Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Surreal Architecture of Smiljan Radic

Smiljan Radic and Marcela Correa, Extension to the charcoal-burner’s hut, 1998, Santa Rosa, Chile. Photo: Smiljan Radic.

from the article,

Though we share acquaintances, Smiljan Radic and I have never met in person, nor spoken over the phone. This interview is the result of a series of email exchanges between Smiljan in Santiago and myself in Mexico City during October of 2008. Radic, when speaking about his projects, likes to quote René Char: “To suppress distance is to kill.” This conversation did not make the effort to suppress the distance but rather to make the most out of it, expanding progressively as we went along, sometimes exchanging three or four quick responses over a single day, and sometimes waiting days to reflect. This has resulted in a familiar conversation among strangers.

Radic belongs to the first generation of Chilean architects to have a global presence. I first came across his architecture in the mid-’90s, when international architecture journals in Europe and North America started to publish his work, most notably two of his houses on the island of Chiloé. From these early projects on, his work has combined visual appeal with intellectual rigor. Seeming both natural and foreign to their sites, his projects are equally designed and found objects, finished as much as ongoing. When talking about his work, Radic is less likely to describe the projects than to discuss ideas surrounding them, the effects they produce, and the way they connect to the larger world. It is precisely Radic’s bricoleur-like range of references and his relaxed approach to style, language, and method that make his work so relevant in architecture today.


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