IconicHouses.org

icons at risk

Casa Guzman

Architect: Alejandro de la Sota
Year of completion: 1972
Location: Algete, Madrid, Spain

Demolished: 2017
Latest update 30 May 2020

  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • The construction that has replaced the Guzman House. Photo Laura Rivas Olmo.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.
  • The construction that has replaced the Guzman House. Photo Laura Rivas Olmo.

The Guzman House

The Guzman House, a key project of architect Alejandro de la Sota (Madrid, 1913-1996) in Algete, has been demolished. 'I feel a deep sadness, it was a very well-known work internationally', complains the dean of the College of Architects, José María Ezquiaga. 'It's a real nonsense,' says architect José María Pérez, Peridis. The architect Josemaría Churtichaga defines the chalet that has replaced the work of De la Sota as 'a dispensable and uncultured dish.'
While its first owner, Enrique Guzmán, friend of De la Sota who commissioned the house, taught the house to all the architecture students who came to see it. Guzman died, his heirs decided to demolish it and build a block of three plants instead. (Google translation from El Pais article). Source: El Pais, 14 January 2017.

Statement from the Fundación Alejandro de la Sota website

We are sorry to start the year 2017 giving the very bad news that the Guzman House of Alejandro de la Sota has been demolished to be replaced by a new home. Again, contemporary architecture suffers from the lack of culture, the lack of sensitivity, the lack of protection and the chain failure of the profession, the result of the neglect that is protected by what is legal. The Guzman House has been until today a reference work of contemporary Spanish architecture since Alejandro de la Sota built it in the seventies of last century for Enrique Guzmán in the Santo Domingo urbanization. However, nothing and no one has prevented his descendant from being able to make the decision to replace it with something else. It's the concept of mine is mine and I do with it what I want. In Architecture, unlike other Arts this is normal. No one imagines that an heir can destroy a painting or sculpture, burn a writer's manuscript. No one can imagine it and would have, in addition to the weight of the law, the scandal of society. In Architecture, however, it is possible and occurs too many times. We will have time for everyone to become aware of the value of this project in the recent history of Spanish architecture but, since its construction, it has been a reference visited, studied, published, enjoyed by generations of architects from around the world. Enjoyed, also and the first, by Enrique Guzmán, its owner and the one who made the commission to Alejandro de la Sota, an owner proud to receive during these forty years hundreds of students who came to contemplate his home. On more than one occasion he told us anecdotes of these visits, such as that of a Swiss architect who recognized him for making a reform in the interior rooms: “the original project was better known than myself” he told us.

A chain of disinterest, of unconsciousness, of laziness too, has left the fate of this work of architecture in the hands of those who do not love architecture, without anyone or anything defending it, that pelease for its conservation. There has been an architect who has not had the nerve to participate in its destruction to build his own project in that "new plot", whose quality we do not judge because the photos do it by themselves. And there has been an owner - the heir - that when this Foundation offered to the death of his father, to help him find an owner for that house that put in value and felt privileged to own that work, to restore it and keep it , has preferred to demolish it to make its own nonsense.

Casa Guzman. Uploaded by Jnu Jnu, 8 March 2017.

This is the reality in which art and especially architecture moves in Spain. No doubt, of course, there are many architects who love architecture, who recognize themselves in their masters, who know they are partakers of the same commitment as them. But perhaps as a collective not enough effort is made to protect what has value, in a conscious exercise of the laziness under the protection of sterile and aesthetic controversies, under the rule of fashion or what is carried, under the false commitment With nothing so nothing changes. The common heritage of good Spanish architecture built in the twentieth century - unlike other countries - does not enjoy any protection and will be slowly destroyed because among other things, there are many architects who do not believe in the need for their protection and are not reflected in that tradition as part of the best they can bring to society. Works of art are a scarce good, a scarce and essential good for society and, precisely for that reason, they are a common good that implies a common commitment to protect and enjoy them and transmit their values to future generations to whom they teach a form to act, a way of being that seeks and teaches that there are options beyond noise and business.

The physical disappearance of the Guzman House is a very serious matter for Spanish architecture that should make all those involved, the different public administrations, professional associations, and decision-making architects reflect and act. And hope this does not happen again. Lack of culture, lack of criteria, lack of commitment, lack of courage and, consequently, we lack today, once again, another exemplary work of Spanish architecture.
Photos: courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.

Literature

Alejandro de la Sota: An Architecture of Imperfection (Exemplary Projects)
AA Publications
2004
Buy the book

Casa Guzman

Alejandro de la Sota

1972, Spain

Casa Guzman. Photo courtesy Archivo Fundación Alejandro de la Sota.