It would be absurd to try to summarize in a short article a life as long and lavish as that of Oriol Bohigas, and since I met him very closely, only since the year 70, I prefer to speak not from our professional proximity, but especially through the very long meals-gatherings (from noon to dawn) that for many years we did with Oriol and a group of friends.

Affectionate, friendly and approachable person, capricious, with his bright socks and his yellow ties, in those meetings, long and chaotic but fruitful, that we do for years, he transmitted to us his transparent intellectual complexity and frankness and spontaneity of his personality, and although his reactions were never predictable or his conventional theses, they were very intelligible, because of their understandable structural logic and their acceptable and direct language.

Oriol was ideologically progressive, republican and of an open Catalanism not at all exclusive, which repudiated demagogic populism. Understood as an “enlightened socialist”, he had a great sense and concern for what is public. As an example, his contribution to school architecture and the design of urban space, his leadership of the so-called Barcelona School during the Franco regime, as a preeminent figure in the publishing world, as director of the ETSAB , as Delegate of Urbanism and Councilor for Culture of Barcelona City Council, as President of the Ateneu…

In Oriol it was easy to appreciate his status as a leader by nature, but never a messianic or dogmatic leader; on the contrary, it can be said that, along with his leadership ability, his most visible virtue was generosity. I don’t think he had many enemies – I’ve never seen a person with more friends, of all possible ages and conditions.

Great disseminator and polemicist, he was a pure dialectic, practicing a critical pragmatism, with great analytical and also propositive capacity.

did not abuse jokes, as some hinted, but he did like to stimulate controversial discussion at any cost, with no more prejudices or limits than the truth.

His enormous curiosity pushed him to discover and analyze as many contradictory views as possible during the discussions. They were waters where he knew how to swim perfectly, and he was able, like a sponge, to absorb all the positions, even the most contradictory ones, after facing them and positioning himself vehemently, and drawing conclusions from them.

Let’s not forget that the fusion of concepts complexity i contradiction, by the hand of Robert Venturi, gave rise to the West in the most interesting thesis of architecture of the end of the century, and that in the book Against an adjective architecture Oriol was already anticipating the urban aporia that was the excess of adjectivalism promoted since globalization.

Oriol was never content to lead the discussion towards a disjunctive alternative, and what interested him most was to focus on the range of grays that coexisted between black and white, detail and domestic scale. , because from the analysis of this extensive range of grays and from the smaller scales the answers would be born. Between black and white, Oriol always opted for white and black at the same time.

Oriol’s ability to work was immense. As a writer and critic, as an entrepreneur (he created a prefabricated housing company that failed due to the context of the time, at a huge economic cost), as an editor, and as a design professional, architecture and town planning.

Oriol was the prototype of architectural and urban modernity, and perhaps supported by his strong personality, he understood the design process as an interdisciplinary collaboration. In fact, Oriol spent more time writing than designing.

Modern and visionary, he was passionate about tradition without nostalgia, that is, he acted modernly and could reason renaissance. Another contradiction, only apparent.

Oriol Bohigas, in addition to being a brilliant theorist and architect, had a great capacity and disposition for management, and yet, and in spite of his indisputable leadership, I think he has been wasted by our institutions, and never goes to assume a national leadership as their predecessors Puig i Cadafalch and Domènech i Montaner did.

In any case, without the projection of Oriol Bohigas, Catalonia and its capital, Barcelona, ​​would be different.

Josep Acebillo is an architect

Source: Ara.cat – Portada by www.ara.cat.

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