PLAS Fellow Series featuring Joaquin Medina Warmburg
Visiting Research Scholar and Lecturer, Program in Latin American Studies and Princeton-Mellon Initiative
It is highly unlikely that the huge challenges posed by the current environmental crisis may be overcome without reconciling increasingly effective technologies. In the face of this challenge, architecture – having primary responsibility for the degradation of the environment – can contribute many valuable experiences built throughout the 20th century. Based on this hypothesis, this lecture will focus on some Latin American cases going through cultural constructions that connect architecture and climate in the context of modernism in the 1930s. The exile experience of European architects of the time, such as Wladimiro Acosta and Antonio Bonet in Buenos Aires, motivated a critique against the modernist ideal of ubiquity and the cultural conventions of comfort associated with the expansion of mechanical air conditioning. As a consequence, alternative proposals were developed that shaped the atmosphere using strictly architectural solutions and setting the stage for a modern way of life. They should be valued as early Latin American contributions to an environmental discourse in architecture.
Joaquín Medina Warmburg (Cádiz 1970), trained as an architect at ETSA Sevilla (Spain) and RWTH Aachen (Germany), has taught in several European and Latin American universities since 1997, most recently at Universidad de Navarra and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. From 2011-2015, he was in charge of the Walter Gropius Chair of the German Academic Exchange Service at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires. He has conducted his research activity in the fields of History and Theories of Architecture and Urbanism in the 19th and 20th centuries. His approach focuses on the phenomena of cultural internationalization leading to the contemporary discourse on globalization, including technical and environmental issues related to these exchange processes. He has published extensively on these topics, including the books Projizierte Moderne (Frankfurt 2005) and The Construction of Climate in Modern Architectural Culture, 1920-1980 (with Claudia Shmidt, Madrid 2015).