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The opinions of the critics
Adolfo González Amézqueta
The talent of Fisac is a hard talent, hurtful, a talent which is deliberately clumsy, overcoming the apparent contradiction in such a statement. He is a man of reality, energy prevails over refinement.
In the first period of Miguel Fisac’s career, the tenacious statements of his first twenty years in pursuit of a security, a reference, an operative rule: years of experiments, splendid, tumultuous, dramatic; the testimony to a cultural rescue which leaves us at the doors of the brutalist and methodological gambit with which Fisac would define the last ten years of his career.
“Las iglesias de Fisac”.Adolfo González Amézqueta. “Hogar y Arquitectura" Magazine Nº 57. 1965
Alberto Campo Baeza
If it was necessary to qualify the beauty of Fisac’s architecture, I would describe it as rebellious. With the rebelliousness implied by a deep creation which is beyond fashions, it disregards them. With the rebelliousness implied by creating an architecture that has its foundations in thought, at a time when superficiality appears to have triumphed from the frivolous show case of the numerous magazines that assault the senses of architects.
Fisac always started from thought, there are always reasons which explain his work. The form, the shapes, are decisions which some always resolved by resorting to fashion, and others, as was the case with Miguel Fisac, resorted to thought. There are reasons for the pagoda shape of the Jorba Laboratories. The form of the moulded concrete in his ‘flexible formwork’ is clearly explicable. There is an obvious logic, almost pedagogical in his ‘bones’. An epitome of reasons. And if beauty has been, is, and always will be the only true dangerous revolution in this society which has opted for a mediocre stability, then Miguel Fisac has set himself up as the architect of this rebellious beauty.
"la Belleza rebelde". Alberto Campo Baeza. "Arquitectos" Magazine Nº 135, p. 83. 1995.
Alberto Morell Sixto
What Fisac proposes is a dynamic space separate from the space itself. A space enclosed in its interior condition, the most characteristic, with almost no contact with the exterior, where the architectonic elements are arranged in such a manner that one can perceive the physical movement of the space. Space has a lot more to do with the Basilica of Santa Sofia or the Alhambra than with the architecture of the Modern Movement, or with modern-day architecture. A space which is always formed starting from the juxtaposition of one or more static elements, apparently at rest, with another or other dynamic elements –appearing to be in movement. It is fixed or limited by referring to what is dematerialized or dissolves. In this way the arrangement of the container, the matter, means that what is contained –the space, the most architectonic element, overflows towards the horizon of the infinite.
"Miguel Fisac, el espacio dinámico". Alberto Morell Sixto. Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Castilla-La Mancha. Guadalajara 2005.
Antón González Capitel
The case of Fisac supposed, apart from the whole, four different architectonic exercises, four experiences of mediating between two extreme cultures, the four are of unequal approach and fortune, but all of them are united by a strong imprint of their author’s skill. Mediation between classicism and modernity and an almost puritan constructive concern which solidly related him to the Madrid tradition and all his specific predecessors there. An unequal approach and fortune, which showed the effects of time, we have already commented on the church, the first exercise, and perhaps the most risky. The Institute of Edaphology –the propylaea on Serrano, is a transferring to Madrid of the entrance to the University of Rome by Foschini, and the Central Pavilion –a simplification of the classical temple, also done in the ‘Roman’ style of that time –more conventional and scenographic, more postmodern, and enclosing a compact building on which he superimposed the portico of a temple as just an image. As scenography it is interesting, above all for the details of the inscription and the Corinthian capital, this being close to the more simple interior order of the church. In the Instituto de Optica (1948), Fisac relates to the Rockefeller Building even in the brick used and with the intention of it being a unitary piece which occupies the whole of the north side of the square, and thereby beginning his transition to the modernity he wished to embrace. The delicate element of the entrance and, above all, the interiors, are proof of what he wished to pursue, and the right way of achieving it.
"La construcción de la Colina de los Chopos". Antón Capitel. "Arquitectura" Magazine Nº 241. pp. 18 -21. Madrid 1983.
