The internationally renowned Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill died Friday at the age of 82 of complications linked to Covid-19, his family announced on Friday January 14 to Agence France-Presse. In a statement, his studio, the Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura (RBTA), said he died in Barcelona (northeastern Spain) and paid tribute “to the Spanish architect who has had the greatest international career”.
Over the course of his career, Bofill entered the very exclusive club of “star architects”, including Norman Foster, Renzo Piano and Jean Nouvel. Ricardo Bofill has spread his original touch all over the world, obsessed with putting the human being at the center of space. “Architecture is the victory of man over the irrational”, he liked to say, driven by the obsession to create a ” language “ different architecture.
Particularly renowned in France, he notably designed the spaces of Abraxas, in Noisy-le-Grand, in the suburbs of Paris, where several scenes of Brazil, a cult science fiction film by Terry Gilliam (1985), the Antigone district in Montpellier, inspired by ancient Greece, or the Place de la Catalunya, behind the Montparnasse station, in Paris.
A thousand projects around the world
Born on December 5, 1939 in Barcelona (north-eastern Spain) to a Catalan architect father and a Venetian mother, Ricardo Bofill Levi entered the city’s school of architecture in 1957, from where he was expelled for anti-Franco activism, before continuing his studies in Geneva (Switzerland).
Back in his hometown, in a Spain still under the thumb of the dictator Francisco Franco (from 1936 to 1975), he joined other young intellectuals (architects, engineers, writers, filmmakers, sociologists and philosophers) in a group baptized the “Divine Left” and in 1963 created its architectural studio, the Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura.
This workshop, based in an old cement factory on the outskirts of Barcelona, with branches in Paris, Montpellier (France), New York (United States), Tokyo, Chicago (United States) or Beijing, has signed more than 1,000 projects around the world.
Obsessed with the organization of space
But on the ground, degraded and criticized by some residents, the spaces of Abraxas were very close to being demolished. “To tear them down would be a lack of culture”, said Ricardo Bofill in an interview with World in 2014. While acknowledging not having “failed to change the city”. Rewarded by numerous international architectural prizes, Ricardo Bofill was an officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters.
Obsessed with the organization of space, Ricardo Bofill was inspired in particular by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio, of the Renaissance, or even French architects of the XVIIe and XVIIIe centuries François Mansart and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. But also Tuareg villages, where this “nomad” self-proclaimed went looking for ideas early in his career.
“I think I know how to do two things: (…) design cities (…) and try to invent different architectonic languages and never repeat them”, he said in June during a conference in Barcelona. A rejection of repetition that made him love Antonio Gaudí, a Catalan like him, whom he described as “greatest genius in history” Who “never repeated two elements or forms”.