Perrault & Mangado
In Dialogue
Pamplona, España
Perrault, author of the National Library of France and Madrid’s Caja Mágica, and Mangado, architect of the Spanish Pavilion at Expo Zaragoza 2008, talk at the equestrian center of Ultzama, designed by the latter.

Dominique Perrault: The landscape in Ultzama is truly magnificent…_x005F_x000D_
Pachi Mangado: Yes, that is why it is difficult to raise a building here. I was interested in this estate because it had wonderful qualities. In fact, the most complicated part of the project was the discussion with the architect of the regional government on how to maintain it. He wanted me to build a conventional house identical to those in the valley, made of red brick. It took me months to convince him of the fact that one of the main characteristics of the architectural landscape is density, and how to manage it respectfully.
Architecture is part of the landscape and not something imposed, and color is not what’s important; what’s important is the idea of compactness._x005F_x000D_
DP: Yes, I was imagining some kind of underground architecture. There’s the woods, there’s the river… and we must know how to protect the landscape and live in it. That is why I think one can adapt to the landscape and make the most of its topography. Without touching anything. _x005F_x000D_
PM: There is one incredible thing though: here they give the go-ahead to any urban arrangement with small houses, fragmentation, just because they are white and red. That is stupid because it destroys the landscape. The idea is to preserve density and compactness. This building has stables, tracks, the caretaker’s house… if I had compartmentalized all of them it would have been a disaster. _x005F_x000D_

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©Miguel Galiano

DP: That’s what’s important about large volumes. In a large volume it’s important to share, and that is the key: sharing. It is an ideological and political matter. If you make many small buildings: my small house, my small car…, there’s no sharing. Now, in Paris, we are developing the project to unify the whole region, the Grand Paris. Evidently it will be complicated because there will always be a battle between the richer western areas and the more modest eastern sections of the city. But it is really a good idea. We must invent or find a structure to let twelve million inhabitants coexist. It is a matter of necessity. Everyone used to say “Paris et la banlieu,” and now it is only Paris, or Grand Paris. It is a project that will expose the problems of identity, of exclusion… it is a visionary plan. _x005F_x000D_
PM:: A new Baron Haussmann..._x005F_x000D_
DP: No, we are an army of small Baron Haussmanns. Now we have to see how far these frontiers can stretch, or see if they are necessary at all, because we cannot let the Grand Paris become another closed circuit. In any case, sharing is valid for both city and country. In a large building you go in and out, work, think, rest, cook… That is the concept of multiple function, as in traditional architecture where the grandparents, children and animals were all in one same building. _x005F_x000D_
PM: That’s right, but animals can’t be just anywhere. On our way here we saw lots of horses in the fields. In this area there is a strict relationship between landscape and animals. I can’t imagine the landscape without them. This is why over these six years I have never doubted that this was a space for horses. This landscape is both natural and human. _x005F_x000D_

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©Miguel Galiano

DP: It is an artificial nature. And we must face a completely contemporary problem: should we or should we not build in natural environments? Architecture is a natural construction and one can think that the walls are trees, the sun is the land, the slabs are the sky. _x005F_x000D_
PM: It is a common error to think that architecture is different from landscape, when they are actually the same thing. The regulations on building in the landscape are often mistaken because their point of departure is not right. _x005F_x000D_
DP: The landscape harbors nature and architecture, not nature or architecture. _x005F_x000D_

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©Miguel Galiano
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©Miguel Galiano

PM: The subject of the horses is somewhat similar to that of architecture. We buy the horses when they are two years old and, during eight years they are trained for competition. It is as if you were working on a project: you start out with the idea, you define the project, build it, encounter difficulties… There is a high chance that a project can fail, and the same thing goes for horses. It takes eight years to prepare the movements, the rhythms, the music… you never know if it will be a good investment. Architectural projects, like horses, also become ill. _x005F_x000D_
DP: We are also working on a competition for a racetrack (New Longchamp Racecourse in Paris): the horses are completely different. It is a big project, and we wanted to make the architect’s intervention on the surface disappear. As in this place, our basic goal was to open up to the landscape and bring it into the building, a garden rather than a stadium. It is a very horizontal project, like a shelf where people walk, drink, rest… It has two layers: one professional and one public. The ground level is for animals and, on top, footbridges link the different services. You walk above the horses, but always close to them, which is what’s important really. _x005F_x000D_

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©Miguel Galiano

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