CASA ENTRE MEDIANERAS

BARRIO SAN MATÍAS, GRANADA




CONTACTS SHORT-TERM EXCHANGES AND APPROPRIATIONS IN A HISTORIC QUARTER.

   

The parties may establish any agreement they consider appropriate, provided that these do not contravene the law, morality or good practices, (article 1255 of the Spanish Civil Code, 1889).


Participate: take part in or have a share of something.




There are architectural projects that wage war in isolation. Unaware of what is going on around them, they decide the future within the physical limits of their own territory and dedicate their time to imagining spaces, interpreting typologies, composing facades or adapting a program of requirements to the available space, in the cheapest manner possible. We might say that they are out of touch, cloistered, isolated and deaf, putting their trust in architectural discipline in order to carry out the work successfully.


Others, (the minority), decide the future based on conspiracies and relationships with their immediate neighbors, are worried about what their neighbors might offer them and add the interests of others to their own problems, as if the sum of events might lead to a way of life that pleases each and every one of their inhabitants, and in witch architecture is the tool used to give shape to continuous agreements and disagreements. It is revealing to discover that when items are grouped, houses are joined together, the interest might lie more in the points where this meet and the interrelationship that exists between them, rather than in each of  these individually.

The manner in witch the architectural styles in the historical quarter crowd together, overlap or collide, allows one to recognize different forms of participation in the contact between structural elements and, at the same time, generates new expectations for those involved in this situation: the dwelling requires dialogue to express its wishes and conflict forms an essential part of the final solution for the project. If we accept this possibility as an argument, we might approach the occupation of space in historical quarters from another viewpoint, divorced from architectural discipline, making its inhabitants the main actors, who would claim rights (desires) on neighboring properties to include these in their own, in a process of universal participation and consensus.” Making room for oneself “, forming part of the labyrinthine framework of the old city it is not at all easy and we might find sense in the idea of housing a construction under these conditions if it shared a series of advantages- not always legitimate- which it would enjoy together with other inhabitants and as an effect of which a sense of solidarity would be established among them, even though this might be circumstantial. What is agreed is of no importance, in time this might be altered to reach a better, more worthwhile agreement, of more benefit or advantage to everyone. Being open to this system involves a change of attitude that undermines and upsets traditional architectural models, conditions the architecture of the future and, what is more significant, blurs the boundaries of what is understood as private property by encroaching upon what belongs to someone else.


Seen from this viewpoint, developing projects based on consensus is something like getting involved in a series of collisions propagated under the domino effect, in which other inhabitants would get involved gradually, in a game of exchange, barter, cession or loan. Designing under this conditions means relating elements, assuming the wish to transform with a more or less vehement wish to obtain something that attracts us, something we would like to have.

Who has not thought about knocking down the party wall that separates his home from the neighbor’s to enlarge a room that has become small; climb onto a roof that does not belong to us; own a room with views of the building opposite, or dream of having the column- lined courtyard belonging to the neighboring house, if only for a few minutes a day? Clearly,  dreaming in this way requires an exhaustive knowledge of the life of our neighbor and his belongings, entering his private world, slipping through the cracks in neighboring buildings and knowing every inch of the ground where we tread in order to ‘usurp`, share or lend successfully. It is a game of exchanging, swapping; transporting elements from one place to another, and, at the same time, moving others somewhere else. For example an unexpected visit and an attentive look at a number of possessions in the favor – why not?- a sense of community. With the naturalness that we ask a neighbor for some sugar, salt or soap powder or to look after our mail during our absence, why not to ask him in the same way to grant us the use of a part of his living room, an unused bedroom which we have a real need for. (I know houses where rooms are rented with a shared kitchen), cross the courtyard of this house to reach our own or share the clothes line, etc. It would be interesting to discover the limits of generosity of our neighbors and to what extent they are interested in accepting the barter we propose or taking something that belongs to us. It would not be a bad idea to try them out and put them to the test.


