June 2, 2020

“Despite the ruin, the Casa del Nio is a modern, spacious and ecological building” – La Provincia

‘The blue orphanage’ is the last book of the journalist Lorett Rodrguez. The work, edited by Canariasebook and financed by the Town Planning Councilor, is an architectural approach to the Casa del Nio, but also tells part of what happened in the city between 1938 and 1944. In addition, the book is accompanied by an exhibition of photographs and other historical materials that seek to move the visitor to this same place, which is currently abandoned.

Would you like to make a brief introduction of your book?

The book deals with the architecture of the Casa del Niño, designed by Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre, built between 1938 and 1944, which is rationalist in style and, precisely, that is what surprises the building, because that architecture style It is not done in Spain after the Civil War. On the contrary, it is rejected.

Why did you choose as a title The blue orphanage ?

Because the color of the Phalanx was blue and I found it interesting to give it this title because the Casa del Niño was an idea promoted by the civil governor and, finally, those who wore the orphanage were related in one way or another with the Phalanx, well being the Youth Front, the Social Assistance …

Why did you choose this theme for your work?

I have been researching and analyzing the work of Miguel Martín, one of the most important rationalist architects in Spain for several years, but who, for some reason, has never been studied. The Casa del Niño is, due to its size, one of its most important rationalist works and the authorities were planning what they could do with the facilities, to restore and reuse them … I found it interesting.

For you, what is unique about this place?

That takes up all the architectural knowledge promoted by the modern international movement, especially at the level of light and healthy spaces. With the idea that it had bright, healthy and functional spaces and that would provide a quality of life that was not in the previous architectures.

He says there are very few buildings of this style in Spain, why do you think they chose Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to build such a building?

Because it was part of the project of the new civil governor, a Falangist who wanted to build an orphanage for children who had been orphaned. He gets in touch with Miguel Martín and, this is my business, he decides to do something bigger, on a provincial scale, to start building a new Spain, inspired by Italian fascist ideas. In addition, as in 1938 there was still Civil War and no common language had been established at national level, it seems that applying this rationalist architecture could be the way to go from then on, which does not happen later and, therefore, there is no other buildings or similar.

In 2017, the Canary Islands Government declared the House of the Child Well of Cultural Interest, do you agree?

Yes, of course, but it is not enough because in these three years nothing has happened and the building is falling. It is in ruins, although it has been redecorated by graffiti artists who have recognized the value of the building, because they are no more graffiti, but have an interesting and modern idea. And I think that would not happen in a place that did not have a value in itself. It is a site that continues to inspire something different.

In previous works he deals with the figure and, above all, the work of Miguel Martín-Fernández de la Torre, what do you admire about his architecture?

He is a true pioneer of rationalist architecture throughout Spain. The more you approach its rationalist architecture, the more you realize that they are exceptional things at that time, at the end of the 20s, and we have it here in Las Palmas, which has not been appreciated or valued, in my opinion . That is the interesting thing that interprets the modern international movement, makes it their own and makes it something functional for the Canary Islands.

Do you consider that the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a reference for rationalism?

Yes, a reference of Spanish rationalism, which is not recognized.

In addition to the book, he presents an exhibition with the photographs he took for his work, what does he intend to convey with them?

I had the opportunity to see it calmly and I wanted to convey that, despite being in ruins, it is still a building with a modern, spacious, bright and even ecological concept. Also, I liked graffiti a lot, I thought it was an interesting way to keep the site alive.

From this place there are also urban legends that have even come out in mystery programs of great audience, what can you say about it? How was your experience?

I know those stories, but I didn’t feel anything strange. I was surprised myself, but it doesn’t convey any negative feeling, quite the opposite. Children who have spent their childhood there may have another perception, but the two days I went I can not say anything bad about it.

Who would you recommend the book to?

To everyone, not only to those who understand architecture. It combines architectural concepts with a strong historical link between what happened between 1938 and 1944 in the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and that can be interesting for people. The children who were there, may miss something that happened next, but that deserves further investigation.


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