Centenario Fisac

Fisac on his own work

“The aesthetic learning of artistic awareness which came from learning in great detail about the Italian quatrocento and cinquecento has been fundamental to my architectural training. Later, when with great respect, I relegated all the classical formalism to the store room, like some no longer used piece of furniture, and I kept forever the unforgettable, wise display of linear, spatial and volumetric interplay that this formalism had acquired through centuries of refinement and study by many creative geniuses, and which means that any architect who sails these waters will be dazzled by such beauty and so much knowledge that it will be difficult for them to free themselves from its siren songs. Siren songs which attracted good architects from the time of Mussolini in the so-called Italian novecento, with classical stylization as the dominant theme, as happened later with literary education of a far lesser degree of expressiveness, in that other Post modern movement”.
"Carta a mis sobrinos" (Letter to my nephews) by Miguel Fisac. Published by Fundacion Miguel Fisac. Ciudad Real 2007.

“I came to the conclusion that the classical forms were really eternal: what we needed to do then was to do things in a more schematic way, in a simpler way… So I started to study the Italian cinquecento, which was the great renaissance of the Roman era, and looked at the works in various stages of development which were being done in Italy at the time, I did not know them at first hand, and not much had been published about them, but I had some idea about those I had heard about.”
“When I finished the CSIC, it was well-received, Lafuente Ferrari and Camon Aznar gave it very good reviews; saying that the architecture that I was doing at the Altos de Hipodromo was very important… It was inaugurated with great ceremony, Franco was there… I remember three or four days later I went there on my own, I was going over everything in my head, and I thought: ‘Miguel, this path will take you nowhere. There’s no place for me here! I need to look for something different’ “.
"Miguel Fisac, apuntes y viajes". Paloma de Roda Lamsfus. Editorial Scriptum. Madrid, April 2007.
             A mental itinerary
“The Instituto Laboral de Daimiel was the first project in which I employed a very useful theory of my own, which is using common sense. I began by asking myself ‘where does this go?’, that is something which the architects of the modern movement, who were primarily concerned with the façade, never asked themselves. I continued with ‘what for?’, in other words analysing the program to work out what spaces and connections between them were necessary. After that I had to establish ‘how?’, to solve everything materially, and then –only at the end, came a series of exclusively aesthetic decisions, the ‘I don’t know what’ which is added when the rest has been decided. I drew some little boxes on a 1:50 or 1:100 scale and looked at where to place different parts, what connections each had with the others, etc, and that’s how the building developed.
AV Monografías Magazine. Issue nº 101. Madrid 2003. 
“In architecture, and in the other fine arts, there exists a unitary final result, but it is formed from three factors. A motive, a reasoning, and a ‘what for?’, the origin of the work, what we call in architecture the program… … The ‘how?’ is always a technique which makes possible its execution, whether this is architectonic, pictorial, sculptural, or acoustic. The ‘I don’t know what’, as studied by Feijoo, and as San Juan de la Cruz would have described it, is that extra thing which, with a great unconscious contribution from the real artist, and no clear rational explanation why, is capable of transforming a feature which is there for a purpose into something that transcends, something capable of emotional communication”
"Carta a mis sobrinos" (Letter to my nephews) by Miguel Fisac. Published by Fundacion Miguel Fisac. Ciudad Real 2007.
“A quote attributed to Lao-Tse: ‘Four walls and a roof are not architecture, it is the space that remains inside’, which I read possibly in an article referring to Wright, this put me on the path to a spatial and essential concept of architecture. The thought of Lao-Tse in the Tao Te Ching was not exactly that, but the practical result of his paradoxical philosophical language can be considered to be very similar.
The fact is I spent a long time reflecting on this idea, and, eventually,managed to crystallize it into an emphatic definition of what to me is architecture: a piece of humanized air.”
“I define architecture as a piece of humanized air, and a church would be something more; a piece of sacred air, one where man is inclined, because of the material and sensory atmosphere surrounding him, to place himself in contact with the supernatural, with that desire to move close to God”. 
"Carta a mis sobrinos" (Letter to my nephews) by Miguel Fisac. Published by Fundacion Miguel Fisac. Ciudad Real 2007.
Living immersed in the Cosmos means being able to appreciate it in the exterior, not just visually, but also through hearing and smells, rather than through taste and touch, which are internal senses inside our bodies. While the expressive beauty of the textures of the surfaces that are the limits of spaces can be experienced by sight, its intellectual message, poetical or mystical in its geometric solutions, and in its inscriptions, in its chromaticism,… the water in its three situations that are so abundant in the Alhambra, water that springs forth (fountains), water that flows (channels), and still water (storage tanks and ponds) all harmoniously arranged, is an unrivalled acoustic delight. The plants and flowers in the both the interior and exterior gardens provide us with an olfactory delight beyond comparison with any that we can previously remember. The thing I remember most clearly about that stay in the Alhambra during a reunion of friends, because at no time in my life have I seen such a beautiful and complete spectacle, was a night of moonlight (with no artificial light) that we spent sat on the ground, or walking around on our own, listening, smelling, and contemplating the Alhambra.” 
Lecture given to the Colegio de Arquitectos de Granada on 21/4/94. Published in the book 'Fisac' by  Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos, a special edition for the Colegio de Arquitectos de Castilla-La Mancha. Madrid 1997. 
            The limitations of modern experience
“When I read now, in the magazine ‘The Architectural Review’ (May 1988) a study by Juhani Pallasmaa, which comes to the conclusion that postmodern society tries to humanize the abstract rigidity of the Modern Movement with ‘regional flexibilities’, and the monographic issue on detached houses in the ‘Architectural Record’ (April 1988) with its appreciation for their ‘local colour’, I smile remembering that it was precisely that abstract plasticity, without any reference to the physical, cultural, and social setting, which in 1948, was the main reason why I gave up on the Modern Movement. In contrast, I had felt the need to incorporate the first factor that should be taken into account in architecture, which I did in 1950 in the project for the Instituto Laboral de Daimiel, that is the ground on which the building is to be sited, and its surroundings”.  "La Obra de Miguel Fisac". Documentos de Arquitectura nº 10. Colegio de Arquitectos de Almería 1989.
“One thing I learnt about the Modern Movement was that, as in all classical movements, they had decided to pay no attention at all to the setting in which their. buildings would be constructed. One of the most surprising things that I noticed was that they just went along with their building organized in their heads and just put it down no matter what the setting. … I mean, one of the things I saw straight away as the main aspect of the Modern Movement was their disdain for what surrounded their project. …And the architecture! It’s like a tree nailed into a landscape, but you can’t escape what surrounds you”  
"Miguel Fisac, apuntes y viajes". Paloma de Roda Lamsfus. Editorial Scriptum. Madrid, April 2007.
            Architectonic fashions

