Photographing the City of Culture by Peter Eisenman, Spain
– Editorial use only
Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk
Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain
An architecture of modern deconstruction
The City of Culture by US-American architect Peter Eisenman represents an important piece of contemporary architecture. The complex is perceived from the town of Santiago de Compostela as a single block gently nestled on the top of a green hill, epitomizing the shell of the peregrine. As you move around through the countryside and reach the main entrance parking on the opposite side, the shape of the ensemble begins to visually split itself into multiple buildings made of curves, stones and glass. Approaching the entrance, volumes and curves begin to overlap in a sublime tangling. Only by entering further inside the built area, the visitor can finally discern the single entities, linked together by wide open spaces, squares and alleys.
I interviewed a few local people about their general opinion on the City of Culture. While a half of them are pleased with the work, the other half don’t, making arguments about aesthetic, function and even politics. From my experience I can say that is not uncommon that local people don’t fully understand contemporary architecture when placed in their own surroundings, especially near other historical contexts. I saw a similar attitude in San Sebastián, Spain when the new Rafael Moneo’s Kursaal Congress Centre and Auditorium was built. The same happened with Renzo Piano’s auditorium in Rome, Italy. Zaha Hadid Maxxi musuem and The Cloud by Fuksas in Rome, Italy too, were welcomed with mixed sentiments by the Roman people.
I find the general plan and design very innovative, original and powerful. The volumes and shapes, capable to seamlessly change and reorganize themselves in the observer’s mind, are a perfect visual and perceptual adaption to the function. I arranged the photos to make this mental an physical deconstructive path as much evident as possible.
I used 8×10 format which is my preferred for this kind of architectural shooting.