This year the Guiding Architects Meeting took place in Andalucía. It was hosted by Blanca, our Guiding Architects Member in Andalucía. The last year has been very successful for all members with more than 3.000 tours and almost 36.000 participants. The meeting this year was the first informal meeting. Therefore, we were less focused on bureaucracy but on continuous development.
Blanca explained that Andalucía has a surface of 87.268 square kilometres and is therefore bigger than Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria or Switzerland. The different landscapes have various colours and scents, the special light has become a profound element of the architecture in this region. Andalucía is placed at the interface of Europe and Africa, where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea meet. Many different cultures have left their traces in this area and in the turn of history have contributed to an unbelievable heritage. Andalucía has a lot to offer: Only 40 kilometres away from the skiing area in the Sierra Nevada you will find tropical valleys or volcanic deserts.
After a morning of skiing on top of the mountains in the Sierra Nevada we had a complete change of scenery in the afternoon. The bus took us to the sea in only 30 minutes, where a sunny spring day was expecting us. After a tasty Paella lunch in one of the beach bars, we went for a stroll along the coast.
What is a visit of Granada without visiting the Alhambra!
On the next morning we met at the Plaza Nueva and experienced the iconic building (which in reality is a whole city) led by Blanca. We were divided in different teams. That way we had a great combination of team building event and architectural guided tour. We had to split the tasks within our teams in order to be able to answer all the tricky questions Blanca had prepared. What an experience!
The Alhambra was built in the 13. and 14th century from the Moors as the glorious residence of the Kings of the Nasrids. It is the landmark of Granada and a real crowd-puller. Luckily Blanca had reserved tickets months before.
We were especially lucky, because Blancas family is one of the few that is still living in the Alhambra. We were treated to a coffee break in the patio of the house of Blancas uncle inside the Alhambra. Later on we even used the meeting room in the legendary Palace of Charles V. for the presentation of our progress.
Saturday was designated to continuous education. We had chosen the school of architecture as our meeting place. The school is located at Campo del Principe in the heart of the old Jewish quarter of Realejo. Team building, workshops and a marketing lecture where on the agenda before Blanca explained the architectural school on a guided tour to us as well.
Guiding Architects meeting in Andalucía
On our last day, Sunday, Blanca introduced us to the city of Granada in a different way. We crossed the town in one section, starting at the highest point and ending at the lowest.
In the morning the bus took us all the way up to the top of the mountain San Miguel with its fascinating view over the snow covered mountains on one, and Granada with the Alhambra on the other side. We experienced how the landscape and the town are connected with each other and how a certain chaos also builds up an interesting contrast. Up here Antonio Jiménez Torrecilla has realized a small, but very impressive project: the Nazari Wall.
A wall that is intended to provide visual continuity (especially in a distant view) for the stretch of wall, redefining the lost historical boundary and protecting the original remains.
Structurally, the massive and solid presence becomes unnecessary, so its interior becomes an empty space, a genuine singular point of the project: a passage that allows us to walk inside the walls, a mysterious doorway that connects two historically different parts of the city, evoking the underground Granada and at the same time, the hallways of the defensive enclosures. In the new wall, a simple stacking of stone slabs arranged one above the other leave a series of minimum random gaps that from the inside, allow a view of the city. A contemporary, fragmented and changing view that recreates the view we have from the lattice of the Alhambra.
A long stone staircase led us all the way down from here to El Albaicín. It is the oldest quarter of Granada. White, terrace shaped buildings, angled streets and small squares remind us of the Moorish background of the city.
We visited another interesting project of Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas, the museum Jose Guerrero. Afterwards we continued into the city centre. The last project was as well the lowest point of the tour. The new Underground station „Genil“, also designed by Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas.
Unfortunately our travel was almost over by now. We have experienced a region, that relates to its cultural roots and creates contemporary architecture in dialogue to the historical background.
Muchas Gracias Blanca! Thank you Guiding Architects!