If we stick to the dictionary, lattice would be a wooden or metal lattice through which you can see without being seen. And if we accept the dissolution of the classical concept of façade (the façade understood as a series of holes made in a wall), nothing would be more modern than the lattice. The lattice, in its condition of superimposed double skin, helps to dissolve the enclosure and transfers values to the skin that previously played the structure or composition. Apart from the fact that recognizing the façade as an overlap of layers allows a multiplicity of readings very much in line with what the heroic pioneers of modernity preached, also in their day. The lattice enriches the texture of the facades, like a painting or a Japanese lacquer is enriched, brushstroke by brushstroke; as the onion grows, adding one skin over another, or the logs of wood, ring by ring, every year. And the tactile aspect of the materials is also a value of modernity, a value that painting already investigated in the fifties and that, today, in another way, continues to live in some ways of understanding architecture.
However, and at the same time, nothing is more traditional than lattice. The lattice is in the prison and in the convent, in the castle’s burlap and in the palaces of the Arab souks. Behind them are hidden, at will or against the grain, the prisoner and the monk’s prayer, behind them the security of the soldier or the chastity of a woman who cannot go out into the street, but is covered with veils is defended – is it the veil a certain type of walking lattice?-. The latticework is in the partially open blue shutters of the houses of Provence and in the curtains of Flanders, in the arcades of Santiago and in the sunrooms of our old Catalan farmhouses, in the paved streets of Seville in summer and on the porches of so many Medieval Italian cities. The sun, filtering through the treetops, repeats effects similar to that of the lattice. Perhaps, all things considered, there is no better lattice than a vineyard, loaded with grapes, at harvest time (and in this, Porto, as in so many other things, has a lot to say).
The lattice makes a fiery compliment to the shadow, as a subtle mechanism to enhance the light. Because, deep down, light is the only thing we have left. Architects build spaces for light to inhabit. Someone once said that architecture was “the wise and magnificent play of volumes under the light.” And light, more light is what Goethe asked for when he died. Because dying is simply not seeing the light anymore. Jemaa El-Fna… Perhaps, the most fascinating square in the world.
From the prologue of the book. Editions in Spanish / English, French / English and German / English.
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