Hedjuk in Santiago

Among the few projects built by John Hejduk, Santiago has a small socio-cultural centre designed by this architect. The project, developed in collaboration with a team of architects formed by Antonio Sanmartín, Elena Canovas and Leonardo Rietti, was concluded after the New York architect’s death in the summer of the year 2000. This is therefore John Hejduk’s posthumous project. This building, with stone and glass towers erected in the City of Culture, and initially designed for Belvís Park, makes Santiago one of the privileged cities with a project constructed by John Hejduk.

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A TRISCA SOCIO-CULTURAL CENTRE (1997-2003)
The building’s volume is suitably adapted to the existing fabric, completing an acute-angled corner. Its stone-slab façades contain expressive balconies with thick steel tubes, overlooking the street, and violent steel arrows, with a square-shaped cross section, inserted into the exterior plane, facing the enclosure of the Convent of Belvís. At the corner, in the building’s four floors, there are horizontal openings, whose windows continue the tight curve with which the corner is resolved.

The ground-floor roof is made of a concrete slab with fretwork of characteristic forms from Hejduk’s images. La Boda Española (The Spanish Wedding) is the title of the bas-relief completing and enhancing the value of Hejduk’s beautiful project in Compostela’s A Trisca neighbourhood.
LINES: NO FIRE COULD BURN compilation of poems published in New York in 1999. Seventy three poems written by a seriously ill Hedjuk full of sacred references and illustrated with drawings of Santiago cathedral.
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I WILL BUILT IT OF STONE
He spoke in an almost audible voice
a voice of vespers
I met one who experienced shipwreck
his captain mode a vow
when he witnessed the birth
of a Hell
a volcano pushed through
the surface of o disoriented sea
building a fire that challenged the sun
their ship disintegrated
imploding as it descended
a great suction mode the sand cloud
and forever hid the ship
the waves wrote words of salvation
the captain spoke in a calm voice
I will build a stone cathedral
off the coast of Africa
I will build in honor of the Virgin
I will make a miracle of construction
I will build it of stone
and it will be undersea
a great enclosing jetty will surround it
the blue Mediterranean
will fill its liquid volume
a womb of watery space
will accept the penetrating light of the sun
magnificent cables will ring
the massive bell
thick sound will rise
and break the seas surface
sending birds into sinking clouds
when will you start
it is already finished
have you not seen it
as I spoke to you
did you not sense its glory
and where you not overwhelmed
into silence with the vision
of the enclosed waters
and the holy Mother
and the erection of
the Son of God

Throughout all poems Lines is possible to recognize features of the architecture of A Trisca, but in this poem the fusion of their meanings, necessarily multiple and ambiguous, its links with the presence of the Santiago Cathedral, and evocations naval forms are very clear.
A Trisca shows up as a sharp bow on top of the A Trisca quarter, topping a traditional row of housing. From the deck, which is accessed by a piece that ends up the volume of vertical communications, you descry a full view of the city, dominated by the cathedral. The stranded ship, the ship that has survived several shipwrecks, becomes the vehicle of mystical expression, as a small temple profane, as if Hejduk would empty a small Compostela church to host the activities of a civic center, retaining all its spirituality. The skin of the building is a smooth surface of granite plaques cladding in a ventilated façade. The pieces are fragmented by an intermediate groove, which merges with the dark joins. This simple gesture and the location of the building on top of a sloping street magnifying their scale, the domestic scale, similar at its surrounding buildings, is perceived magnified. Windows play an important role in sharping the acute triangular volume, wounding it in the form of grooves, bolts or metal pails. The volume appears injured, cut, as a Christian martyr, but at the same time, creates and interior like the inside of a ship. The position and shape of the voids, which in some cases could not call windows create a dramatic effect of light. The space of each of the only spaces on each floor, is very simple and powerful to be revealed through a light that penetrates violently denying certain views and emphasizing with its level light texture of the concrete ceilings . The door, of small dimensions, without canopy or any hierarchical element, makes it disappear in the perception of the outside, reinforcing the idea of the boat.
The ceiling of the ground floor is a bas-relief complex, with variegated and recognizable forms of Hejduk, titled “The Spanish Wedding”, a statement of the joy of life, with the certainty of death, as a welcome, prepares us for the inner journey..
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Text, Fernando Agrasar
Translation, Carmen Fabregats

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