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DAVID CARR-SMITH - IMPROVISATION / DESIGN / ART / KITSCH / CHANCE

VERNACULAR PRAGMATISM & STYLE

BERDUN VILLAGE  

 

 

INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN A'DAM SQUATS & COLLECTIVES
 
IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS
  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
  
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN / VERNACULAR VILLAGES  
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO  
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS   
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES

ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA  
GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART 
DESIGN & CHANCE  

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   VERNACULAR PRAGMATISM - p1: BERDUN
> VERNACULAR PRAGMATISM - p2: VERNACULAR VILLAGES >  

 

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VERNACULAR PRAGMATISM EITHER EXPANDS ITS SCOPE, OR TRANSMUTES INTO STYLISTIC EXPRESSION

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EG:  BERDUN VILLAGE, PROVINCE OF HUESCA, SPAIN - IN LATE 1970's, 1980 and 2004
[All written 2007 - ]

In the 1970s this hill-top village began to display the results of a rather sudden increase of wealth. This effected the farm buildings and the village houses differently. 

The farm buildings continued as they always had, to espouse only pragmatism, even though this new wealth changed their means of construction. The farm storage-buildings had always been adapted and enlarged by grafting extensions onto originals, at first using the local building material of river-pebbles and hand-formed ceramic tiles, more recently using industrial products like lightweight air-bricks and breeze-blocks. With sufficient money and larger scale cultivation this finicky work was bypassed and entirely new and much larger volume storage-buildings were made of industrial mass-materials assembled via increasingly industrial types of organisation. However even in this latter phase of factory-like efficiency, acquisition and fabrication, there is a persistence of individualistic craft and local bias, amusingly displayed in the ' final 'finishing'' of some of the buildings: patches of hand-applied cement-render, graffiti-like 'play' with paint, uncompleted tasks. However (unlike the treatments the village homes received) these 'personal quirks' are never concerned with applying 'meaningful-motifs', they are always a direct expression of activity (or its termination), and thus (with the usual proviso that human activity is per se imperfect/discontinuous, lacking, at least in its physical expression, the evolving continuity of nature) result in forms/patterns that harmonise with and are complementary to the products and results of natural 'chance' [this is most clearly shown in the last barn picture below].

The village houses however increasingly exhibited symptoms of 'design-disease'. The facades of many of these ancient buildings, exemplars of vernacular stone/wood building crafts and financial restrictions - severely practical except for their windows' white painted superstition-required surrounds and their huge arched stone street-entries displaying the arms of the local lord - were covered in render, flat and squared (like hoardings), and adorned with a mélange of style quotes and newly acquired 'modern' practicalities: a muddle of clean rectangles, kitsch motifs, and 'home-improvement' objects, all competing to convey their owner's taste, means, modernity, originality, and even 'excess'. 

BERDUN VILLAGE IN THE ARAGON VALLEY

(pic 1978 / to E)

BERDUN VILLAGE

(pic 1978 / to NW)

BERDUN VILLAGE

(pic 1978 / to W)


BERDUN VILLAGE:  FARM BUILDINGS  - REMAIN PRAGMATIC THROUGHOUT TECHNICAL AND WEALTH-INDUCED CHANGES  

VERNACULAR BARN - (BERDUN - S FIELD) - RIVER-STONES, TIMBER, FIRED-CLAY (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1979)

This is the product of a building craft developed in reciprocation with locally abundant (natural) materials and local workshop-based manufactures. In this case river pebbles (the village is sited between two shallow rivers in the wide flat mountain-fringed Aragon valley), timber (mainly from small local trees), and clay. The walls are dry-laid, the timber is minimally shaped, the fired-clay tiles were probably of local workshop manufacture. Such a building is the last manifestation of what must surely be an ancient craft lineage.

This 'simplest-practical-shape' persists even through enlargement and change of construction-material [see below].
 

