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Valparaíso School

Valparaíso School: Open City Group

Rodrigo Pérez de Arce
Fernando Pérez Oyarzun
Edited by Raúl Rispa
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Valparaíso School
    Book Description:

    The Valparaíso School, as it became known, acquired an international reputation for its radical stance and its commitment to dialogue between architects and other disciplines. Since 1970 the Valparaíso School has focused much of its research and design activity on the Open City (Ciudad Abierta) project, created by a group of architects, artists, poets, and engineers with a vision of a city with "no master plan, no imposed ordering devices, and no hierarchical networks of infrastructure." Originally set up as a laboratory-type environment, this alternative community has since become the place of residence and work for many people. Valparaíso School: Open City Group provides insight into this radical experiment in urban development through a series of essays and photographs.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7433-5
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-7)
  3. The Valparaiso School
    (pp. 8-12)
    Fernando Pérez Oyarzún

    In 1952, a group of young architects led by Alberto Cruz and the Argentine poet Godofredo lommi moved from Santiago de Chile to the city of Viña del Mar, next to the port of Valparaiso. Having accepted contracts with the Catholic University of Valparaiso, they had come to teach at the School of Architecture founded some decades before. The Rector of the University, the Jesuit Jorge Gonzalez, had initially invited Alberto Cruz, who had been teaching at the Catholic University of Chile, in Santiago. Cruz and lommi, who had become friends and co- operated at an intellectual level for several...

  4. So far yet so near: the Open City and the Travesias
    (pp. 13-18)
    Rodrigo Pérez de Arce

    1.The architectural projects undertaken by the Valparaiso group can be divided into three groups: professional commissions, the Open City, andtraversías.The first adopted a more usefull format, while those in tne Open city have been undertaken by the community as a whole, with the roles of architect, client, and often inhabitent, coinciding. Thetraversíaworks, self-managed and self-constructed like those of the Open City, are spread throughout Chile and the American continent but were not intended for the use of the authors.

    Each of these groups represented specific modes of relationship between author and work: the first group represents...

  5. Selected Works

    • Achupallas Urban Development
      (pp. 20-23)

      The Achupallas estate, which covered around 1,000 hectares, was at the edge of Vina del Mar. Lying in the lower foothills of the coastal mountain chain which forms the geographical backbone of the city to the east, the site had been chosen for building a major ensemble of workers’ housing. Sergio La’rain and Emilio Duhart were initially commissioned to do the work and together they drew up an ambitious urban design project. The Institute of Architecture of the Catholic University of Valparaiso offered them the possibility to prepare an alternative study. They would each develop their different perspectives for a...

    • Los Pajaritos Chapel
      (pp. 24-27)

      Set in the Los Pajaritos estate to the west of the city of Santiago, this small memorial chapel, despite the fact it was never built, played a fundamental role in the architectural production and the body of ideas of the Valparaiso group. Initially commissioned to one of its members, it was adopted as a collective task in 1952. As stated previously, publication of its design, together with that of Achupallas urban development in theAnnalsof the Catholic University of Valparaiso in 1954, converted both into a kind of manifesto of the ideas of the school.

      The land was at...

    • Naval Academy
      (pp. 28-31)

      With the working and teaching methods of the School in Valparaiso now consolidated, at least in an initial phase, the competition for a new building for the Naval Academy, which would involve a change of location and increase capacity, presented the group with an excellent opportunity to enter the public arena and put its convictions into practice in the context of a major project. The architect Carlos Bresciani-partner in the distinguished firm Bresciani, Valdes, Castillo and Huidobro and appointed dean of the Faculty around the same time as the arrival of the group of new professors at the School-was a...

    • Avenida del Mar
      (pp. 32-35)

      This initiative came about as a counterproposal to the Ministry of Public Works’ Via Elevada overpass project for a 4.5-km-long coastal viaduct to satisfy the demands of vehicular traffic in the Valparaiso-Vina del Mar conurbation, which would without doubt lead to an irreversible degradation of the urban coastline. In the face of this, the whole of the School became a Workshop with the specific objective of creating an alternative design constrained by the same budgetary limitations as the official project.

      The Avenida del Mar was one of a series of large-scale works, such as the Achupallas urban development project (1954)...

    • Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Trinity
      (pp. 36-41)

      The history of this monastery has been linked with that of the Valparaiso School, in different ways and for various reasons. After a Benedictine community was founded in Chile, under the authority of the French community in Solesmes through Quarr Abbey in England, it settled provisionally in Las Condes, to the east of Santiago, next to the lower foothills of the Andes mountain chain. Once the community had acquired a plot of land on the nearby Los Piques hill on which to settle permanently, several offices were invited to take part in a private competition. This was won, in 1954,...

    • Casa Cruz
      (pp. 42-47)

      The house in Calle Jean Mermoz, in Santiago, was managed by Fabio Cruz, an architect belonging to the group which founded the School, as a commission for a relative. It was a significant work, not only because of its theoretical content and its undoubted interest in terms of form, but also because it was the first work in which members of the Valparaiso group participated to be actually built. The presence of graduates and later year students in the design and construction process made it an important precedent for what was to evolve as the school’s way of doing things....

    • Southern Churches
      (pp. 48-55)

      Earthquakes have marked the history of architecture in Chile. When the country was a colony, the weak constructions made of earth were frequently destroyed. Earthquakes were even regarded as historical milestones which signalled the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. In 1906 a severe earthquake destroyed Valparaiso. The earthquakes in Talca (1928) and Chilian (1939) not only caused death and destruction in the centre and south of the country, but forced a change in the technical standards which governed construction. In 1960, one of the most powerful earthquakes on record occurred, with the city of...

