“Sultry!”. This is how the architect who will decide which buildings in Madrid to preserve is dismissed from this interview. We have just asked him to close an hour of conversation what his opinion deserves the painting of the Boa Mistura collective on the façade of the Getafe sports hall, which was built in 2001 by Miguel Fisac (1913-2006). And the Canalejas intervention? “Model”. Enrique Bardají does not avoid controversy, although he does not provoke it either. He is frank and direct, with the solvency of those who have not lacked their craft in more than four decades. He started with Enrique Tierno Galván in the City Council, in 1976, as a municipal architect and soon became the manager of Urbanism of the Consistory, where he spent five years. Since 1987 he combines architecture and urbanism in his studio of about twenty people, located in the Salamanca district.
A Goya for Canalejas, the crossed interests of Esperanza Aguirre and Villar Mir
He says that what Carlos Lamela did in the set of seven buildings in Canalejas was “exemplary”, because the view from Calle Alcalá towards Seville “is very well resolved.” “Someone had to say it,” he says. But – there is always a but – the view from the opposite side of the complex, from Puerta del Sol, no longer excites him so much: “It is doubtful due to the excess of buildability.” Associations such as Madrid Citizenship and Heritage have accused Lamela of having exceeded the demolition of the seven historic buildings for OHL, but also of having made the complex (the buildability) grow beyond the height that good taste marks.
In fact, the person in charge of the transformation of the bank properties into a luxury hotel had to defend his intervention before the Criminal Court No. 16 of Madrid, because the Environmental Delegate Prosecutor accused him of an alleged crime against the Historical Heritage. The judge acquitted Lamela. “This is one of the great evils that plague Spanish urban planning: the judicialization of our interventions. There has been a legislative effort to complicate the application of something as abstract as beauty, the comfort of citizens, the improvement of the civic landscape, etc. . A point has come where we cannot work, “laments Enrique Bardají, sitting at the meeting table in his office. According to the website of his study, he has designed more than 18,000 homes, most of them in the capital and in the Community of Madrid, and has rehabilitated many others.
Conserve or destroy, that’s the question
Juan Miguel Villar Mir, president of OHL, bought Esperanza Aguirre a portrait of Goya for more than five million euros and the then president of the Community of Madrid withdrew the comprehensive protection of several buildings of the Canalejas historical architecture complex, in the that the builder set up the luxury complex, with a superhotel, super expensive. Bardají does not like the “superficiality” of these matters because he assures that they are much more complex than we think. “It is superficial to think like this: integral is good and is politically correct, and structural is bad and politically incorrect,” explains the architect who is in charge of cataloging the real estate to be preserved.
Since the Canalejas scandal, the historical vestiges of Madrid have uncovered the greatest threat to its survival in the alliance between politics and private interests. The Cuatro Caminos garages or the Artillery Barracks have been two other fatalities of this union of forces. That is why the catalog that classifies and indicates which buildings in the city cannot afford to miss Madrid is so important. With the creation of the new catalog of goods to conserve, what is untouchable is pointed out. And, despite the cultural significance of this document, it has not been revised since 1997. In 2014 there was an update, but insufficient to save, for example, the convent of the Apostolic Ladies from death wounds.
A catalog of 4,000 buildings
Now Bardají’s team will have to analyze about 2,000 complete buildings and about 800 partially. In each file that is prepared, the interior and exterior architectural data, the state of conservation and current use will appear, with graphic and photographic data. It will also review those not included almost 25 years ago and expand the proposed selection whose limit was then the date of 1980. It is estimated that about 400 buildings not included then will be analyzed because it will expand the historical framework and add examples from the 21st century, although it prefers not reveal which ones due to the “confidentiality clause”.
Although it does not advance which buildings are the ones that it wants to be protected, it does anticipate that it will propose contemporary landmarks that are not very popular, but that have “some components of spatiality, of affection in the treatment of detail, of integral vocation, that deserve to be in a catalog “. Will your own projects, like the Makro building, be among them? “I am not going to include them although we will propose them to the City Council technicians,” he indicates as a measure to save the conflict of interest.
To describe, contribute, update and value the buildings in the revision of the Catalog of Protected Goods and Spaces, the Madrid City Council will invest one million euros. The new, desired and expected cataloging of Madrid architecture in the 21st century will conclude in two years, coinciding with the decline of the legislature. During this time, a team made up of seven architects and two historians will be in charge of drawing up the new files on the old buildings. They will go to the places outlined by the old catalog to do the work from scratch, with new photographs, new plans and new descriptions. For each file produced, the City Council pays 173 euros to the study. “It is very little budget to review about 4,000 buildings. That is why we have to do it very quickly,” adds the chief architect.