VERNACULAR BARN: WALL DETAIL - (BERDUN - S FIELD) -  RIVER-STONES, STONE-SLABS, FIRED-CLAY (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)    ... in process

 

VERNACULAR BARN - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) - RIVER-STONES, CEMENT-RENDER, TIMBER, FIRED-CLAY (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 8-1980) [film has colour-bias]

This marvelously perfect pattern of objects includes straw-stalks and pebbles, litter, temporarily placed things-in-frequent-use, movable parts of the building, render-patterns and roof-tiles, and the shapes of the composites of these. The harmony also extends off-picture including other local structures and traces of use. 

This ('Arcadian') type of unreproducable beauty is only attainable via 'innocence' - via activities empty of any intention beyond immediate practicality, which result in instantly-experienceable and temporarily present 'patterns-of-use'. 

HAY-STACK, ETC - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 8-1980)

The wonderfully harmonious patterns, that result from human activities ranging from mere physically convenient placing to the 'random' discarding of litter, can be so perfect and so complex that they resemble and are almost in continuity with the harmonious complexities of nature. [Ref: DESIGN & CHANCE]

 

VERNACULAR BARN: DOOR, ETC - (BERDUN - # FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1983)    ... in process

What a marvellously coherent composition of separately motivated events/parts

 

VERNACULAR BARN - (BERDUN - E FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)

Here is another example of exquisitely precise yet fortuitous patterning.

The rounded triangle of straw-waste perfectly underpins, like an embryo growing to an adult, the hard and sharpened barn (even sharing a slight asymmetry and leftward motion). 

To its left - framed in a forestage of beam bits like a broken sketch of the barn's angles - a wooden oblong counterpoints the heap's roundness, (imports a white triangle from the right end), divides the space between heap and pole-shadow, to which it is corner-joined by a brown diagonal which accelerates the heap's right incline up to its antithetical form, the gray pole (which apotheosises the barn's angle via its soaring wire). 

Meanwhile, the white village, raised to the sky like a vision, scatters white fragments of its cubic forms among the foreground litter of the barn.

This set of objects perform a precise visual drama that in its formal perfection, contrapuntal complexity, depth of participating detail, is impossible to manufacture (let alone verbalise) except via 'innocent' activities akin to natural processes.

 

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED - (BERDUN - S FIELD) - RIVER-STONES, TIMBER, FIRED-CLAY (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1979)

This barn once resembled the first example. The progenitor is still discernable, encased in the end-wall. Like several in this locale it was heightened by moving the apex of its pitch towards one side.

 

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED - (BERDUN - S FIELD) - RIVER-STONES, INDUSTRIAL AIR-BRICKS, CEMENT, TIMBER, FIRED-CLAY (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)

Like the former example, an old river-stone barn was enlarged by moving its apex, however this more recent addition uses cheap lightweight industrial air-bricks, (new roof tiles are presumably still manufactured by semi-craft methods (?))  

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED - (BERDUN - E FIELD) - RIVER-STONES, TIMBER, FIRED-CLAY, INDUSTRIAL AIR-BRICKS, CEMENT (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)

Unlike the former example, what remains of this old river-stone barn is overwhelmed beneath a vertical extension of lightweight air-bricks. A 'canvas' for a dramatically active, bizarrely chaotic, 'painterly' rendering - a performance of traditional 'tachiste' technique of thrown wet cement!

Note again: because it has no aesthetic/Design aim, this behaviour, though (seemingly) indulgently 'individualistic' is as naturally dramatic as sudden weather.

 

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED & RE-ROOFED - (BERDUN - E FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)

 

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 08-1980)

 

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED - (BERDUN - E  FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN) 

(pic 1978)

 

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED (FRONT) - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)

The entry front of this old barn reveals a complex reconditioning and extending in progress.

VERNACULAR BARN: ENLARGED (BACK) - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)

VERNACULAR BARN: (BACK) PLUS NEW ADDITION - (BERDUN - NE FIELD)

(pic 8-1980)

Two years after the last picture a huge new barn - either an extension of the old or a replacement has begun. A concrete base has been laid and the first steel former erected (displaying 'the shape that represents all barns').