    • Open City
      (pp. 56-65)

      Along with the program of travesias, it is without doubt at the Open City where, by circumventing the framework of action of normal professional practice, the architects of Valparaiso have literally constructed a way of “doing” architecture in experimental conditions. Both undertakings, subject to strict budgetary contingencies and restrictions, are fully autonomous in nature, with the architects also taking on the role of managers or clients. It is for this reason that both projects enjoy an unusual degree of propositional freedom. The Open City is the site of the greatest concentration of works managed by the group and inspired by...

    • Music Room
      (pp. 66-71)

      Faithful to the spirit of the ensemble, this inaugural work rejected the conventions of the spa town (such as the pre-eminence of the visual impact of the landscape), and instead turned in upon itself to create a place of meeting around music. A result of the desire to give priority to the creation of communal spaces over everyday sites, the Music Room was constructed before the buildings intended to provide accommodation. The Room deals with the relationship between music and space through the manipulation of light. And it is located in an area where the sound of the waves is...

    • Palace of Dawn and Dusk
      (pp. 72-77)

      One of the most enigmatic pieces of the Open City, lacking any program and almost always empty, this structure of 986 sq. metres provides an insight into the procedures which inspired the construction of the ensemble. As with other buildings in the Open City, the project was initially intended as an open-ended work, to be built in stages without any definite idea of the final configuration. At one point, however, an agora decided that the work was finished, and its development was frozen at that moment.

      The name of the work is an allusion to the pivotal nature of the...

    • House of Names
      (pp. 78-85)

      The hidden meaning of the work (reflected in its name) was indicated in a poetic act or phalène, as was its location on a stretch of moving sands on the border between the dunes and the esplanade of marsh. It was built to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Institute of Architecture, as an exhibition pavilion and agora or assembly area for around 400 people. In this way, the commemorative exhibition held each decade could be hosted in the Open City, and would include material from thetravesiasof America.

      Teachers and “circle” workshops participated jointly in...

    • Wanderer’s Lodge
      (pp. 86-97)

      The first work, begun in 1981, was carried out with metallic and masonry parts donated to the Open City. Only the basic structure was ever built. This was left exposed to the destructive effects of time until the research project enabled it to be approached anew, as a search for a grading of the power of the elements.

      The second stage of this work, involving the remodelling and reformulation of the first, formally embodied the identity of the project as research by registering it with the National Council of Scientific Research program, thereby submitting it to the rigours of the...

    • Henri Tronquoy Agora and Vestal
      (pp. 98-101)

      The poet Henri Tronquoy was temporarily associated with the Valparaiso group, from which he was prematurely separated by his demise in a plane crash over the Caribbean on the way back to France from Valparaiso. This pioneering work was built in his memory.

      Located above the sands, the Agora comprises a springy upper walkway, which threads its way towards the Caribbean and a rhomboidal esplanade, whose floor is divided into an area of combed sand and a section of hard flooring, the undulating surface of which induces balance control of the body and the distance taken up between people in...

    • Double or Banquet Lodge
      (pp. 102-107)

      The notion oftrabajo en rondoor “work in a circle” becomes clear in this project, the product of multiple related initiatives. Taking the two end nuclei as a starting point, the addition of a third element, calledEl Confin, gave the ensemble a sense of unity. Its external expression is almost chaotic and barely intelligible, as opposed to the Music Room and other designs, whose perception is always clear. The design was developed from the inside out through a series of successive operations of conception and construction of the perimeter, whereby the enlargement is evidence of a transition from...

    • Temple, Cemetery and Gully
      (pp. 108-113)

      Aphalèneor poetry-reading act was held before building work commenced on the site. Four fires were consecutively lit at the end of four paths. The reading began while the first fire was burning. By the end of that reading the following fire was already burning. Lines were paced out between each of the fires to create a trapezoid that marked the layout of the work.

      In the cemetery, located on the floor of a gully, the values of the landscape predominate: ground, vegetation and views. The foliage consists mainly of a tight mass of indigenous perennial trees and bushes,...

    • Prototype Workshop
      (pp. 114-121)

      The workshop was built by Object Design students during a period oftravesiain two work shifts, each one lasting three weeks and formed by a group of 16 students who first prefabricated the construction elements and later assembled them on site. The excavation work and the masonry were carried out by skilled workers. The half-buried interior has two main walls-an open wall made of glass and a closed wall leaning against the ground-and can be accessed from both sides. The worktables were planned by designers, as were the lighting mechanisms. The upper plane, occupied by structural systems, generates a...

    • Works in Travesías
      (pp. 122-134)

      As there were nearly a hundred of these experiences, it is only natural that a large degree of diversity should manifest itself within the genre. As regards the motivations behind thesetravesías, some were undertaken at the request of a director of municipal works, while others came about as a direct result of anAmereidaimperative. All of them, however, constituted a field of specific teaching experience of an educational nature, a field which stimulated the sense of opportunity of each undertaking, the capacity for improvisation, organization and the group sense. Little by little, the network of journeys undertaken covered...

  6. Works and Designs
    (pp. 135-151)
  7. Biography and Chronology
    (pp. 152-160)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 161-165)
  9. Glossary
    (pp. 166-168)