of it, manipulating it by defining the art venue in the same optimistic way that Roman surveyors laid out the lineaments of the Seventh Legion encampment-the origin of the city-on the landscape.

By means of a process of autonomisation, inherited from the non-modern decontextualisations of Pop and from scalar transformations born of the fear of form, the lineaments of colonisation correspond to a Roman mosaic: a structure that is developed from an open system formed by a fabric of squares and rhomboids which permit a secret geography of memory to be constructed.

This involves a process of activation or excitation of a fragment of what surrounds us, similar to casting a stone, or a word, or a memory into a lake with an uneven perimeter, which immediately receives the ripples, reflecting and deforming them when interacting with what surrounds it.

In this way the echo of the Roman mosaic cast into the location activates unsuspected, and at the same time logical, perimeters, distinctly illuminating the cultivated fields nearby, fields always ordered in the middle but disordered at the perimeter, immobile like the desert horizon, and the alternation of two figures convokes that gentle alliance with nature which calls for half the fields in Castile and León to be left to lie fallow each year in order not to exhaust her.

If we look elsewhere, familiarity with geometry updates the potentiality of non-Cartesian configurations. Actually, the orthogonal organisation privileges the relations of each point with an origin, establishing an order that may or may not be hierarchical, but runs into serious difficulties in order to establish particular relations with the close-at-hand, relations of a specific or differentiating kind with the contiguous. Nevertheless, the warp and weft-like combination makes no reference to a centre, but behaves instead like a mechanism which privileges and interacts with what is close-at-hand or contiguous, without the need to know what is happening further on. A system of local pattern behaviour is thus established, one which generates the component to component relations, in which the coherence of the whole is not ordained by the division of a complete figure or by the components making it up but by the connection that links them. The waves rebound here on the terrain of mathematical fields, beneath the shadow and the recollection of the Cordoba mosque, Las Atarazanas in Barcelona or the Spanish Pavilion at the Brussels Exhibition.

The process is akin to a dynamic which tries to overcome the differences between internalist explanations (which look towards content) and externalist ones (which direct their gaze towards context) in assuming that what is truly relevant are their links, articulations and transformations.

By grafting the setting of the architecture with a schema of behaviour that only pays attention to the close-at-hand-the square hardly knows that it has a rhomboid next to it-we find ourselves before a figure similar to a woven fabric, which repeats a motif, but which can be cut away at any point without it foregoing its condition thereby, just as a flock of birds is no more or no less of a flock if a few birds are subtracted or added to it. This is important, because we arrive at a scheme of behaviour whose character remains unaltered if more pieces are added or taken away, or even if these are reduced or increased in size. The perimeter or shape of the building literally ceases to be of any importance, and any layout, until being adjusted to the real size required, is equally valid. Each layout is equivalent, or what amounts to the same thing, possible, and our final recollection will remain unaltered. Although here the relevant thing is not our recollections, but the appearance of the concept of possibility and, beyond that, of freedom.

A freedom in which the presence of the same and the different is converted into a terrain of reflection that inundates the work, acquiring concrete form only through the edge condition that ultimately appears. The connecting of the project, of each action, of each thought, to a common territory of reflection enables the work to be endowed with a component that is abstract and, as such, independent of the form. A reflection or a vector of interests which is then particularised according to the concrete conditions.

Thus, the interior of the MUSAC is constructed as a succession of continuous but distinct spatial events, dotted with patios and huge skylights, giving shape to an expressive system that speaks to us of the interest that architecture and art share: the contemporary manifestation of the different and the same, of the universal and the transitory, as an echo of our own diversity and equality as people.

In this slightly involuntary way the MUSAC acquires a sharp outline: that of a set of precise rules, a game board on which order and freedom are simultaneously present, the other face of that presence of the different and the same, as a material echo of our unrenounceable human condition.

Unlike other kinds of space whose museistic quality is centred on the showing of fixed historical collections, the MUSAC is a living space which opens the door to a wide range of contemporary artistic expressions; an art centre that constructs a set of game boards in which actions are the leading players of the space itself; a series of autonomous and interconnected exhibition rooms enables shows of different sizes and characteristics to be created; each irregularly shaped room constructs a continuous, yet spatially separate, space that gives onto the other rooms and patios, providing longitudinal, transversal and diagonal views.