 

VERNACULAR BARN - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) - BREEZE-BLOCKS, CEMENT (LATE 1970s)

(pic 1978)

Rather than enlarging the stone barns, they are now being replaced with large industrially enabled sheds. These are products of a building craft based on manufactured (not locally gathered) construction materials: breeze or cement-blocks, cement morter and render, and roofing-panels probably fabricated in a light-industrial workshop, most likely on the nearest town's (Jaca) relatively recent 'industrial-estate'.

Land clearance and wheat growing (a change in agricultural scale and technology) powered such scale-changes. However, unlike the village houses' newly stylised facades, these barns simply represent a new phase of practical vernacular craft, but reciprocating with a wider catchment of transport and materials.  

VERNACULAR BARN (FRONT) - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) - BREEZE-BLOCKS, CEMENT, PAINT, STEEL (LATE 1970s)

(pic 1979)

 

VERNACULAR BARN (BACK) - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) - BREEZE-BLOCKS, CEMENT, PAINT, STEEL (LATE 1970s)

(pic 1979)

An industrial 'Primitive Hut'! Though the whole form of this most-simple enclosed volume confronts nature, the forms of its components increasingly approach and blend with natural events. Firstly the slightly irregular stains of its rows of wall-blocks submerged beneath variously sized and coloured rectangles of cement render, each patch a single unit of work performed and walked away from. Surmounting this, an inexplicable intrusion of gestural paint like a frieze of hyperactive clouds is brushed, splattered and dribbles, as if 'demonstrating' a collusion of chance and gravity; mimicking the gestures of a shadow-tree while contrasting its direct act with that secondary effect. As this paint skies its crown, so the barn's base is grounded in a gravity-graduated stripe of blown orange soil-dust and a tight scarf of sun-bleached grass trimmed straight by passing vehicles, that adds its bristling foreground actuality to the dusty sunset, springing shadow bush, and dancing clouds. 

Thus this intrusive object - apparently so violently discontinuous with nature - because made without meanings and sharing its practicality, blends and by degrees allows and cooperates with the actions of natural law and chance. 

VERNACULAR BARN ENLARGED - (BERDUN - NE FIELD) - BREEZE-BLOCKS, CEMENT, PAINT, STEEL (LATE 1970s & DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 4-06-2013)  ... in process

The same barn as above 35 years later, but with exactly the same half-finished paint job (somewhat faded) on its cement facade, but without its dramatically red front-door - now in what seems to be the currently prevailing 'country-blend' green.  

A large extension has grown from its side - made on-site, with crudely cast-concrete piers, cement-block infill walls, and a steel and wood raftered roof, covered (apparently) with the same asbestos-style(?) corrugated sheets as the older barn.
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VERNACULAR BARN - (BERDUN - E FIELD) - STEEL WITH CAST-CONCRETE(?) HALF-HEIGHT SIDE-WALLS (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 4-06-2013)    ... in process

The purest example on this barn-infested location of a factory pre-fabricated ('industrial-estate-vernacular) metal shed. A symbol-stripped pragmatically-purified abstraction of its Parthenon precursor.

 

 

 

VERNACULAR BARNS (NEW & OLD) - (BERDUN - E FIELD) - STEEL & CEMENT-BLOCKS PLUS OLD STONE BARN (DATES UNKNOWN)

(pic 4-06-2013 / to NNE)    ... in process

This cattle-serving and machinery-housing complex includes an old barn (still, at least externally, in its 1978 condition [see pic above]); its vast new neighbour; fenced spaces that conjoin them, and cattle associated hoppers

This S-end of the big shed and its fronting yard stores and embarks machinery; the N-end of the site serves cattle. 