José Camón Aznar
…the superb simplicity of those propylaea, with their high rectangular spans and whose dry grandiosity is accentuated by the rustic violence of their bond. Framed by the stone apparatus of that portico, we look towards the Casa Central del Consejo across a large pool with water leaping on top of the sea-horses and roman gods of the mosaic. This Casa Central del Consejo, by the architects Fernandez Vallespin and Fisac, we deem to be the most beautiful building erected in Madrid in recent times. Everything is all co-ordinated with a clear and solemn harmony in this architecture, whose limits become more impressive because of the superb concordance between the noble mouldings, and the precise cavities and the stones of alternating colours. Behind the resonant octastyle portico, with its paired columns with high capitals, the interior, despite the bitter industrial spans, is unified in a purified stylistic coherence, which dictates the pattern for all of the ornamental elements. The furniture is arranged and decorated with the same severe classicism. The large conference hall opens in a wide, open semi-circle, with an ample curve.
ABC Newspaper. 12th October, 1946.
There exists a concern on the part of the architect to find the ultimate meaning of the concept of ‘skin’, this led him to say that the Surface Treatment should depend on the genetic quality of the material, expressed from the point of constructive rationality which distances it from ornamentation and a predetermination of the form for form’s sake.
At that time, in the Fifties, Miguel Fisac noted his own vision; he considered concrete to be a doughy material which is put into moulds, therefore its form does not condition any particular shape, as happens with practically all other materials which had been used in building up to that time. In the words of Giedeon ‘the turn of the Fifties to the Sixties is a tentative transition of exploration of a richer formal vocabulary’.
It is obvious that Fisac identified material with form, structure, construction, decoration and space. In this way he ensured that the surface was not dependent on the architecture but was rather the main feature.
"FISAC, Ensamblaje con Vacíos 1959-1968". Carlos Asensio-Wandosell. Ministerio de Vivienda. Madrid 2004
Eduardo Delgado Orusco
The particular ability of Miguel Fisac to burn his boats despite the successes he achieved, generated a new turn in his work, in the long run the most definitive, the most radical. In effect, the concern of the architect for the expressive possibilities of the material was going to send him on a new adventure. We are talking about an exploration which would end up isolating him from the courses most common to the rest of the profession on his own very personal path, very often misunderstood by his peers, -the architects, and which, paradoxically would grant him the social status of the most modern architect of his generation: the expressiveness of concrete and the prefabricated pieces made in this material. Fisac returned to inventing. In the Fifties it was the patent for the brick for light enclosures, then the ‘bones’, the flexible formwork and everything else that contributed to displaying the process of production and placing the material in the formwork. Fisac opted decidedly for concrete in a choice that was almost ethical character. Concerned over the expression of materials, concrete was always, according to the architect, the material that presented most possibilities, and contradictorily, the one which had been least developed. From that moment onwards Fisac would commit his career to this battle, condemned to a solitary effort: his vehement manner and loyalty to his principles, an ethic of construction, appeared to announce this right from his first projects.
"Santa Ana de Moratalaz. 1965-1971. Miguel Fisac". Eduardo Delgado Orusco. Colegio de Arquitectos de Almería 2007
The mastery of Fisac, based on his talent, tenacity, and sensitivity, was reasserted in the context of the emerging ideas in modern architecture. Opposed to the virtual spectres: the miraculous reality. Opposed to the chimera of the liquid space: the rough consolation of the material. Opposed to the evanescent hypnotism of the skins: the truth of bones.
Miguel, poet malgre lui, poet of nakedness and efficiency, poet of investigation and of rationality, has been an advance of something which is beginning to gain strength: the reunification of art and science. I don’t know why, this attitude reminds me of another great poet of the naked and transcendent: the great Danish film-maker Carl Theodor Dreyer.
"Laudatio". Article by Fernando Espuelas in the Magazine "Formas de Arquitectura y Arte", Nº 13, pp 24-27. Colegio de Arquitectos de Ciudad Real 2006.
