Águas Livres

Espacio Líquido Gallery, Gijón, Asturias. Spain 2014

Juan Baraja explores large spans of time in researching his series. In 1919, when Le Corbusier began to think about the ‘machine for living in’ with Amadée Ozenfant in the pages of L’Esprit nouveau, Nuno Teotònio Pereira and Bartolomeu Costa Cabral had not been born. The pilotis, the open floor plan, the free design of the façade, the horizontal strip windows and the roof garden would all come later and with them the Villa Le Lac, the Villa Saboye and the Unité d’habitation, a residential typology of the modern movement developed by Le Corbusier, in collaboration with the Portuguese painter and architect Nadir Afonso, to manifest the potent thrust of concrete, steel and glass towards an architecture.

With these background references, together with the meticulous work of craftsmen, designers and artists, the Águas Livres apartment block appeared in the nineteen fifties, designed by Nuno Teotònio Pereira and Bartolomeu Costa Cabral on the Atlantic coast of Portugal.

It was in Lisbon, in 2014, that Juan Baraja once again found the time to make a detailed subjective study with the camera not only of light, line and colour – as he has done in other projects: Hippodrome, Sert-Miró or Cerezales – but also of the way these spaces are inhabited by their current occupants. A photographic series attentive to subtle passages, almost forgotten in some cases, which also speak to us of what is hidden. A search with the eye, connoted by the constant presence of the modern architectural language, as a way of intuiting some of the essential features of the people who live in the houses.

Alfredo Puente