Rafael Moneo (1)

I went to hear Rafael Moneo give what was described as the first Soane annual lecture at the Royal Institution, although I thought I had a shelf-ful of earlier ones in the Soane section of my library, and receive the Soane Medal, a replica of the medal that Soane was given in 1835 by ‘the Architects of England’.    It felt like a manifesto, deeply felt and dense with historical references.   There were two things which I will particularly remember.   The first was the way in which Moneo described Soane in the early 1830s at the end of his career mourning the loss of faith in the classical tradition as a younger generation began to experiment with radical pluralism: ‘Soane, who had shown his profound love and respect for Rome in the design of his own home, and his passionate collecting of classical antiquities, was conscious, perhaps with a certain melancholy, that he would represent the end of the deeply nostalgic English architecture that had taken the Eternal City as its inspiration since the time of Inigo Jones’. The second was the extent to which David Chipperfield, who was master of ceremonies and engaged Moneo in questions after the talk, so obviously admired Moneo for his compromise between modernity and the reference to history. He did an exhibition of Moneo’s work in his 9H Gallery in 1986, just at the time of the completion of the National Museum of Roman Art in Mérida. It showed the route out from postmodernism, a belief in the more cerebral, as well as material, qualities of building.

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2 thoughts on “Rafael Moneo (1)

  1. Excellent. Moneo is a very fine architect who has designed many buildings in the USA (Columbia University in New York, Princeton, Houston, Texas, the Davis Museum in Wellesley) but none, I think, here in the UK.

    Possibly that is the result of his Classicism being less showy than other excellent architects such as Calatrava.

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