Fisac was one of the first to abandon all traces of the monumental academic straitjacket right from his first work that was built, turning his gaze towards the Italian architecture of the time: among the first to avoid historicist references and functionalist metaphors sticking to a modern language, following the Nordic example of Aalto and Asplund. He quickly acquired a certain critical awareness of the Modern Movement without forgetting the values of the ‘unfinished project’ which flourished, surprisingly, almost thirty years after the international debate began by the ideas of Jurgen Habermas. That is to say, Fisac was the first of the Madrid architects who worked beyond the boundaries of the lore, whether it be academic-critical or professional-speculator, uninterested in stylistic categorizations. This made him share some of the concerns which characterized the so-called third generation, within the limits of the cultural context in which he operated, and from his own personal position. "La materia y la forma de los huesos". Fernando Quesada.
Article in the book "FISAC, Ensamblaje con Vacíos 1959-1968". Carlos Asensio-Wandosell. Ministerio de Vivienda. Madrid 2004.
Francisco Arques Soler
Consciously concerned in the evolutionary and constructive process of the skin which every one of his buildings should have, Miguel Fisac shows through his architecture the ‘tactile’ aspect of the surface. An epidermis which confronts the problem and relationship between structure-enclosure-decoration from a totally new perspective. He rejected the ‘added complexity’ the result of formal problems or those of language and style, and adopted a ‘conflictive complexity’ the result of the concept of structure, construction, and material. The treatment of his façades therefore responds to a position that is clearly opposite to that with which he began his career, he would do a superimposed column in Corinthian style in the Main Building of the CSIC, a patently ornamental solution. This concept, which he had started with other materials such as brick in 1953, we find in concrete for the first time in 1961, with the ‘peak’ and ‘crease’ of the building for the Centro de Información y Documentación del Patronato Juan de la Cierva of the C.S.I.C., in Madrid, and where, having managed to give an artistic architectonic expressiveness to laminated steel, the echo of admiration for Mies is present.
"Miguel Fisac". Francisco Arques Soler. Ediciones Pronaos. Madrid 1996.
José Manuel López-Peláez
Panofsky, in his ‘Meaning and the Visual Arts’, defines humanism as the accentuation of human values: rationality and liberty and the acceptance of human limitations: fallibility and fragility: the human being is fragile and can make mistakes. This double assertion gives rise to two postulates: responsibility and tolerance. These human values can be found in the work of Fisac. On one hand we have the capacity for invention; the rationality, the technical mind; on the other we have liberty, the search for the authentic, with no ties, and that ‘I don’t know what’ animating the possibility of invention which attracted him so much. Miguel Fisac has accentuated his independence from times and fashions. Someone said that fashion is something which gets out of date. I believe that the architecture of Fisac does not get out of date. Fisac’s focussed his attention on his work, as happens with wise men. He looks at himself, converging towards its own interior space and this is his fundamental responsibility and the teaching that he transmits as his legacy; his own presence and works. "Miradas convergentes".
Article by José Manuel López-Peláez, in the Magazine "Formas de Arquitectura y Arte", Nº 13, pp. 58-63. Colegio de Arquitectos de Ciudad Real 2006.
Juan Daniel Fullaondo
That vision which is dense, overwhelming, decisive, the suggestion of his thick stroke, emphatic, which characterized all his work started to emerge in the young Fisac, although in monumental key… Fisac is not a subtle, or refined, architect, he is a violent designer, unilateral, sure of himself, with clear, precise ideas…the violence, the energy, the precision shown in the gigantic, overwhelming entrance to the work on Calle Serrano in Madrid.
At the end of the period of the previously mentioned Institute and, also perhaps, the more moderate intuition of the church of the Holy Spirit, a long intermediate period began in which Fisac would try a personal elucidation by way of complex experimentation around three or four compositional designs, experimentation which allows him to definitively transcend his hesitant previous rhetorical phase, where beside the mentioned successes, there are a long succession of errors (the Pililla residences, for example), testimony to the uncertainty of a monument without vitality or criteria… the ‘average’ Fisac, born amidst the shock waves of a spiritual torment, revolves around three essential alternatives:
a) the neo-empirical aspect of the Institute in Daimiel.
b) the very early organic or expressionist intuition of the building in the Ciudad Universitaria or the church in Vitoria.
c) the rationalist register of the Casa de Cultura in Cuenca…to cite three or four works that are sufficiently defined as far as their linguistic arrangement.
