Navarro Baldeweg, Juan

Navarro Baldeweg, Juan
b. 1939, Santander
   Navarro Baldeweg has the unusual distinction of having scored notable successes as both architect and painter. His academic career embraces both these fields. After studies at the Escuela de Bellas Artes San Fernando (School of Fine Arts) in Madrid, which he entered in 1959, he qualified as an architect in 1967. Subsequent to completing his doctorate in 1969, he was appointed to a Chair in the School of Architecture in Madrid, and became associate professor at the Massachussets Institute of Technology from 1971–5. He was also visiting professor at Yale in 1990. Despite the predominantly architectural emphasis in his academic career, he won the Premio National de Artes Plásticas (National Prize for the Plastic Arts) in 1990 for his achievement as a painter. Most of his architectural creations consist of prize-winning projects which he frequently submits to closed competitions. One example is the town-planning project Ordenación de San Francisco el Grande (1982, Madrid), followed, a few years later, by the Social Centre Puerta de Toledo (1986–8, Madrid). This work displays the chief characteristics of Navarro Baldeweg's architectural taste: elements of modern tradition, a feeling for structure and a liking for more personal shapes combined with sculptural artistry. His best-known work is the Salamanca Conference and Exhibition centre (1987–91), a massive piece of architecture intended to merge harmo-niously with the old quarter of the city. The external elevation is visually in keeping with the old frontage, and the choice of materials helps to achieve a sympathetic blend with this homogeneous cluster of historic buildings. The interior displays both inventiveness and flexibility in the spatial geometry. The main auditorium is covered by a huge circular vault, which, despite the rectangular shape of the room, rests directly on the outside walls, leaving the interior space completely free and making the building even more spectacular.
   Navarro Baldeweg's painting is characterized by a great spontaneity of line, composition and colour, and is generally abstract in style, displaying something of the liveliness of a Raoul Dufy or a Pierre Alechinsky.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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