Tropolism Books: Enric Miralles Works and Projects 1975-1995

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Title: Enric Miralles Works and Projects 1975-1995

Edited by: Benedetta Tagliabue Miralles

Publication Date: December 1, 1996

Publisher: The Monacelli Press

ISBN: 1885254431

Along with some issues of El Croquis from the mid-90s, this has got to be one of my favorite architectural monographs. Firstly, because it features one of my favorite architects, Enric Miralles. In case you hadn't noticed. More after the jump...

Enric Miralles' death in 2000 was a shock, and unexpected loss, a shift. He was 45, and died of a brain tumor at his home in Barcelona. Because even ambitious practicing architects do not get several large building commissions until they are at least 60, particularly in New York, it is fortunate that Miralles was able to build several very large and very experimental buildings in his lifetime. However, this does not offset the terrible feeling of future emptiness where we thought there would be decades of new work. This is especially so given Miralles' uniqueness. His work has the gothic logic of Gaudi, is a skeletal Corbusier, is a traced and retraced and bent and imperfect (freehand) Mies, logically irrational, with the dry execution of a civil engineer. His work is exceptionally beautiful, and it's only fitting that he's buried in Igualada, the cemetery that always looks unfinished.

This book was the last comprehensive monograph published before his death. At the time, it was like Richard Meier (volume 1): the implied first volume of a 'complete works' that would extend to a half-dozen tomes. His sudden death in 2000 means it rests as an incomplete volume of an oeuvre complete. The disappointing volumes issued by his studio since then, through El Croquis, have neither the scope, graphic simplicity, nor the encyclopedic breadth of this volume.

The second reason this is one of my favorite monographs is its format. The paperback volume is 9.5 x 8.8 x 1.0 inches: a studio book, resting comfortably next to one's keyboard, or in one's satchel, as one works. It has the potential to be with you as a source of constant inspiration. In the age of multi-volume megatomes encased in lucite or vacuum formed plastic (Zaha and Phaidon Press, I'm so totally looking at you), the modesty of this format means it can be a powerful companion. In our digital age, prescence and portability are everything.

The third reason: the layout. In our digital age (shifting just as this book was published) many monographs seem to rely entirely on rendered images and photography. This book is almost entirely photography and line drawings, and is one of the last books, in my collection at least, that draws specific connections between drawing and photographic representations of the built work, connections central to the architect's concerns. After meeting Miralles, his second wife Benedetta (I met them the night before their wedding, a story for a cocktail party), hearing him lecture several times, knowing a couple of his close friends, and of course through his books, it became clear that even though he was passionate about materials and buildings, he was equally passionate about the drawings, those wild and imperfect creatures that gave birth to his structures.

This book can be purchased at Amazon.


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