The Barcelona-based educator and architect brings her experiential vision and inclusive aesthetic to the most recent instalment of MPavilion.
The Barcelona-based educator and architect brings her vision to MPavilion
It’s a truth universally acknowledged of long-haul travel that flying west is best, but east is a beast. This certainty was volubly suffered by Spanish architect Carme Pinós when she recently jetted to Melbourne to meet the press and progresscheck her scheme for the fifth MPavilion — the demountable architect-designed forum for creative doings founded by businesswoman Naomi Milgrom. Appearing deceptively fresh in Dries Van Noten florals, Pinós fielded questions about her concept for Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens until the ‘lag’ messed with her command of language. “Lo siento,” she says, apologising for the impact of a schedule that serially switches between project offices in Spain, Mexico, the US, France and Australia. “The work is now everywhere, but I was so motivated to do this after meeting Naomi in London. We bonded over the Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion exhibition [at the Victoria and Albert Museum]. She is so open and interesting. You can feel it in this amazing office.”
Sitting within the private sanctum of Milgrom’s Sussan Corporation — a complex that testifies to its owner’s proclivity for challenging contemporary art and architecture — Pinós tells of the women’s shared interest in the simple, graphic grace of Balenciaga’s couture and their mutual commitment to a socially inclusive architecture that asks the big questions. “The idea of architecture as a humanist concern is being lost,” Pinós says in reference to her teaching commitments at the academies — most recently, as recipient of the Berkeley-Rupp Architecture Professorship & Prize at the University of California. “Universities prepare students to be contracted to big firms, but the reflection on what it means to be an architect, I do not find. Architecture is not just ››
‹‹ to resolve the problem of the roof; it is to resolve the issue of structure as a conduit to culture.” Pinós’s hopes for an equitable architecture are evidenced in buildings, bridges and urban plans that promote a “recuperative dignity” through their village-like interactions — an apparent randomness of crossroads seeking to catalyse relationships. She builds for a sense of ‘belonging’, with a basic materiality in such signature structures as the CaixaForum Zaragoza cultural and exhibition centre in Spain (2014) and the Cube I Tower (2005) in Guadalajara, Mexico, whose model features in the permanent collection of MoMA.
The Cube I Tower, a typology-tipping high-rise, makes the magical point about conceptual contradictions coexisting in a construct that favours none and benefits all. It manifests the dichotomies of modern life — the tensions between the monumental and the modest, the inner and the outer, the individual and the collective, future and past, male and female. Indeed, the current equity debate begs a question of Pinós: has she had to prove herself as a female in the world of architecture? “Absolutely,” she says, bemoaning an abstract, aggressive, competitive global culture that desperately needs the sensibility of women. “We are genetically programmed for empathy, and it is increasingly lacking in this world. But in a way, I don’t want to think about it because I just do the work. It is definitely more difficult to find work as a woman like me, completely alone, but I am wellknown in the academy, and I win true competitions.” Talking ‘true’ in terms of real buildings with real budgets rather than ideas competitions that rarely result in the build, Pinós flaunts a formidable portfolio of wins. Since establishing her own studio in 1991, she has quietly redressed the ‘exclusionary’ in edifice and plan. So how will her empathy express in a Melbourne park? Pinós illustrates her version of a ‘utopian’ pavilion with renders of an openended space, enclosed by a geometric abstraction of folding timber-batten screens that suggest a pergola — a Mediterranean archetype for filtering harsh light that speaks to her coastal upbringing and the climate and melting-pot culture of Melbourne.
“It is simple but full of shadows,” Pinós says.
“I like these archaic shapes, where the outside contaminates the inside, and universal connections are made between the layers.
La poesia [the poetry] of pragmatism.” VL
MPavilion 2018 will be open and free to the public from 8 October, 2018–3 February, 2019. Visit mpavilion.org
“It is definitely more difficult to find work as a woman like me, completely alone, but I am well-known in the academy, and I win true competitions”
Spanish architect Carme Pinós at M Pavilion founder Naomi Milgrom’s headquarters in Melbourne.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP a Pinósdesigned concrete and ceramic crematorium in Igualada, Spain. The inclining façades of the Catalan government headquarters in Tortosa, Spain. A study model of this year’s MPavilion in Melbourne. The airy Cube I Tower in Guadalajara, Mexico.