Rafael Moneo

Rafael Moneo came from Madrid last night to give this year’s Annual Architecture Lecture at the RA.   He eschewed the usual format of talking about his own work and instead talked about the traditional involvement of the architect in history and theory, going back to the Vitruvian belief in commodity, firmness and delight and the writings of Albert, Serlio and Vignola.   There was much discussion afterwards as to how far it was a critique of Rem Koolhaas’s idea as expressed in his Venice Bienniale that architecture can be reduced to a kit of parts which can be assembled arbitrarily, without a sense of rootedness in building.   I certainly took it as a statement of belief in the role of analysis, the understanding of history and of the craft of building in intelligent architectural composition, as one might expect from the architect of buildings like the Museum of Roman Art in Mérida, the Kursaal in San Sebastián, and the recent extensions to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Prado in Madrid.

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