A conflicting document
In the preparation of the Catalog there are three steps: the first is data collection; two, deduct the category of the building and third, the works that are allowed in that building. The classification of the value given to the building to be protected indicated by those of Bardají is given by the City Council technicians. A special commission should conclude whether the protection of each of those thousands of buildings is comprehensive, unique, structural, partial, environmental, or none at all. If it is integral, hardly any works can be done and if it is environmental it can even be demolished. The last time anything like a commission was formed was in 1997.
“Why is it important to have this catalog? First, because recognizing what has been our history is recognizing Madrid’s identity. But also because this cataloging will control the works. That is the essential element. We do not work with BICs (Goods of Cultural Interest), we work with the architecture of the city. The architectures that concern me the most are what I call ‘comparsa architectures’. Those that have no focus, “explains Bardají. For example, from the beginning of Bravo Murillo street, where you do not see extraordinary buildings but an unusual harmony. This “comparsa” construction allows larger and more aggressive works than buildings protected in an integral way. In which street in Madrid do you feel comfortable as an architect? “Those streets with double trees, those have a dignity and a solvency. Vallecas Boulevard is beautiful,” he says.
Bardají was part, just out of college, of the first expedition of architects who reviewed and noted the historic buildings in the Madrid town hall. He says that they were on a two-horse convertible pointing at the portals where the milestones to be protected were located, and with a sign on the car that apologized to the rest of the drivers for the slowness in their passage through the road. A Google Street View post-Franco. He also likes us to remember the relocation of 50,000 shacks thanks to “the communicated order” executed between 1982 and 1989. “When has Barcelona relocated 50,000 families? Never,” he says. “Now I am building in Villaverde and it is very good, if I had to live somewhere I would live there divinely,” he assures. Bardají lives on the upper floor of his studio.
“It is not freezing the past”
Throughout his more than four decades in office, two irreconcilable forces of urban planning coincide in this architect: protection and construction. Perhaps that is why he does not declare himself a protectionist architect. “How the architects that we want to build can be in the line of protecting the heritage? Well, I am not in the line of protecting the heritage, but of protecting the city. All architecture that is integrated into the city and is good for the The city is good architecture. Any modification of the heritage that is made from the perspective of the city is an intervention that can be valued “, he clarifies and clarifies that, from his point of view, protecting the heritage” is not freezing the past. ” This also will not please the citizen associations that are dedicated to protection.
He is responsible for the urban planning plan for the Mahou-Calderón axis, where 1,400 new homes will be built, on the banks of the river in a city that is struggling to take care of its real estate assets. “What was going to be raised there, which was architecturally positive, and I like Carlos Rubio Carvajal, it was decontextualized, and that was seen by the neighborhood associations,” he says about the two skyscrapers that have not prospered. “Our plan has contextualized it with less media brilliance, but with much more cultural solvency,” adds Bardají.
The two main difficulties when creating a Property Catalog are: “Deciding what is worth and what is not worth in the artistic world and, furthermore, the tension between building owners and the collective vocation of maintaining them. There are those who want to intervene a lot and the cataloging bothers them “, admits Bardají. In this sense, will the homes of the working classes of Alto de Extremadura or Tetuán be protected? “Those self-construction buildings generated by neighbors in the original nuclei of some districts must have an important documentary content, but I have my doubts about whether they are necessarily protectable,” he says. In fact, it raises the question even with the Peironcely house where photographer Robert Capa took the historic image showing the emphaticness of the Civil War disaster. “Is it interesting to keep the history of the disaster or the building? Well, the City Council has made its decision,” he says.
The label of “architect linked to the PSOE” has persecuted Enrique Bardají since he worked in the council together with Tierno Galván and Juan Barranco. “I have never been interested in politics and I became a manager of rebound urban planning,” he declares. He defines those years as a “hopeful vocation”. Of all the buildings that they marked to protect, remember one in particular: the headquarters of the PSOE, in Ferraz, 70. They were presented with the total demolition of the building when the mayor was José Luis Álvarez y Álvarez (UCD), in 1978. “We left Ferraz and we got them to change their minds and at least the facade was preserved. They could demolish because there was no protection then, but we convinced whoever listened to us after throwing a fight to tell us who we were to talk about politics if we were architects What he knew about politics, “says Bardají. Who was? “A certain Felipe.”