VERNACULAR BARNS (NEW & OLD) - (BERDUN - E FIELD) - STEEL & CEMENT-BLOCKS PLUS OLD STONE BARN (DATES UNKNOWN)

(paste-up x2-pics 4-06-2013 / to E)

This complex aggregation of a new and old barn; an enclosed yard and barn-shelter for the animals (and at the new barn's far end for machines), with special hoppers for ###.
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VERNACULAR BARNS (NEW & OLD) - (BERDUN - E FIELD) - STEEL & CEMENT-BLOCKS PLUS OLD STONE BARN (DATES UNKNOWN)

(paste-up x2-pics 4-06-2013 / to EES)

Fenced semi-sheltered yard for the cattle; in the far corner (pic: cntr) between the new and old barns is an access gate; on the left is the portion of the new barn that shelters cattle.
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BERDUN VILLAGE:  HOUSES - 'DESIGN-DISEASE' STIMULATED BY NEW WEALTH     ... in process

With the increase of wealth, the village houses began to be 're-clothed' in styles both fanciful and snobby. A horrible contagion of visual clarity and stylistic posturing began to spread through the ancient village. The pictures of unadorned local-vernacular [below] are the rear 'farm-entry' facades - on this village's inner streets houses were already being 'styled' [1]. The increase of leisure was signalled by self-indulgent 'creative' decoration; a widening of cultural awareness was evidenced by their transformation (to the degree that their vernacular carcasses and owners income could support) into grotesque 'models' incorporating fragments of prestigious historical styles. This 'disease' has spread from individual home owners to administrators, and the whole village - once a magnificent monument to the creative exigencies of necessity - is now (2004) a puerile theme-park of quaintified oldiness, a monument to pretentious ignorance and silly vanities. 

However there is (only) one example of a house [see below: pic-7] that displays a radical improvement whose construction is a practical/improvisational response to a need and the availability of its means. This is a marvelously economic and completely useful addition of a huge terrace (facing the magnificence of the then unspoiled peace of the Aragon valley). This was made at some time before 1929 (well before the plague-like spread of a desire for the social endorsement of mass-marketed taste) when local vernacular builders were still constrained by pragmatism but evidently had wider resources than local stone and wood, in this case access to (scrapped?) industrial metal structural units. This is an improvised result with no style but the presence of a free-seeing intelligence, and no meaning beyond its usefulness.

The majority have so utterly hidden the originals as to have cut themselves adrift in a sea of stylistic choices. However it seems that after a few years exposure to a village of individualised muddles and dead-blank facades, monumental pragmatism is being resurrected as a 'local tradition' and perceived as a chic style choice. Thus, first the district Council office, and then some houses have been re-historicised: stripped of their individualised clothes, re-stoned, semi-ashlared, and neatly cement-pointed. In this (relatively) wealthy time of choice, a transformation of what was once pragmatic necessity into film-set 'medieval/vernacular' is sweeping up quirky individualism and re-presenting the village in a guise of tribal-history (its authenticity ratified via municipal tourist historical-info signage, plus 'crazy-paved' streets and twiddly iron street-lamps with associated lianas of black cabling), and the pride of its modern 'villagers' is invested by their 'culturally-advanced' local council in their becoming the living inhabitants of a dead pretence !  

 

NOTE :

    1:   To assist mourning the passing of the marvellous here are examples from local but (in 1980) less corrupted villages [VERNACULAR VILLAGES].

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE (REAR FACADE) - (N-EDGE ROAD) (DATE UNKNOWN)
(pic 1980)

Built of local river-stones, timber and fired-clay.

The growth of walls, their final shape, the disposition of openings and reinforcing structures, are almost entirely pragmatic. Uncorrupted by style and snobbery, the proportions, positions, rhythms of these local-vernacular buildings are inevitably analogues of natural forms.

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE (REAR FACADE) - (N-EDGE ROAD>) (DATE UNKNOWN)
(pic 1980)

Built of local river-stones, timber and fired-clay.

VERNACULAR HOUSE (REAR FACADE) - (N-EDGE ROAD) (DATE UNKNOWN)
(pic 1979)

Built of local river-stones, render, timber and fired-clay.

