Paraguay: Abu & Font House 2005–2006 by Solano Benítez – Surubí House 2003–2004 by Javier Corvalán
With this fifth O´Neil Ford Duograph, The Center for American Architecture and Design together with the O´Neil Ford Chair in Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin are publishing another set of buildings by two architects from one country in South America. Without doubt Solano Benitez and Javier Corvalan are two outstanding figures of contemporary Paraguayan architecture, both as architects and teachers. But more than that, their work shows a research approach that is quite unlike that of any of their international colleagues.
- ISBN: 978 3 8030 0759 9
- Size: 29,5 x 21,5 cm. Paperback
- Edition: 1st edition, original edition
Given its natural resources, a strong emphasis on self sustained local economy and the prospect of an open and more vibrant future, Paraguay is ready to project its next phase of development without repeating or importing the failures of modern progress: a radical plea for a low-tech rather than a high-tech approach. Energy generation and consumption, emission standards, appropriate construction methods and defensible agricultural processing methods are key decisions towards a sustainable future of humanity worldwide. Benítez and Corvalán contribute clear and profound statements how to build towards this future thus shifting consuetudinary definitions of relevance in modern architecture.
Water and land are the exuberant and predominant resources of Paraguay both for local economy as well as for industry. Water and land are the foundations for the rural agriculture economy- still the primary source of Paraguay’s national income. Electricity generated from waterpower allows the population of about 6 million people to be basically autonomous from other energy sources. A large surplus of energy is exported. Yet, the majority of jobs are related to a rural economy rather than to an urban labor market of business services. The unemployment rate is high, the number of long-term jobs is low, individual annual income steadily ranks on the lowest levels worldwide. Remoteness on a local and international level characterizes the contact with and within Paraguay.
It is this taxing context in which architects Solano Benítez and Javier Corvalán are working. With visionary clarity both architects alter conjectural detriments of scarcity and limitations into assets. With straightforward frankness they demonstrate that necessity is the mother of invention and human creativity remains a guarantee for culture. How to accomplish sustainability and suitability at all scales are the lessons to be learnt from these architects. Although their works are distinctly different artistic articulations it is the cultural context and its interpretation that connects their actions. Solano Benítez’ audacious brick structures are hand crafted, rough, minimal and of strikingly beautiful elegance like the best engineering structures at all times. The featured Abu & Font house earned him the prestigious Swiss BSI Architectural Award in 2008. Like pioneers he and his team boldly conquer new fields of construction even if using familiar and traditional products.
Javier Corvalán’s fine sense of observation results in incredibly stimulating and flexible spaces – be it a private house, a cultural center, a library, or his own house and office. The intentional informality of the plan is consequently and successfully transformed into experimental plastic configurations. A subversive dismissal of traditional definitions of an object not to mention a building, its meaning and its technical representation is key to the chosen tectonic order which more than once relies on transformations of ready-mades or trivial construction methods.
ISBN 978 3 8030 0759 9 Size 29,5 x 21,5 cm. Paperback Illustrations 170 colored illustrations and 30 plans Edition 1st edition, original edition Release July 2013