In principle, it seems this kind of exchange might come into conflict with spirit of the Spanish Civil Code, which is responsible for the jealously guarding the right to private property, but although projects made according to agreements between the different  parties involved may not be the norm, it is not unlawful. The law leaves the door open to ‘unusual’ property exchanges brought about by this way of working which, regulated by means of rights of way, are the norm…Let us think that this intricate process of lending / acquiring spaces and places is motivated by self-interest, with internal, feasible rules that are invalid off the premises and imply attitudes of personal growth, which are difficult to understand if one is not the interested party. Nevertheless, what has been happening in our centers is further and further away from an interest in coexistence in contact between adjacent buildings. No one wants to have contact with the neighbors and in many cases the distances are starting to be alarming. The isolation often created by replacement architecture is especially dangerous because of the loss of contact with one’s fellow man (party wall) the structural – spatial independence that occurs at home and the appearance of expansion joints between buildings, a novel construction solution in the historical quarter that removes any point of contact and creates a sense of indifference to our fellow human being. On the other hand, building constructed according to an agreement between the parties involved, prevent isolation in favor a sense of community although this may be due to self interest, give rise to spontaneous growth and a kind of behavior that remind us of traditional conduct, such as overlaps, vertical and horizontal couplings, bodies jutting inwards, rights of way, party floors and ceilings, constructions on someone else’s land (direct and inverted land appropriations), etc., that require thorough searches of legislation and lengthy working sessions with legal experts. That is how things stand. Now that everyone wants to keep their property safe, it might be stimulating to build without these obsessions, with fully freedom of movement: upwards and downwards, to the right and left; jump, climb or move diagonally or in zigzag, crossing courtyards and connecting streets. Any movement is possible as long as there is agreement. If we approach the development of the historical quarter as a whole with this intention in mind, the architectural project will be required in order to re-establish an unstable situation after each round of negotiations.


Constructing from this viewpoint involves separating what is public from what is private, and ambiguity that leads inevitably to the establishment of rights of ways, and inconvenience that is accepted as a penitence for a ‘disordered’  and totally uncontrolled colonization, but is also the epitome of generosity and interest and something forgotten or hidden. There is always some unimportant details that takes on a new meaning in the agreement,   is update and made better use of by others. Agreeing and disagreeing speculating on heritage with this good intention, producing interwoven images that transfigure reality and leave scars on the previous state of affairs, is a singular manner of relating its eventful and passionate life.

BIBLIOGRAPHY


BOOKS AND CATALOGS


Arquitectura al Detalle

edit. ETS Arquitectura, Universidad Politécnica y Colegio Territorial Arquitectos

Valencia, 1997


Convocatoria. Vínculos al tiempo (1ª Convocatoria) (Cat.)

edit. Dirección General de Arquitectura y Vivienda, Ministerio de Fomento y Fundación COAM

Madrid, 2000


Espacio y Luz

edit. CMU Albalat

Valencia 2003


Habitar el presente. Vivienda en España: Sociedad, Ciudad, Tecnología y Recursos (Cat.)

edit. Ministerio de la Vivienda

Madrid, 2006 


REVIEWS


AV Monografías nº 83

20 PARA EL XXI. YOUNG EUROPEAN ARCHITECTS

Madrid 2000


Magazine LA VANGUARDIA

ARQUITECTURA EN LA ERA RACIONAL

Barcelona, 13 de mayo 2007


On Diseño nº 202

Barcelona 1999


GUIDES


Guía de Arquitectura de Andalucía Oriental 1975-2000

en Revista Arquitectos nº 159, Terrados Cepeda, J (coordinador)

edit. Consejo Superior de Arquitectos

Madrid 2001


AWARDS


SELECCIONADO PARA LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA

PABELLÓN DE ESPAÑA. 7ª MOSTRA INTERNAZIONALE DI ARCHITETTURA “CITTÁ: LESS AESTHETICS, MORE ETHICS”, Venecia 2000

Organizada: por La Biennale di Venezia, Ministerio de Fomento y Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores


MENCIÓN EN LA CATEGORÍA “VIVIENDA CONSTRUIDA” DEL CONCURSO RESIDENCIA SINGULAR 2004 

Organiza: Ministerio de Vivienda y Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España



EXPOSICITIONS


CALEIDOSCOPIO. ENCUENTROS EN TORNO A LA JOVEN ARQUITECTURA EUROPEA

Exposición colectiva organizada por los Colegios Oficiales de Arquitectos de Andalucía Oriental y Occidental, Facultad de Arquitectura de Oporto y el Instituto de Arquitectura de Venecia.