As is logical, the boundaries between one point or another are perhaps not so conclusive as to allow a definitive classification. The interconnections are constant and difficult to delimit. Anyway, I believe that it is around this three-pointed character of his supports that Fisac began his creative take-off.
“Miguel Fisac. Los años experimentales ” .J.D. Fullaondo. “Nueva Forma” Magazine. Nº 39. April 1969.
The installation of Fisac’s late period architecture, in accordance with the structuralist enunciation of Cappabianca, never ceases to present difficulties. The first step, the most obvious, lies in the direction of a predominant ‘architheme’: concrete. After a versatile investigation into texture, Fisac becomes an architect of just one trick to us, as diversified and multifaceted as anybody could want, but always within a deliberate self-limitation. The immediate external face of Fisac’s architecture adopts the first of the two poetic ploys, the exaltation of the material’s own potential. In the previous chapter we referred to the relative lack of abstract refinement in his overall architectonic approach. In this sense, his final work merely fits into this same reality. Part way between module-object and module-measurement, highlighted by Argan, Fisac concentrated his attention on the more objective, less abstract aspects. His organization, his way of arranging the violent presence of his archithemes, is always violent, elemental, and direct….The testimony of the material, the anguished, intricate, refined and subtle production disappears from his work, in the interests of achieving emphatic, immediate, and serialized definitions…The building blocks discompose in horizontal strips, units of bone, half way in between a beam and a tile.
“Miguel Fisac. los años de transición ” .J.D. Fullaondo. “Nueva Forma” Magazine. Nº 41. June 1969.
Luis Fernández Galiano
The intense cupiditas of the mature architect is crystallized in a wide range of innovative buildings, industrial warehouses as laboratories or factories or research centres, located preferably in the Spanish capital, which, on numerous occasions, utilized his most famous invention, -the hollow beams of prestressed concrete which he called ‘bones’, and the elegant technical and sculptural optimism which well represented the moment of economic take-off of a Spain which was opening its doors to products and ideas from abroad. These ‘bones’ for development would provide a structural framework for the material growth in that age of prosperity, and they would serve as an emblem of the success of a professional in tune with a country in a boom.
"Un triángulo circular". Article by Luis Fernández Galiano, in the Magazine "AV Monografías" Nº 101. p.2. Madrid 2003
Luis Moreno Mansilla y Emilio Tuñón Álvarez
To us, the architect Miguel Fisac is a curious nomad, who on his journeys has discovered those obsessions, those treasures with which he worked. The important thing for him, is not where he is heading, but what he discovers and collects on his way there. ‘Being an architect is a trade that each person has to discover for themselves’ said Fisac, and the way of learning is related to the path, to wandering around ideas, or inventions, or construction…. Like those youthful journeys on which he walked endlessly, up and down, observing silently, accompanied by his solitude, by the most important works of European architecture of the time.
A form of intellectual realism in which things only exist if they are touched or experienced. Photographs and theoretical books are not enough, not even texts or words, a type of solitary self-taught person who has to see, touch, and capture for himself.
A form of knowledge which is related to the five senses, ‘let’s think of the Alhambra’, says Miguel. A form of knowledge which it didn’t matter to him if he went back on, ‘let’s think of the Palace of Carlos V’, says Miguel. The ideas and experiences advance, and progress is what is important -novelty, improvement. A form of knowledge which is related to the capacity to create, the capacity to invent. And the fact is Fisac is an inventor, as Lopez Pelaez had hinted: ‘to Fisac, an architect is an inventor and in his continual progress the stages already passed, as far as they are known, hold no interest at all’
"Una habitación vacía". Article by Luis Moreno Mansilla & Emilio Tuñón Álvarez, p. 262 of the book "Fisac" by the Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos, Special Edition for the Colegio de Arquitectos de Castilla-La Mancha. Madrid 1997.
