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Global Architecture Platform

Alejandro de la Sota
Courthouse building
Zaragoza, 1986

Alejandro de la Sota did not openly exhibit his architecture, choosing to show atmospheric suggestions rather than a built reality.

In the Courthouse in Zaragoza, Alejandro de la Sota found the opportunity to fit a solution characteristic of industrial architecture into the historic fabric of the city. Previous essays on the Postal Service Building in León had led him towards a contemporary approach to the thickness of traditional stone walls. In this case, he had done so with a simple sandwich panel, both by the choice of its colour and the placement thereof simulating large ashlar masonry, as well as by the position of the windows, set so far back that the panel had to be bent, forming an unreal thickness which was occupied by furniture or left to show its true nature. In the Courthouse in Zaragoza the handing of the panel is improved by transforming the metallic frame needed to support it into the structure required for bearing the aluminium metalwork. The sandwich panel enclosure is clearly shown from both outside and inside, being accompanied by a minimal structure. The technology available to the architect was clearly shown, free of tricks, and in an expressive way not permitted by its habitual use in industrial facilities.

The sandwich panel could not be run down to the pavement level as it was susceptible to damage, so Sota resorted to bending a precast concrete tile (characteristic of industrial facilities), which curiously was found in the same street, and transformed it into a footing, just as he had done on the rear façade of the Postal Service Building in León. An easily damaged sandwich panel could not bear any weight, not even a downpipe, which explains why he resorted to large poles from motorway lampposts as drainpipes, transforming the descent of the water into an event with a conduit needing no support on the façade.

Alejandro de la Sota did not openly exhibit his architecture; he hid it, choosing to show atmospheric suggestions rather than a built reality. He eschewed the detailed exhibition of his achievements. This axonometric view was one of the first used to describe the way in which Tectonica magazine would be drawn, and it was a great relief to be able to show it to Sota, and to receive his approval to display such an intense constructed reality.

Posted
24.Feb.2016 799 views 49 shares
Author
Carlos Quintáns

Carlos Quintáns (Muxía, 1962) received his diploma in architecture in 1987, followed by a master’s degree in 1994. He completed his PhD in 2015. He is Professor in the Department of Construction and Architecture, University of A Coruña, since 1990. Moreover, he was appointed professor at the International University of Catalonia from 2002 to 2005. He is the publishing director of Tectónica, and of its online version Tectonicablog.com, and of the architecture magazine Obradoiro. His practice has won several international prizes, among them: Selected Mies Van der Rohe Prize 2011 and Shortlisted X Spanish Architecture Biennal in 2011. Among his most recognized projects can be highlighted: House in Paderne del Caurel, House in Gandarío and Indoors and Outdors swimming-pools in A Coruña.

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