February 29: 1924: arquitectura emocional

2012/02/29 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1924 Agustín Hernández Navarro was born.

Presently near the end of his sixth decade in practice, Navarro has based his reputation in the design of architecture that based in local culture.  Unlike “critical realism” based in vernacular traditions (arquitectura popular), Navarro’s “emotional architecture” (his term) draws from symbols of famous Pre-Columbian archaeological sites and monumental structures of historical significance.  Formally abstracted and articulated in industrial/contemporary materials, his buildings are not abstract Modernism of the International, placeless order: the elements of Navarro’s architecture remain recognizable, communicative, literal (although, as in the case of any abstraction, sometimes to intended, and sometimes unintended, effects).

At the Heroico Colegio Militar, which was built outside of Mexico City in 1971, a super-scaled mask of the Mayan rain god oversees activities in the central square.  The broad site comprises flat-topped pyramids and plateaus arranged on a collection of formal axes at the scale of vast Mesoamerican ceremonial sites.  Although the Colegio has been highly succesful and is roundly well-regarded, Navarro’s later work has revealed some limits to his abstractions: the striking concrete Edificio Calakmul of 1997 captures something of the scale and monumentality of the nearby Maya archaeological site, yet still has earned the unimpressive nickname La Lavadora (“the washing machine”).

image: Heroico Colegio Militar (from this source)

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You are currently reading February 29: 1924: arquitectura emocional at Clio’s Calendar: Daily Musings on Architectural History.

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