VERNACULAR HOUSE (REAR-FACADE) - (N-EDGE ROAD) (DATE UNKNOWN)
(pic 1980)

VERNACULAR HOUSE (REAR-FACADE) - ( (pic 1978)

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE (REAR FACADE: BUTTRESS & BALCONY) - (N-EDGE ROAD) (DATE UNKNOWN)

(pic 1978)

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE WITH IMPROVISED TERRACE - PASEO SOLANO  (S-EDGE ROAD)
(pic c1978 / to N)

Free improvisational architecture unconstrained by 'how buildings should be realised'. The vernacular building's given form plus locally available and/or reusable  materials (including a long steel pipe), enabled a clearly visualised need to be actualised with extraordinary economy and flair. 

The terrace must have been added before 1929. It is the village's only obvious house example of the medieval stone and wood vernacular, transiting, without compromising its severe pragmatism, into the industrial age. 

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE: RENDERED - 30 CALLE MAYOR (S-SIDE)
(pic 1978 / to SSE) 
... in process

Unpretentious render and whitewash cover the stone wall surface. Possibly motivated by main-street pride (though now decayed), perhaps (also) to stabilise and/or weather-seal the wall. Because it doesn't deviate into aesthetics such refacing can be accepted as simply a final level of pragmatic vernacular construction, in tune with the more robust structures behind it - it seems to lack the total destructiveness of the facade transformations that follow - even those that 'preserve' vernacular features by displaying them like trophies (hiding their structural roles by isolating them as individual 'exhibits' and diminishing their power and dignity to 'curious' remainders of the 'primitive'). An early example is # 32 - the facade to the right of this one [see directly below].

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 16 CALLE DEL CASTILLO ( C. GENERAL FRANCO) (N-SIDE)
(pic 1980 ? to NNE)

This large refaced house obsessively displays a decor-theme of 'illustrated rustication' (or what the british call 'crazy-paving') - presenting examples like paintings in a gallery!

This seems to be (judging by the degree of weather and street erosion of the lower facade) an early example of a total facade-replacement [other examples accumulate below]. 

 

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED (FACADE MOTIF) - 16 CALLE DEL CASTILLO ( C. GENERAL FRANCO) (N-SIDE)
(pic 1980)

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE: RENDERED - 32 CALLE MAYOR (S-SIDE)
(pic 1978 / to SSE)
A house at an  early stage of visual enhancement. Adorned with a modestly decorative balcony railing; its stone structural-units emphasised and clarified (like a child colouring-in a shape); its road-splash level disciplined with an illustration of strictly ordered stonework (ashlar has always connoted wealth or public-status) - its original constructional harmony disrupted by separately individualising each of its parts. The result is bizarre: a geometrically simplified and visually clarified yet 'random' stack of forms - a quasi-sculptural collage, sharply clear, yet as a whole composition, unconscious.

Its final indignity is dealt by the gung-ho (almost Indian) street-service cabling, which in cooperation with the house drainpipe (these buildings used to wonderfully spurt storms directly from roof level), and without the slightest visual respect, pits free and asymmetrical gestures against the desperate discipline of the facade.

The irony and comedy of this manifestation of modern techno (product of a microscopic research into order) is that its practicality-driven installing images a modern free vernacular that is in head-on competition with the resurgent fetishistic 'folk-art', which strives (yet pathetically fails) to celebrate and boastfully display a strict control of order!

Capping the whole scheme is a sinisterly ludicrous vision (a typical phantasmagoric product of such agglomerations of disassociated parts): the central symmetrical stack of elements resembles the posture of a pompous figure with spread legs planted firmly on their gray plinths or straddling the central doorway like the hind view of a rider on a horse.

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED (STREET ENTRY) - 27 CALLE STA. CRUZ
(pic 1980 / to N)

This replacement street doorway (which perhaps cost the destruction of one of the village's magnificent cut-stone entries and iron-studded doors) is at least more practical and relaxed than the last example. The unpretentious practicality of its mix of off-the-shelf moderne door and metal sheeting infill (a left-over from a new industrial barn?) is emphasised by the flanking oil-can geranium pots, propped on random stone-shards.