Maria Cruz Morales Saro
To achieve the design of his prestressed and later his post-stressed concrete pieces, which were part of his work from 1960 until 1975, he followed a hierarchical process with three phases;
- the most convenient form for the piece given the architectonic space he wished to create.
- the structural arrangement that could be achieved with the pieces resulting from the first phase
- the strict sections that were necessary.
The research by Miguel Fisac into reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete are interesting in a way that went beyond the specific case of a technique and a country, to become a response to the general problems faced by contemporary architecture. It is a double response, relating to the functional capacity and especially the attainment of the ‘architectonic form’ of a material. This second part represents a pragmatic aspect which is totally opposite to formalisms.
“la arquitectura de Miguel Fisac”. Mª Cruz Morales Saro. Colegio de Arquitectos de Ciudad Real 1979.
Maria Isabel Navarro Segura
Miguel Fisac has developed his brilliant, passionate architectonic production continually using the relationship that is applied to certain structures in the durable-tractionable expression. A set of scales which combines the composition of large masses and volume in his works, and an intense and patient attention to the minimum constructive unit, and also to the minimum unit of architectonic meaning. All of this subjected to a syntax dominated by tension, a dramatic tension which can always be found in one of the results of each work. One by one, each work of architecture projected and carried out throughout decades contains various reflections of constructive order, at times about the relationship with the site, or possibly as a critical response to the work of the moment. He follows the itinerary learnt from his life experiences submerged in the infinite countryside of La Mancha, full of reminders of its horizons and silence, covered by a luminous rainbow in three ranges; blues, reds and golds, which the white light of mid-day shines through. There are no shadows in the works of Fisac. The metaphysical condition of the works of his early stage is a constant which animates his architecture in all of the great moments when he made an unexpected inflection, that is to say, in the most creative episodes of his production.
"Miguel Fisac, 2003". Maria Isabel Navarro Segura. BASA Magazine (Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Canarias), Nº 27. 2003. pp. 5-39.
I remember when my brother, who is five years older than me, started at the Instituto in Daimiel. I never studied there. I remember how its whites, much brighter than they are now, rose up distinguishing themselves from the dust of the tracks, from the scarce greenery of the park, and from the disrespectful ignorance, which I have since discovered, in certain types of baleful looks and self-satisfied gaits… those whites shining out from the chimneys –which today are in ruins, the whites against the transparency of the large windows, the whites called to order by the blue. Those whites have been in me since then, pure, crazy, clean whites, conscious because of the indigo. I can not start to talk about the agreement between him and me in any other way. All that whiteness, crazy coherence, is in my book La Demencia consciente, in the same way, in the world of paper, that its whites and lights were cast over the sand of the park, over the white dust of the tracks and the boring textbooks and the ink of the inkwell, so blue. I remember and it is in my poems to raise this coherence from the railed off ruins, beside which, and this is true, I live these days. And rather than remember now I would like to experience it.
"Miguel Fisac: La coherencia de espíritu". Article by Miguel Galanes in the Magazine "Formas de Arquitectura y Arte", Nº 13, pp 10-12. Colegio de Arquitectos de Ciudad Real 2006.
Fisac places his work in the tradition of the utopian projects with concepts that can both be experienced and realized. From the 1970s the surface of the building occupied his creative energy, displaying in the MUPAG building (1969-1973) or his own studio (1971) a fascination for the treatment of the container reminiscent of Giulio Romano or the Palazzo Medici-Ricardi in Florence.
His attempts with surfaces, with lines and curves give his works a feeling in between the formless and the imperfect which is a necessary part of his architectonic utopia. Like Ernst Bloch, Fisac rejects the ideal of a pure rational order. Instead of this the rational and the irrational combine to form a vision of a specific utopia, and make ‘what does not yet exist in the world’ into a reality.
"Caligrafía curva". Artíicle by Mohsen Mostafavi in the Magazine "AV Monografías" Nº 101. pp. 12-14. Madrid 2003.