Exposición itinerante Granada, Sevilla, Oporto y Venecia [1997-2000]


7ª MOSTRA INTERNAZIONALE DI ARCHITETTURA “CITTÁ: LESS AESTHETICS, MORE ETHICS”

BIENNALE DI VENEZIA. PABELLÓN DE ESPAÑA

Exposición colectiva organizada por La Biennale di Venezia, Ministerio de Fomento y Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores

Director: Massimiliano Fuksas, Direttore Settore Architettura di La Biennale di Venezia.  Comisario Pabellón Español: Alberto Campo Baeza

Giardini di Castello Arsenale di Venezia, 18 junio-29 octubre 2000


CONVOCATORIA. VÍNCULOS AL TIEMPO (1ª CONVOCATORIA)

Exposición colectiva organizada por la Dirección General de Arquitectura y Vivienda de la Junta de Andalucía y el Ministerio de Fomento

Comisarios: José Manuel López Peláez y Javier Frechilla

Salas de Exposiciones 2 y 3 de las Arquerías de los Nuevos Ministerios, Madrid, marzo-abril 2000


IN-CINERACIÓN (5ª EDICIÓN)

Producción: Juan Domingo Santos y Carmen F. Sigler

Duración: 8’ 30’’

Exposición colectiva de cortometrajes organizada por Galería de Arte Sandunga

Comisario: Julio Juste Ocaña

Sala de Exposiciones Sandunga, Granada, noviembre 2000


DONDE LA CIUDAD PIERDE SU NOMBRE

Exposición colectiva junto a 40 artistas y arquitectos del panorama nacional contemporáneo organizada por Galería de Arte Sandunga

Sala de Exposiciones Sandunga, Granada, julio-septiembre 2001


ARQUITECTURAS DE AUTOR, 2005-06

Exposición individual organizada por Universidad de Navarra y Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos Vasco-Navarro

Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Navarra, Pamplona, 13-30 marzo 2006


HABITAR EL PRESENTE. VIVIENDA EN ESPAÑA: SOCIEDAD, CIUDAD, TECNOLOGÍA Y RECURSOS

Exposición colectiva itinerante organizada por el Ministerio de la Vivienda

Comisario: Josep María Montaner y Zaida Muxi

Sala de Exposiciones de las Arquerías de los Nuevos Ministerios, Madrid, 30 noviembre 2006 – 26 enero 2007


MUESTRA INTERNACIONAL DEL PATRIMONIO ARQUITECTÓNICO (MIPA) EN FLORENCIA, ITALIA, 2007

Minifestival de video/cortos dentro del Festival IMAGE, en Sesión Temática dedicada a la Arquitectura Española

Comisarios: Marco Brizzi y Alejandro Trinchant

Premier en España: Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Isla de la Cartuja, Sevilla, otoño 2006

Itinerancia: Milán (Italia), 13-30 septiembre 2007: Florencia (Italia), marzo 2008; y Berlín, Sala Aedes (Alemania) mayo 2008.

CREDITS


Location:

BARRIO SAN MATÍAS, GRANADA


Project:

1989/1999


Architect:

JUAN DOMINGO SANTOS


Collaborators:

JAVIER CASTELLANO PULIDO

CARMEN MORENO ÁLVAREZ

ALEJANDRO MUÑOZ


Project manager and budget:

JUAN DOMINGO TORRES

MANUEL MARTÍN HERRERO


Law Consultation:

MERCEDES LÓPEZ

RAMÓN SORIANO



Juan Domingo Santos