This is a set of rooms alike in their geometry and construction, but which, due to the different kinds of light coming from skylights, patios and picture windows, are nevertheless transformed into spaces with different qualities by means of a simultaneous process of autonomisation and alliance of facts and artefacts. Five hundred prefabricated beams close off a series of spaces characterised by the systematic repetition and the formal expressiveness a changing light brings.

This presence of the condition of sameness and difference is amplified in the entrance lobby where two huge twin skylights disburse light on the space, but each of them is receiving light from different directions, one east and the other west. And so, in the morning one lets a warm, heavy light fall, while the other lets in a cold, changeable light. When the afternoon descends, and the sun shifts round, the situation is reversed, as if two skylights, or two people, might be able to recognise their mutual diversity, but at the end of the day recognise each other as interchangeable, or part of a single group.

Outside, public space assumes a concave shape in order to accommodate different activities and encounters, a shape enfolded by great coloured panes of glass, in which homage is paid to the city as a place of personal intercommunication.

Offcuts of the fabric go to form its irregular perimeter, and they seem more like windfalls than the outcome of a dedicated search.

The wall surfaces of this Forum are bedecked in colours, colours engaged in setting themselves up as protagonists of the Public Image; they speak to us of the vitality of the drying washing and the plants which hang from the balconies of the city squares, of inquisitive children leaning out of the window to look. Although ransacking history with impunity once more, its image comes from the pixelisation of a fragment of the stained glass windows of León Cathedral. This process of abstraction, or of an absent or cold gaze upon the figure of El Halconero, The Falconer, distances it from the form, distances it as much as a falcon distances itself, but refers without a doubt to that combination-at a distance from the personal-of order and disorder, of imbrication and detachment that only nature, with its complexity, is capable of producing. It is a question of seeing the most ancient through the pupils of our own era—computers. Only these manage to get close to nature, such that the works of man seem like a fragment of nature, or an anthropological vestige of the future.

Although in actual fact we neither construct a reality, nor does reality construct us; the MUSAC seeks only to efface the boundaries between the public and the private, between leisure and work, and, once and for all, between art and life, and so its roofs convoke the River Duero, which traverses all the provinces of Castile and León, as if art and water might share that continuous cycle which makes them seem forever the same and forever new-or, perhaps, they simply serve for what they are, for carrying along a simple and normal, everyday water. Just water.

Mansilla & Tuñón, architects November 2004


[1] LATOUR, Bruno, La esperanza de Pandora, ensayos sobre la realidad de los estudios de la ciencia, Gedisa, Barcelona, 2001, p. 149. (English edition: Pandora's Hope. Essays on the Reality of Science Studies, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1999).

[2] Ibid., p. 231.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Thursday, July 9, 2009

(Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, Summer 2009, 1st Lecture)

July, 13th, Monday.


"Seeing and Performing"

Emilio Tuñón, Luis Mansilla.

The course, taught by Emilio Tuñón and Luis Mansilla (winners of 2007 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - the Mies van der Rohe Award), covers the work of the architects from the inception of the Mansilla+Tuñón studio in 1992 to the present day. In nine lessons, their work will be scrutinized in a double structure, every day focusing on one of five different territories of the architectural occupation: vision, thought, process, action and future. Within each one of these categories, the first part of the lesson will focus on the theoretical and general aspects, while the second lesson will focus on M+T’s production, or architectural imagination. Movie screenings will complement each topic, serving to expand and introduce a posterior dialog. A third transversal, structural layer, surveying past architectural pieces through the eyes of other architects and artists, weaves throughout the course up to the final lesson, which will focus on the challenges that the future, already almost present, provides us. Challenges that provide, first and foremost, an opportunity and a source of inspiration for their work.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009


July 11th at 8 p.m.

The famous American poet John Giorno will develop a poetical reading in the MUSAC's room 5 where Ugo Rondinone installed his work titled John's fire place, a reproduction of the fireplace at the poet's home.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


FUERA DE SERIE MAGAZINE 10 th Anniversary Special Issue