small things: Josep Muñoz i Pérez

Josep Muñoz i Pérez. New Door, Foment de les Arts i del Disseny, Barcelona.This is one of the projects that has been sent to us for On Site 23: small things.  It is a door on the Plaça dels Ángels, dominated by the chapel entrance to the Convent dels Ángels in Barcelona.  Muñoz' project was to push the entrance to the FAD into view. 

That's it.  The whole project, which won several awards, is a door.  It wasn't just one part of a larger project, the FAD existed, and needed a presence on the Carrer dels Ángels.  Can an architectural commission be smaller?   Barcelona is stacked with young architects, and has been so since the mid 1980s.  As a result, every detail, every litter bin, every bollard, door handle, window frame, sign, news kiosk, bench and handrail has been designed by an architect.  And these architects treat every project, no matter how small, as the making of their reputation and the development of their architectural voice. 

I weep at the really horrible nature of the utilitarian objects in the public domain in our cities, and how institutions that should know better: art galleries, publishers, design schools, libraries either camp in some other building and accept the generic details of their host, or treat their entrances as just a way to get into the building.  That sense that the contents of the building can spill outward into the public realm is missing.  Doors here shut the outside out and the inside in. 

Is an appreciation of small urban moves, marginal architectural interventions, possible here?  We can all think of how things could be better, but what does it actually take in terms of approaching city parks departments, or transportation departments (the heart quails) with self-generated projects in hand?  Because if we wait for them to make a move, we will be old and grey before it happens.