Valentina Acierno
Vicens Vidal
Victor Rahola
Xabier Eizaguirre
Xabier Unzurrunzaga
Xavier Fàbregas
Xavier Monteys
Xavier Rubert de Ventós
Zaida Muxí
Àlex Giménez
Amador Ferrer
Angel Martín
Anton Pàmies
Antoni Llena
Antoni Marí
Antonio Font
Aquiles González
Ariella Masboungi
Axel Fohl
Beth Galí
I have followed Manuel’s work for more than 20 years. He invited me to teach in the master course Periphery as a project in 91-92 during the period the Illa Diagonal was under construction. Barcelona in those years was taking a central position in architecture and urbanism, and the LUB was clearly playing a decisive role in this development. The master course took place in an old theatre under restoration in the ciutat vella. I recall with my eyes closed the ambiance of the studio, the various events and the high quality of people from different professions and countries who Manuel with unquestioned authority had asked to collaborate with him on the project. Most architects and magazines were at that time focusing on “Urban Space” and “reconstructing the city” as a reaction to conventional “modern architecture”. It was in this climate that Manuel suggested an interest in territories without a model. The studio was physically and mentally a construction site in the middle of a congested city – as was the site of Illa Diagonal – and it was in this thorough, double- or triple-acting condition of a consciousness of the things in the city surrounding us, an awareness of the vital, urban transforming forces and an intuition about the connecting urbanistic innovation, that the depth and complexity of Manuel’s human and professional intellect influenced the entire situation Over the years, we remained in contact on several occasions in various European cities. Walking through Copenhagen at night, when architectonic sensibilities are most acute – as Corbu put it – Manuel expressed his sensation of Copenhagen’s Baltic character. Character was the foundation, the important issue to understand and to consider in .
the urban architecture. It was his gift to be highly sensitive to this matter and to be able to put this sensitivity at work in his projects. Manuel was not interested in “context” as a still life but in the character of the place created by use and access and by the terrain; the mixed functions, the urban traffic passing through and the section of the site.
The last time I met with Manuel was in Barcelona in 2008, he was giving a lecture at a conference and I had a chance to have a closer look at some of the new building in the city. I passed by the Torre Agbar and I remember mentioning to Manuel that I was intrigued by the building’s interior, intrigued by the fact that this high-rise building was somehow blind and not exploiting its privileged view from the inside. Manuel answered bluntly: “I don’t like it”. Later that day he brought to my hotel a new book with a note:
“Dear Juel sorry for such a short encounter, I hope the book will be of some interest to you, with best wishes Manuel”. The cover of the book was his perspective drawing of a night view of the intervention he proposed for Het Eijlande in Antwerp. The line of the traffic, the intersecting corners and the different scales of the buildings in his drawing stated quite clearly his opinion about the role of high-rise buildings. He did not have to expand his argument in verbal terms. It was obvious that he felt that another building in Barcelona with a similar program, the Torre Mare Nostrum (Gas Natural), was a better answer to the problem of inserting high-rise buildings into the urban fabric. I see this building now as one of many strong manifestations of Manuel’s influence on the architecture of Barcelona through his gifted students and colleagues.
Cities, Corners, the 2004exhibition and its catalogue stands as one more of his seminal contributions to the urban architecture culture. His quotation from Aristotle, “people who are the same cannot make a city” points out at an increasingly important issue in the political and cultural discussion of urban development in a global perspective. In a recent project of mine for a building in central Copenhagen I paid homage to Manuel and his inspiring conceptualizations in explicating the corner as an encounter of different facades. Working on the project I had in mind his words: The corners of the city reveal to us, in diverse forms and situations, this condition of place of encounter, of superposition and of conflict. Contrary to the thinking of a misguided urbanism, it is not the idea of order that shapes the city, but the idea of difference: difference plus coincidence defines the corner, and that is also a definition of the city. / Copenhaguen