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
Manuel, Barcelona now will never be the same for me.
You will notbe there anymore.
In the midst of lots of snow, at 2000 meters above sea level, the news of your death reached us very late on the 17th of March. To accept this message as reality was hard and will be hard for a long time to come. Deeper into the mind this sad fact will only seep slowly and only when I stand in front of your grave and miss you in your city and in the Catalan hinterland. Manuel and Barcelona to me were one and the same. The nearness to you and the nearness to Barcelona for me went hand-in-hand and intensified and solidified themselves all the time. I have known you since 1977. In that year Anthony Sutcliffe had convened an international conference on the history of town planning, taking place from the 14th to the 18th of September in London’s Bedford College in Regent’s Park. Peter Collins, Alberto Mioni, Peter Marcuse, Franco Mancuso, Gordon Cherry, Carlo Olmo and many others were amongst the participants. I do not remember whether you gave a lecture and proved yourself as the Cerdà adept that you were. Of our farewell I have a precise picture, since it contained the promise of seeing each other again.
With your help, in 1983 I was able to offer my Delft architecture students an extraordinary program (June 25 to July 10) in the Catalan metropolis. Leafing through my calendar, I found out that next to you I also met Maria Rubert, Josep Parcerisa and Joan Busquets already there and then.
My submersion into the city went deeper than the mere knowledge of facts of town planning and architecture. Through you I learned about the charisma of the city: about restaurants such as Bilbao, Amaya, Punyalada, Set Portes and such an exceptional place as La Paloma. You let me experience Maria del Mar Bonet next to the cathedral. As I write these lines, I am listening to her songs:
“si tu te fas la lluna,
la lluna del cel blau,
jo me faré el núovol
I et vindré a tapar”.
Now and then you gave me music. Not so long ago, Rosa and you gave me Bebo & Cigala’s LágrimasNegras:
“Sufro la immensa pena de tu extravio,
siento el dolor profundo de tua partida”.
We have talked over the phone and exchanged letters. Already on the envelope, your dancing letters, written with a delicate pen, betrayed the sender. This refinement also characterised your sketches. Again and again we exchanged books. One of mine, about Cornelis van Eesteren, I dedicated to you, because you encouraged me to write an article about the Dutch “Ciamist” in the journal you founded, Urbanismo Revista.
On February 27, 1984 you were standing in front of the door of my Delft canal house. Your concern was to find prototypes for the Dutch bascule bridges you integrated into your pioneering Moll de la Fusta project, which you did successfully. Once we thoroughly leafed through books on Grand and Grand Oriental Palace Hotels together. You were planning to visit some of them when you took your daughter Maria on a round-the-world trip.
In 1985 you invited guests for your birthday to Artà. Since you are dead, I have to think how many more times and gladly you would have liked to be there with Rosa, your family and friends. The post-graduate courses you held in April and May of 1991 to 1993 were special events. You not only knew how to entice the crème de la crème of architecture into the Casa de la Caritat, people like Richard Sennett, Bernardo Secchi and Rem Koolhaas, you also made the coming together of students and lecturers a total work of art through your enthusiasm and imagination. In the curriculum of these courses you attributed an important role to my concept of “Great Metropolises” and I am thankful for that. With Josep Ramoneda we planned an exhibition project named “The Belly of the Metropolis”.
Your creativity again and again achieved the extraordinary. When we met for the last time in Barcelona in October of 2010, we spoke about your production of neckties in 1994, depicting Ildefonso Cerdà, Tony Garnier and Frank Lloyd Wright. Eccentric neckties were one of your hallmarks. You loved colours. You loved good wine. You loved decent food. It was a delight to cook for you when Rosa and you came to see Axel and me and when, with your characteristically restrained curiosity, you explored the Lower Rhine area and the Ruhr. Earlier we were allowed to get to know the residence of your ancestors in Olot. Another special memory for me is the Mare de Déu de la Misericordia festival in Reus on September 25, 2004. I had come, like always armed with Dutch cheese and tulips to see your exuberant Forum 2004 exposition Ciudades, Esquinas in Barcelona. And how could it be otherwise: Before this festival that is held only every twenty-five years, we had an excellent meal at a fish restaurant in Cambrils.
In 2029 the next “Mare de Déu” Festival will be held. You would have been ninety then. But now you are dead. There is no possibility to look into your gentle eyes anymore, to see the subdued smile that was so typical for you or to participate in your flights of fantasy, your intellect, your irony.
We are missing you and we would have loved to be with you and Rosa in Berlin./ Delft