Alberto Campo Baeza


Can the nature be built? Can the architecture build the nature? Can the architects build the landscape?

The building built by the architects Javier Fresneda and Javier Sanjuan in the Campus de Cantoblanco of La Universidad Autonoma de Madrid is a piece of built architecture, well built architecture.

The architects in a tour de force, far from easy, have planned and resolved with rigor and brilliance an crucial problem in the contemporary architecture, in the always debated relation between architecture and nature. They were demanded some buildings to accommodate different services of the university and they gave them a Plaza Mayor. They gave them ''liebre por gato'', already since the competition that they won with this project in 2007.
Enough of closely analyzing the plans, impeccable, in which the free contour is built in an efficient dialogue with the topography, forming part of it, shaping it. And also the interior of these plans, all these also arranged in an impeccable manner.
But the most important thing, that that the most interests us, is the central idea of this building which is a non-building, is a non-natural nature, artificial. With the blessed artificiality of the architecture, artifact. This central idea is to convert the artifact in a circulation cross space, capable of connecting all the … of the open campus of this university.

This building (building?) is not a construction that takes advantage of the roofs , making them passable. What are doing now many others planting lawn on the roof for being able to declare themselves sustainable and modern.
They didn't ''take advantage of the roofs'' in order to later plant grass on it and make them crossable. In fact its the exact opposite, they proposed a special mechanism to cross and stitch the campus, some plans and ramps, paths that connect, and they put underneath these plans, inside them, the requested functions.
Here, by the hand of the topography and nature, has been done the reverse. A transit has been defined, a crossroad, a promenade architecturale, and then in its interior, has been arranged the demanded functions.
Here a landscape has been built and in its interior has been placed all the services , the canteens and the cafeterias. The parking, has been used as a material for the project in order to wear the whole topographically, instead of digging the usual basement.

Before, the Plaza Mayor were formed by the aligned buildings in its perimeter,
both in their facades as in the ledge, and they used to be rectangular or square.
In the antique Plaza Mayor, the buildings served the empty space. Here the empty serves the central space which the services area articulated around it.
The Plaza is constituted like this in a space whose form is established by the architects as a premise, in this case like a crossroad in the vast city of Universidad de la Autonoma in this open campus.
If before the buildings adapt themselves to the form, here the form of the plaza, differently, adapts itself to the buildings which constitute it.
If before the plaza was crossed to access the buildings which it was serving, here the buildings are crossed from above and the Plaza (plaza?) is a void to breath, like the background of the figure.

Some of the new generation architects, afraid of not being modern, follow the impositions of the magazines, incline and fold, rotate and twist whiteout any sense. And plant gardens on the roofs or on the walls or wherever possible . Just because it takes.
In this project, Fresneda and Sanjuan have inclined and folded and rotated and twisted, always with criterion, and have built a piece of nature in the continuity of the existing. They built their own landscape.
Fresneda and Sanjuan, which already showed that they can temper the bull of architecture, here have done a masterpiece.
They already understood very well, with a new and efficient optic, the problem of the architectures relation with the nature in their magnificent building of Amplicacion de la Facultad de Farmacia de la Universidad Complutense, in the middle of the University City in Madrid.
They raised there a long box with a full facade of mirrors in the north, able to reflect the poplar forest which has been planted before in the south. The result is very beautiful in its simplicity.
In both cases, in both buildings, they turned into reality their intention of building nature with architecture. Hopefully most of the building that has been built and are being built for the university, have been done by such great architects like them. Fresneda and Sanjuan, Masters.

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