I understand that there could be two ways of learning to be an architect. One of these, the most normal way, is to accumulate information, from books and magazines, to find out what is going on and what the critics value as good architecture. Trying to adapt the projects we do to these types and even their models (according to the terminology of Quatremere de Quincy) corresponds to an attitude of mimicry which produces very dubious creative results. But there is also another way of learning, which I think is more efficient. It consists of analysing architecture of a certain level from reality, rather than through manipulated photographic angles. From this direct analysis, one obtains personal conclusions which enrich one’s knowledge, and as a result , obtain better conditions for carrying out our daily work”.  
"La Obra de Miguel Fisac". Documentos de Arquitectura nº 10. Colegio de Arquitectos de Almería 1989.

“I would dare to say without presumption, that being in the wavelength is not a very creative attitude, because it is the consequence of the stone that has been thrown into the calm waters of a pond, and the unexpected results are always received with suspicion and contempt. And if you think otherwise, go and ask Mozart’s bones, they’re lying in the common grave in the Vienna cemetery.”  
"La Obra de Miguel Fisac". Documentos de Arquitectura nº 10. Colegio de Arquitectos de Almería 1989.
            The architectural dynamic
“It is known that the subjective sensation of speed that we feel depends on the relationship between an object in movement and another that is stationary […]. This subjective impression is achieved with the relationship between two converging walls: one dynamic curved, enveloping, smooth, white, with no particular place that attracts one’s focus, forcing one’s view tangentially towards the back of the apse where the altar is situated, and the other static: of different material and marked quality of visible brick, stone, etc”.  
"Arquitectura religiosa de Miguel Fisac". Felipe Morales. Distrib. Librería Europa. Madrid 1960.

