Grafting Architecture: Catalonia at Venice

Catalonia is returning for the second time to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale with the Collateral Event Arquitectures Empeltades / Grafting Architecture. Referencing the botanical process of grafting, the proposal seeks to elucidate the changes taking place in contemporary Catalan architecture by highlighting processes in which “living traditions” are being updated as new.

More on "Grafting Architecture" after the break...

Just as grafting can permanently unite two trees, preexisting structures can be modernized, or grafted, with a new proposal that generates a building that is both contemporary and recognizable. This idea of “grafted architecture” can be identified across many centuries. However, according to curator Josep Torrents i Alegre, “it is in the last quarter of the 20th century and the early 21st century where we find a great number of projects in Catalan architecture in which proposals of different types and scales achieve brilliant results.”

Restoration of Casa Bofarull (1913-1933) / Josep Maria Jujol. Image © Guillem Carabi; Courtesy of Institut Ramon Llull

The starting point for Grafting Architecture is the restoration of Casa Bofarull (1913-1933), one of the key works of Josep Maria Jujol (1879-1949). In this Jujol “does not relate to the buildings by undertaking taxidermic restorations, historicist interventions or additive reforms; he transforms the structures into something new but at once recognizable.”

Casa Bofarull allows the exhibition to explore an architectural attitude that is timeless. Accompanying the project will be IES La Llauna in Badalona (1984-56, Carme Pinós and Enric Miralles), Espai La Lira in Ripoll (2004-11, RCR Arquitectes and Joan Puigcorbé), and the Transmitter Space for the Megalithic Tumulus / Dolmen in Seró (2007-2013, Toni Gironès) - all projects that “work with pre-existing constructions and are the result of layering concepts in which traditional materials are reinterpreted, inserted in the territory, and engaged in dialogue.” 

Transmitter Space for the Megalithic Tumulus/Dolmen (2007-2013) / Toni Gironès. Image Courtesy of Institut Ramon Llull

The four buildings selected enable deeper comprehension of an attitude shared by other architectural examples. Thus a selection of twelve projects through which different  ways of approaching different problems can be traced is being presented: 

  • Apartments in La Pedrera (1953-1955, Francisco Juan Barba Corsini)
  • Restoration of the Church of L’Hospitalet (1981-1984, José Antonio Martínez Lapeña & Elias Torres Tur Architects)
  • Caldereria Petita House in Gelida (2001-2002, Calderon - Folch - Sarsanedas Arquitectes)
  • Can Framis Museum in Barcelona (2007-2009, BAAS Arquitectura)
  • Juan Apartment in Barcelona (2011, Vora arquitectura)
  • Auditorium of Saint Francesc Church in Santpedor (2003-2011, David Closes)
  • Three stations of Barcelona Metro Line 9: Amadeu Torner, Parc Logístic and Mercabarna (2008-2011, Garcés - De Seta - Bonet Arquitectes & i Ingeniería Tec-4 - Ferran Casanovas, Antonio Santiago i Felipe Limongi)
  • Arenys de Munt Health Center – Can Zariquiey (2006-2013, Miàs Arquitectes)
  • Cultural Center Casal Balaguer in Palma (1996 – under construction, Flores&Prats Arquitectes & Duch-Pizá)
  • Vall d’en Joan landfill in Begues (2002 - under construction, Enric Batlle, Joan Roig and Teresa Galí I Izard)
  • Tower with 94 subsidized housing units (2012- under construction, Josep Llinàs)
  • Project to Revive and develop the area of Adhamyia in Baghdad (2012 – under construction, AV62 Arquitectos & Pedro García del Barrio & Pedro Azara)

La Lira Public Theater Space (2004-2011) / RCR Arquitectes. Image © Hisao Suzuki; Courtesy of Institut Ramon Llull

The exhibition will present the phased process each architect underwent during the drafting and construction of the selected projects. In addition to this, the perception of each completed structure will be reviewed, revealing just how the grafted architecture reunited with its landscape. 

Torrents i Alegre will be joined by two assistant curators in curating the exhibition: Guillem Carabí, an architect in charge of the section dedicated to Jujol, and Jordi Ribas, a cultural manager in charge of the Actions. 

You can learn more about Arquitectures Empeltades / Grafting Architecture here.

About this author
Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Grafting Architecture: Catalonia at Venice" 13 May 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.