/// Traditional Construction of Mallorca. University of the Balearic Islands.
Assignatura impartida al Grau d'Edificació. Escola Politècnica Superior.
Professor responsable: Carles Marquès Barceló.
In 1964, Bernard Rudofski held an exhibition called Architecture Without Architects, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was dedicated to architecture non-pedigreed, vernacular, popular, anonymous, spontaneous, indigenous, rural and generally unknown. The exposed constructions, located outside the sphere of the history of Western cultured architecture, improved the habitat and showed the cultural progress of the societies that developed them. They were constructions where the way of life, adaptation to the environment and the climate are strongly linked.
In the same way, in our geographical context, the Island of Mallorca and the Balearic Islands, we find this architecture inseparable from the culture, the landscape and the available resources. It is based on extreme rationality, climate adaptation and the use of materials with low energy costs, often taken from the same construction site. The historic built corpus, in addition to buildings, is made up of all kinds of engineering and ethnographic elements which shape the landscape. When theese elements disappear, they do so by re-integrating into the ground, as if it were something like a compostable construction.
Architecture, landscape, water use, agricultural production form an integrated and interrelated system that acts like an open book, full of unique knowledge that is now more necessary than ever. We want, therefore, in the manner of Rudofski and so many others, to study and learn about our vernacular construction and extract the teachings that can help us face the current challenges. Traditional construction is an asset to carry out a contemporary architecture that is close and respectful, incorporating local materials and traditions whenever possible. At the same time, it allows us to intervene with knowledge about historic buildings in restoration and rehabilitation projects. In the teaching context of the Higher Polytechnic School, it allows students to access a more open knowledge, and sometimes as useless as it is interesting, which transports us to the past, looking to the present and which, due to its geographical specificity, is not teached at any other University.
The teaching period is one academic term, in which part of the content is provided in theoretical classes, and another is developed by going out into the field and directly visiting buildings, quarries, factories, workshops and even making dry stone. Personal experience is what can open the student’s true interest, and thus enrich the range of possibilities that a university career and professional life gives them.
Classes are understood as spaces where knowledge can be shared and made to grow, stimulating new questions and a critical sense of what we study. We are professionals who will work in practical and real cases, and who face contradictions and difficulties which are not always reflected in academic work.
We start the course dealing with specific and technical applications, to gradually open up to broader knowledge, until we reach the known origins of the history of Mallorcan architecture. Let’s do a summary:
– How construction materials were extracted, transported and transformed over the centuries and how it is done now, from the earth to the marsh, wood, or ceramics among others.
– The most common construction techniques, especially in architecture and popular ethnography, to be the most frequent.
– Contemporary buildings that recover and update local materials and techniques.
– Rehabilitation of historic buildings based on traditional knowledge.
– Different types of traditional construction in multiple fields of use such as hydraulics, agricultural production, or the use of natural resources, among others.
– The evolution of architecture in general and the house in particular, linked to the culture and needs of society at each moment.
– The town planning of the historic city and rural planning in antiquity and the Middle Ages, from which much of Mallorca’s current territorial planning derives.
– The architecture known in older times from the Talaiotic era, through the Roman and Islamic and the influence on the construction techniques for later times.
In parallel to the theory, workshop work based on concrete buildings is carried out. They are analyzed at a historical, evolutionary, ethnographic and constructive level, in order to understand how they have evolved so far. Knowing and understanding a place allows you to analyze it critically and value it.
For further information >>