“I came upon this building, which was right on the bisection of the corners of Velazquez and Joaquin Costa streets…, and it had windows like that and I said no… and I looked for some clever way to put other things…, to break it up a bit, and in this way create a tension in the building!   What I did was to create a crooked axis to obtain this balance… I wanted to get away from symmetry, I viewed it as an enemy and said: ‘I have to break the symmetry’. As we’ve got the stairs there, I could put some windows… but at different heights! And I managed to break the axis!   So this corner is now quite attractive in that sense… We have a body that is apparently symmetrical, but there is an interior tension between the heart and the liver and we balance that tension. The Palace of Versailles is symmetrical, without tension!  
"Miguel Fisac, apuntes y viajes". Paloma de Roda Lamsfus. Editorial Scriptum. Madrid, abril de 2007.
             Contructive sincerity: the bones

“At a certain moment someone becomes aware that a hollow piece of prestressed concrete is an independent architectonic structural form, with its own characteristics, which neither have anything to do with the structural form in double T, nor with the consequent box beam, which can have whatever form is convenient, and this morphological freedom is precisely what gives it its personality”.  
Miguel Fisac. Vigas Huecas Pretensadas. "H.A." nº 94-95. 1970.
 “The pieces that I have obtained using this architectonic-static means have resulted in sections with forms very like the bones of vertebrates. It’s not that I wanted to make them like bones, it’s just that they turned out that way. That makes you think that, naturally, some parallel exists. You could interpret it as proof that this is the right path, it corresponds to concepts which we see in Nature. My collaborators, in many cases, have called these pieces bones, in a pejorative sense, because setting up their production entails numerous difficulties. But without doubt, it could be a way”.   "Hormigón y Acero" Magazine nº 79, pág. 36 a 39. 1966.

“Certain structural forms, mainly engineering, but also laminars, unknown and unrealizable with other materials, have been unable to hide their expressiveness, but the trabeated structures, which are those that respond to the anthropomorphic spatial arrangements, both in the generation of pure space to contain the physical form of man in his different programmed dynamisms, and in the spatial generation of his psychological environment, what Hall refers to as the ‘human bubble’, in two parallel planes, whether horizontal or not, until now have not had their own expressiveness. A new expressiveness of the durable-tractionable binomial, which until the appearance of pre-compressed concrete had been unachievable with any other material. The great progressive architects of the recent past have either worked and achieved a genial expressiveness in trabeated structures in laminated structures of steel, the case of Mies, or they have fallen into a sculptural expressiveness, as did Le Corbusier.
"El hormigón pretensado". article by de Miguel Fisac in the Magazine "Arquitectura", nº 127, p. 2. Madrid, July 1969. 
             The expression of matterial: skins
“In Daimiel I fitted the program into a traditional structure of rammed earth and sloped tiled roofs. I had to deceive the labourer, saying that I was going to treat these walls in a special way, so they had to be very well whitewashed. So I told him to throw the whitewash with a small pitcher to saturate all the pores as was the custom there, and when I went back to the works I told him, Great! Beautiful! It’s so good we’re going to leave it like that. And that man thought, like any from the village, that we were going to pace some columns and a fronton on that smooth, white surface. When they inaugurated the building, someone there commented to me in a disparaging way “that looks like a rural shack”, and I replied “Thank you very much”, because that had been precisely my intention, to make a work of modern architecture using constructive methods from popular La Mancha tradition”.  
"AV Monografías" Magazine nº 101. p. 30. Madrid 2003.
“…the bonds of brick, I think, are the result of placing one on top of another, prefabricated prismatic pieces, while concrete is a doughy material which is done in moulds. The most distinctive thing about the two different constructive means is that brick preordains the wall that will be built, because of its own rigid structure, while concrete accepts whatever form it is moulded into”.
Complex of Buildings for Work Formation Teacher Training R.N.A. nº 203. Madrid 1958.
“Firstly by intuition and more consciously in the later stages, I have always given great importance to the textures of the enclosures, -transparent and opaque, in the buildings I have projected. I have also taken much care to ensure that these textures, whether consequence of a structural reality or not, had an effective rationality. So that’s why I invented the brick, my concern was to demonstrate the structure of a concrete lintel in a wall of brick which, because of its large span, can not be done with simple rowlocks. And on studying and researching the forms of concrete and realising that these pieces which I was proposing occurred most commonly in the bones of vertebrate animals, I rebelled against the farce that was going on, and in which I had participated, of shuttering with boards and borrowing the wood grained quality of the surface to imprint it, inappropriately, onto the concrete. So I decided to get rid of this incorrect texture.  "Carta a mis sobrinos" (Letter to my nephews) by Miguel Fisac. Published by Fundacion Miguel Fisac. Ciudad Real 2007. 
“If on a rigid structure, as open as possible, and one which maintains the calculated dimensions of the reinforced concrete structure, we hang a material that is flexible and without any texture, like a smooth lamina of plastic (polythene for example), the result that the weight of this soft material gives to the concrete when poured is real and effective, the concrete takes on the texture of the material, in a tactile way.
"Carta a mis sobrinos" (Letter to my nephews) by Miguel Fisac. Published by Fundacion Miguel Fisac. Ciudad Real 2007. 
            The value of the rural medium
“They left a piece of the Instituto Laboral de Daimiel, they’d have been better off knocking it down. I was wrong there, well, I got it wrong because nobody liked it. I was lucky in that for ten or twelve years there was director who was an Art graduate, then the uncle of Antonio Lopez came as a drawing teacher, during that time the Instituto was fine. But just as soon as they retired, a whole new group of people started there, and the first thing they did was to knock things down; it appeared too much like a rural shack, but in reality the building was in La Mancha and we had a local architecture that I valued highly, although nobody else may have thought that it had any value, and I believed that it could be refined to create something that responded to a desire; that the farmers should be something more… not just the last in the line, and without any culture. We didn’t manage it.
"FISAC, Ensamblaje con Vacíos 1959-1968". Carlos Asensio-Wandosell. Ministerio de Vivienda. Madrid 2004
“The definition of a model as ‘an object which is repeated in exactly the same state’, given to us by Quatremere de Quincy, a treatise writer who was considered an expert on the theory of architecture, fits perfectly with the rural building. The type, according to the same author, ‘is the image of a thing to be copied or imitated’ or even more so ‘the idea of an element which should serve as a rule for the model’ would include what we call popular architecture from La Mancha.
In a normal evolution of architecture the type precedes the model, in reality the model is the crystallization of the best solution to the type. However, in our case of the Manchego popular architecture, I would dare to suspect that this phenomenon has been reversed.
For the reasons we have seen, a construction has emerged that has been perfected to the point that it has directly become the model, having such constructive and artistic force that it has created a type from which a series of buildings have been derived, taken as a whole these constitute what we call the popular architecture of La Mancha.   "Arquitectura popular manchega". Miguel Fisac. Edited by Colegio de Arquitectos de Ciudad Real. Ciudad Real 2005. 
            Urban planning, the city
“We are suffering the comsequences of rational approaches which were emitted and codified at the beginning of the century and were based on the radical mistake that rational development implied development and adaptation to the physiological and psychological needs of man. […] This apparent concern for human needs in rationalist urban planning is what has been followed in urban plans of all nations after the Second World War and,as its bitter fruit, has produced the most inhuman cities known in the history of urban development”   "Mi ética es mi estética".
"Mi ética es mi estética". Miguel Fisac, Museo de Ciudad Real 1982.

