When the house you grew up in is a work of art of architecture
In one way or another, the family home, the one where we grew up, always occupies a special place in our memory. But if it was also a space intentionally projected by one of the architects most recognized in Spain –Javier Carvajal, Barcelona, 1926– to awaken emotions, memories become even more intense. This is what happened to the photographer Cristina Rodríguez de Acuña (Madrid, 41 years old), who moved with her family to this famous house in 1996, two decades after the architect built it for himself. The house receives the proper name of Casa Carvajal and is still owned by the Rodríguez de Acuña family, although it was put up for sale last June for 3.9 million euros. The photographer says goodbye to what has been her family home with the photobook Crossed looks. The Carvajal House (Ediciones Asimétricas), in which he narrates his relationship with this space.
Cristina Rodríguez de Acuña perfectly remembers her arrival at the age of 16 at this house, an example of the brutalist Spanish architecture of the second half of the 20th century. “My mother fell in love with it, she knew how to see the value of its architecture, although at that time it was not appreciated as much as it is now,” he says. “It had been the property of the Chilean ambassador, but it had not been inhabited for a long time; when we arrived we had to remove the vines that covered the doors, it was like entering a burrow “.
That was precisely the title that director Carlos Saura used for the film that he shot at Casa Carvajal in 1969. In The burrow, the house was as important as its protagonists, Geraldine Chaplin and Per Oscarsson. Rodríguez de Acuña remembers seeing the film when he was a teenager, but “at that time we did not know that we lived in such a work of art.” In 1968, the house received the Best European Architecture award, awarded by the University of Hannover. A year later, he received the prestigious award Fritz schumacher from the University of Hamburg.
And, after having inhabited this burrowWhat can you aspire to? “Throughout these years, I have lived in many, many houses, but none like this one. The windows, the light projected in different places throughout the day, the continuous and open spaces that always favored the encounter between the family ”, he recalls. For the author, architecture not only evokes feelings, but also transforms people. “It is not the same to live in a cave than in a skyscraper, and we have seen that during confinement, how important it was to have at least one balcony, for example.”
Cristina Rodríguez de Acuña lived at Casa Carvajal until she was 22 years old, when she left to study outside of Spain. It was then that he began to realize how Carvajal’s purposeful architecture had entered his life and his memories. “The smell of wet earth drives me crazy and working on this project I realized that it was because my room in Casa Carvajal was buried, that is, the window was level with the ground, from where I could smell the grass perfectly” , tells about his bedroom, such an intimate and important space in adolescence.
“The Carvajal House is a container of nature, it is already visible, after so many years nature has taken over all the outdoor spaces,” he explains about the house of more than 1,000 square meters of construction and 5,000 of plot. To design it, Javier Carvajal was inspired by constructions such as the Alhambra in Granada, with central patios and fountains.