Too Light, Too Dark

architect Smiljan Radić
written by Patricio Mardones Hiche


In 1998, almost 20 years ago, Radic wrote Fragile fortune. The brief essay outlines a set of topics that have ended defining his architectural work. There, he talks about memory, ruins, vagabonds, travelers, peripheries, dissolution and about his fascination with what he calls fragile constructions: The fragile construction, like the vagabond away from the common path, takes on the colors of the landscape, by amassing what it needs in a state of public calamity. It resolves its shape, its textures, its uncontrolled details, dissolving into a hardened landscape, an appropriated or collected landscape, which still scratches and slowly dissolves it, converting it into a vague remnant. We always falsely believe that these constructions, abandoned out in the open and fragile, are about to disappear. I say falsely, because this disappearance is nothing more than its appearance made into a world, too much a world, like the body of the vagabond made into the city1. By chance or not, after covering one of the courtyards at the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art with a plastic bubble to turn it into an interior hall, Radić modified another old building in the same street, a few blocks away. Located in the heart of the old Yungay District, in the western area of the Santiago historical quarter, it was an abandoned, ruined building that used to be an early 20th century middle-class housing complex.