“One of the most typical reactions of modern-day civilization, perhaps the most characteristic, is that direct form of reacting when faced by the phenomenology that we come up against without even considering an alternative way to avoid it,  as if it was a totally inevitable situation and man had no power to set out the path he wished to follow. This appears to me to be a curious form of arrogance, which covers up a superficial comfort and a profound cowardice”
"La Molécula Urbana", Miguel Fisac, Ediciones y Publicaciones Españolas. Madrid,1969.
“I proposed a kind of grouping of cities. My starting point was the question of whether cities like Manzanares, Valdepeñas and Daimiel could get anywhere on their own. I didn’t think they could. They will be absorbed by Madrid. The proof is that people go from there to work everyday in Madrid. When the problem in Madrid is overcrowding. What I propose is that these intermediate towns and cities should group themselves together. That’s where my proposal of the urban molecule fits in; I organised some theoretical squares measuring 62 km x 62 km, because this is the approximate distance that can be covered in one day on horseback
The theory of the urban molecule is a bit of an obsession of mine. I start from the assumption that there are a series of services which can not be provided in small settlements; educational, public health, cultural, etc. a town of 25-50,000 can not offer them all, so you get something like an oily stain, something which shouldn’t be done but it is, and it creates a monstrosity. Mexico City already has 23 million inhabitants, they’ve probably got problems breathing the air, environmental problems, a shortage of water, and a lack of minimum living conditions in the housing. All this has to be avoided if possible”.
Interview by Alfonso G. Calero en Añil, nº 14. pág. 42 a 46. Centro de Estudios de Castilla-La Mancha.

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