Masterpieces to be such, especially in architecture, need time; with time, architectures become masterpieces. A masterpiece “survives” over time. It is usually the critics who determine whether an architecture, or a work of art, is a masterpiece or not: hence their power. Through the “discovery” of masterpieces, they define the mobile boundaries of the discipline. Postmodernity’s dominant paradigm is crisis: it thrives on crisis, and the most interesting works capitalize on the crisis as best they can, but these works are not necessarily masterpieces. It is very difficult to produce masterpieces in times of crisis: masterpieces usually arise in periods of stability, or if nothing else, in periods of stability there is a greater consensus on what a masterpiece is. I can think of two devices that can help understand what a masterpiece is. The first is based on the rule, but defining rules is increasingly difficult now. The second, the one that is most valid today, I would call “principle”. This is a term that must be understood broadly, and that must be referred to the city: masterpieces absolutely have to set the city as their goal, and from this they must derive principles, even breaking principles, but still principles. What has been said means that urban masterpieces, that is, masterpieces founded on principles, must necessarily present themselves as collective and contextual architectures, thus relying on a language necessarily founded on a certain degree of anonymity. It is thus principles what structures masterpieces, making them such. But the masterpieces of the future are in danger of not coming to light because of what Marx called the “division of labour”, a character this typical of advanced capitalism that produces alienation: the alienation of a world without architecture.
Francisco Mangado earned his architecture degree from the University of Navarre School of Architecture in 1982, and has since made this institution the center of a teaching career that has seen him serve as Guest Professor in several institutions around the world. In June 2008 he set up the Architecture and Society Foundation, which aims to help increase architecture’s interaction with other fields of creation, thought, and action. n July 2015 Spain’s Governing Council for Biennials appoints Francisco Mangado General Coordinator of Spanish Biennials. Under his coordination, the Spain Pavilion in Venice was awarded the Golden Lion of the Bienal in May 2016. Combined with his academic activity and dedication to the programs of the Foundation is an architectural practice that he runs from his studio in Pamplona and Madrid.