 

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 1 CALLE MAYOR
(pic 1978 / to SW)

Around the mid 1970s, with the onset of relative prosperity resulting from the cultivation of wheat, a scramble to improve homes and display the advance of wealth began. A visual disease spread through the village: ancient vernacular river-boulder houses were crudely encased in cement render, squared-off and adorned with motifs from renaissance architecture and deco-modernism (rectangles, rustication, visual-clarity, etc), and 'improved' with 'convenience-products' and services.

The door and window positions (which originated in unity with the facades) were usually retained (though windows were often widened) and now appear awkwardly arbitrary within the rigid visual geometry, their dramatic rhythmical gestures constrained and 'neurotic'. A relevant motto for this 'method' of imposing piecemeal order on casually 'random' facades is "Divide and Rule"!

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE: REFACED - 19 CALLE DEL CASTILLO (C. GENERAL FRANCO) (N-SIDE)

(pic 1980)

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 38 CALLE DEL CASTILLO ( C. GENERAL FRANCO) (N-SIDE)

(pic 1980 / to NE)

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 10 CALLE DEL MEDIO(?)  
(pic 1980)

Perhaps the most frugal of all the re-faced houses. 

Its allegiance to a 'style' of rectilinear 'modernity', without any sense of visual harmony or the redeeming order of pragmatic necessity, has resulted in an ugly clash of crucially disjoined forms. However we should be grateful that this type of blind-pretension at least affords a special type of object, one that is impossible to achieve via any other type of motivation - one that displays an acute disorder in painful conflict with an exhibited intention to achieve a formal clarity, and which, because 'innocently' actualised, is (like similarly 'innocent' pragmatic forms) experienced not as 'illustration' but as immediately affective event!

VERNACULAR HOUSES REFACED - JUNCTION OF 10 & 8 CALLE DEL MEDIO(?)  
(pic 1980)  

A single facade (such as the previous #10) is disjointed and ugly because it is 'designed' by people who do not see its whole and/or know how to resolve it; and also - when it is a mere re-covering of the surface of an existing vernacular facade - because it must incorporate pre-existing structural openings such as windows and doors, whose positions are 'natural' only to the now hidden vernacular original. 

However, as a game: visually select a new 'facade'. Start by including two or more of these aesthetically un-integrated facades, this new unit will offer many opportunities for choosing/isolating aesthetically satisfying portions with relatively coherent visually rhythmical compositions. All their elements/objects (even though in themselves strictly controlled) participate as equally important parts in these new selections, and syncopate with each other within the new arena of uncontrolled chance conjunctions. 

 

VERNACULAR HOUSES REFACED - JUNCTION OF 10 & 12 CALLE DEL MEDIO(?)  
(pic 1980)

As soon as we move outside the aesthetically null yet strictly controlled area of a single facade, portions of relatively coherent pattern are visible.

VERNACULAR HOUSES REFACED - JUNCTION OF 10 & 12 CALLE DEL MEDIO(?)

(pic 1980)

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 15 CALLE MAYOR (N-SIDE)

(pic 1980 / to W)

A monster of blankness !

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 15 CALLE MAYOR

(pic 1980 / to NNE)

It seems that the dread emptiness of their new front was sensed by its makers, who having buried the vitality of a vernacular facade and bypassed an opportunity to realise more complex and fulfilling domestic provisions than that had allowed, attempted to revive their corpse by edging its orifices with a 'personal' version of a traditional framing-motif, and justify its 'imposing monumentality' with a 'wealthy manor-owner's door'. 

That habit ("tradition") is their only guide and precision their only aesthetic (the latter represents modernity and wealth), is exemplified in the problem/solution of the tile-frame corners: an exquisite if pointless fiat larded with a smug sense of 'I've solved it!' - the top tile line marches boldly beyond its 'supporting' facade-hole and finds itself coyly saved by the side-stacks and a coincidence of the tile-maker's craft: the tiles are proportioned 3:1.

