In progress: Ocaña de España / Manuel Ocaña

Residential buildings have always been an issue among architects. From on side, you have a developer who wants the best out of his money, usually leaving behind what we think matters – which sometimes does, but most of the times doesn´t… out of several -complex- variables which at the end have to make a project feasible.

It´s not that i´m a  pesimist. Actually, there are great residential buildings, on which architects have dealt with this complex variables resulting in projects on which “architecture” is an added value.

On this panorama, which happens on every country, I´d like to share with you a residential project being built by Manuel Ocaña, a spanish architect we have previously featured on ArchDaily with some interesting works (Yaya House, Rota House).

This project for 53 dwellings between party walls can be described through its tectonic (Roca Port Aventura in the stereotomic plinth of the two first floors of housing, plus buildings that, resting on the former, are rounded off with canvas roofs with silkscreen-printed tiles), or through its virtues of “non-extrusion” and “non-metaphor”. But the best way to explain this bizarre, unbridled, dislocated and autistic project is with a generous text by Roberto González García:

“The project Ocaña de España stemmed from a commission that, from the outset, was determined by a referent that ought not to be questioned: the developer and, at the same time, contractor. This client wanted to build in Ocaña a project “from Cuenca on the outside”, but “‘all-out modern’ on the inside”. We suggested building the Hanging Houses of Cuenca, or rather, a representation of these that could transfer, one by one, the most characteristic features of the historic complex, in an almost literal manner. Hence the recreation had to be achieved building the rock on the two first floors and completing the two following ones with the aforementioned Hanging Houses, a replica in every sense.

The formalization of the replica began with the rigorous transcription, word for word, of the attributes that define the objective of the project. Where it says rock, rock. The typical lookouts of Cuenca and the quaint volumetry are gradually superimposed in the design so that it appears to be literal, even though it is not truly so. Literal? Without a figurative sense? Is the gaze really so innocent? Here, at least two realities intertwine, but there are more, as many as there are senses that one can or wishes to give. The scheme of the project rests on the same foundations those two levels of reality so often doomed to meet and perhaps to not understand one another, which insert architecture in the field of the production of goods that, despite having the same form, do not share the same meanings. An experiment by way of operational realism (Bourriaud, 2001) that represents the drama of architecture in parody key. After all, one must be very serious to not enjoy a comedy.”

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Cite: David Basulto. "In progress: Ocaña de España / Manuel Ocaña" 04 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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