The Aura of Biographies in Garoza

architect Juan Herreros
project Garoza House 10.1, Ávila, Spain
written by Carlos Garcia Gonzáles

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Human beings have two biographies at their disposal and they are opposites. The public and the imagined. The first we mistakenly consider as the only real life. The second creates our intimate biography, that of our desires, dreams, it is our secret and unnoticeable life that is no less real than the first. This life of fantasy has an impressive feature: it makes a subject all-powerful in that reality. Owing to the life of fantasy, we can bear that other life for which we retain the mark of real. Fantasy is prosthesis to a subject.[1]


This point that separates our biographies is in my opinion the key for the beginning of the lines that follow about how the Garoza House inhabits that other reality and merely superficially touches the edges of the first. Without the existence of the real biography it is not possible to understand the biography written in the Garoza House because a second home can be a relaxed counterpoint to exhausting life in the city. Yet it is also another variable in the equation that defines the vital system of what we call ‘urban culture’ which is somewhat richer and a matter of imagination. Contact with nature would be, in this system, a conscious materialization of a desire which does not function as the negative of the city, but as an enrichment of its inhabitants’ experience. The Garoza House is the materialized thought of someone who one day had a dream of expanding the boundaries of his habitation on the other side of the city; a contemporary subject who requires an expandable form of life, who wants adjustable terrain with architecture outlined by his imagination.


Nonetheless, the Garoza House touches the edges of the real biography because it is at the same time an industrialized dwelling that is conceived as an expandable prototype. The first phase of this process solves this first stage by offering a surprising and not at all conventional form that is not liable to any typological classification. Around a large double-height space, functions of living, cooking and dining areas are defined. Corners, elevations and in-between spaces offer places for sleeping, working, tidying up and dressing up. In the exterior, the out-of-proportion terrace creates an observation platform and at the same time, a fragment of artificial landscape.


Like a slow development of thoughts, parts of the house appeared in the atelier on the basis of three-metre-wide modules, dictated by the dimension of lorries, necessary in the building process. With the certainty of an experienced orator who knows that a speech begins with the first word, the Garoza House began its existence at the moment when it exited into the exterior, was transferred and installed at its destination in the course of one day, without distorting nature, leaving it intact in a delicate dialogue between landscape and the most demanding technology.


The metal surfaces of the panelling catch the lead-like colours of the winter sky above Garoza and together with the shape and arrangement of recesses they show integration into the landscape, more with contrast than with mimicry. The house does not camouflage itself but reacts, obtaining what Walter Benjamin calls aura: ‘Things have an aura when they are able to return a glance to the one who watches. To see the aura means to see the process, to see fluctuation, the apparition of doing with which an object is fitted.’[2]


Without any doubt, the Garoza House returns your glance when you find yourself on the rocky ground in front of it. It penetrates straight to the deepest part of the eye, transferring to you its own process, its coming into being with which its shape, the image of its dance with nature, and shades of the sky caught on its skins are provocatively expressed.

[1] From Carlos Castilla del Pino: introductory speech at The Royal Spanish Academy, 7 March 2004.

[2] From Walter Benjamin: ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and Other Writings on Media’