 

VERNACULAR STREET REFACED - 34 TO 46 CALLE DEL CASTILLO (N-SIDE)
(pic 25-04-2009 / to WWN)    
... in process

#

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 36 CALLE DEL CASTILLO (N-SIDE)
(pic: © John Boucher 25-04-2009 / to
NNE  ... in process

#

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 40 CALLE DEL CASTILLO (N-SIDE)
(paste-up x3-pics 25-04-2009 / to NW)   
... in process

#

 

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 3 CALLE DEL HORNO (S-SIDE)

(pic 25-04-2009 / to SW)   ... in process

This revolting pudding embalms/displays the most memorable/typical/strange/eerie of its vernacular relics/trophies/curiosities/plumbs. These stones are the structural-aristocrats of the wall; the mere wall-surface was apparently considered commonplace - had no distinct gestalt, in itself it offered no mnemonic handles - its stones seemed mere multitude, merely hoi-polloi - it seems these 'moderns' are unable to see the patterns or appreciate the beauty of its quasi-natural forms: its manifest resistance to gravity, the accumulating balancing and mutual wedging of the stones; let alone perceive and honor the labour, skill and courage of its builders.

After such a thorough cover-up, from then on the style is a 'free-for-all'. Memory-trophies may be retained but these are isolated and thus (in the absence of any aesthetic sense) merely help to randomise the new 'style', or are often degraded into decorative doodles as a 'feature' of it [see next example]. Thus the aesthetic (non-design) unity of 'innocent' pragmatism is forever lost (no restoration of the original is physically possible) and style changes are (in principle) an open choice.

VERNACULAR HOUSE REFACED - 19 CALLE STA. CRUZ (N-SIDE)

(paste-up x2-pics 25-04-2009 / to NNE) 

The memory of the vernacular stones, both the stacked wall and the huge ones that protect openings, has degraded into adorning the facade with a few 'rusticated' opportunities for 'creative play' (perhaps a festive toast to a financial/technical release from the drudgery of the enforced labour of pragmatism). However a petty restraint is imposed upon this inventive fun by two 'necessities': 

The first is the necessity of aping 'architecture': what connotes a 'proper building'/what buildings are 'supposed' to be like (eg: rustications should be confined in rectangles and positioned like those of Baroque mansions).

The second is impressing the street with an orderliness that connotes 'respectability', especially, when combined with appropriate motif-patterns of remembered Architecture, famous exemplars of such. Here respectability is evoked by the blank 'pure' wall surface with its 'rustic' elements tightly restrained in rectangular borders and in psudo-correct positions relative to the features of the facade. However, their rather hectic and bizarre (almost 'primitive') patterns seem to signal a challenge to any puritanical restraints imposed on the joys of creativity!

VERNACULAR REBUILT: RURAL DISTRICT'S COUNCIL OFFICES & HEALTH-CENTRE (FORMER GUARDIA CIVIL HOUSE PLUS 30 CALLE MAYOR) - PLAZA STA. EULALIA (c1997)

(pic: © John Boucher 07-2004 / to SSE)

Starting about 15 years ago the most recent fashion in 'renovation' began: 'restoring' buildings 'back to their original appearance'. In this case all but the arched entry has been rebuilt 'in the style of' the vernacular. 

The conception, let alone the perception, that an illustration conveys a completely different experience than an original, was apparently not included in the village controllers' (or our) education! Besides its obvious features the original included a myriad sub-analysable sub-noticeable facts; its 're-creation', apart from a total lack of (or at least a completely different) necessity (let alone technology) driving every action of making, remembers almost nothing of the context of its origin or ageing of its being. It thus offers only a skin-deep, visual, more-or-less similitude; and all the subtle depths of an original, when searched for, are summed in ones attention as a sense of being in the presence of a very shallow and very present fake. This is the ironic aspect of such objects, that they stimulate in their viewer a sense of presentness usually associated with experiencing the presentness of an origination (of for instance a work of art) - however in their case they offer none of the (informational) rewards of discovery, only the presence of an absence (the kitsch version of 'presence'). To be transported back - we have to accept the accumulations of aging!

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INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN A'DAM SQUATS & COLLECTIVES
 
IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS
  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
  
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN / VERNACULAR VILLAGES  
GRAFFITI 
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO  
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS   
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES

ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA  

GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART 
DESIGN & CHANCE

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