Spain’s Unfinished business

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UNFINISHED, which was presented in the Spanish pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016, is on view at Intramuros’ San Ignacio church. — FACEBOOK.COM/LUISDIAZDIAZPHOTO

SPAIN’s 2016 entry at the Venice Architecture Biennale has found a temporary home at the reconstructed San Ignacio Church in Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila.

Called Unfinished, the work — which received the Golden Lion award for the best national pavilion in 2016 — is a response to the 2008 financial crisis which devastated Spain.

Showcasing man’s ingenuity in the face of adversity, the exhibit is a photographic series of possible solutions to problems that emerged from the financial crisis, which is also called the Great Spanish Depression or the Great Recession in Spain. The financial crisis, triggered by Spain’s housing bubble, led to the abandonment of construction projects, resulting in a landscape littered with many unfinished buildings — thus the title Unfinished.

Unfinished finds parallels in the Philippines which is itself littered with self-built, unfinished, or constantly changing buildings, making it possible to reflect on the underlying socio-economic dynamics in the architecture of this country. Also, Philippine historical buildings, many of which are architectural jewels, face issues of restoration or demolition to give way to modern edifices like shopping malls. Unfinished portrays how the people find ways to cope with the crisis, the same way the Filipinos find opportunities to make ends meet.

Unfinished, presented in the Spanish pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016, seeks to direct the audiences’ attention to the architectural processes more than results, which are, well, under construction.

The people behind the projects in Unfinished have understood the lessons of the recent past and considered architecture to be something unfinished, or always in a constant state of evolution and for the service of community and people.




The exhibit has come to Manila after travelling around Europe and other parts of Asia. It will be on view until Sept. 26.

The project is made possible by the Embassy of Spain and Instituto Cervantes de Manila, the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports, and the Intramuros Administration, with the support of Base Bahay Foundation and the collaboration of WTA Architecture + Design Studio. — Nickky F. P. de Guzman









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