Ricardo Bofill is a world renowned post-modern Spanish architect, best known for introducing a modern building technology and invoking in his designs, the Classical touch of architecture inspired by the magnificence and artistic extravagance of the era of Louis XIV.
Ricardo Bofill was born on December 5, 1939, in Barcelona, Spain, to a Catalan father and a Venetian mother. In 1955, Ricardo attended the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura in Barcelona, and later, in 1957, he enrolled at the Architecture University of Geneva, Switzerland. In 1960, Bofill established the Taller de Arquitectura (Architecture Workshop) in Barcelona. The workshop had a very interdisciplinary and unconventional approach to architecture, it not only employed architects, but a whole range of designers, mathematicians, musicians, poets and a philosopher. As the Taller progressed and rose in success, Bofill rose to the status of a romantic figure who was responsible to inculcating a creative, artistic and intellectual spirit in his team. The main office of his firm was established in Barcelona, while other offices were located in New York and Paris.
In 1978, Bofill published “L’architecture d’un homme”, which stated that the intentions of his firm were to create “dynamic” and “magic” spaces using impressive styles to construct unique designs. Each of Bofill’s design, in addition to being true to his intentions, had a distinctive adaptation to its local environment and circumstances. Bofill and his Taller rejected the claims of the tenets of the International Style, particularly Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe, and asserted that their design are a “brutal protest” against the forces of functionalist modernism.
Bofill began garnering international acclaim during the 1960s, with his designs implemented in the Catalan region of Spain, and later in the Barrio Gaudi located in Rues, Tarragona, a public housing project comprising of apartment grids of various sizes, each with a separate balcony, pantile roofs and a multilevel system of plazas and walkways. Another impressive work by Bofill is presented in his design for the Catalan resort of Xanadu in Calpe, Alicante, which comprises of a seven story block hosting cubical living spaces bordering around a central utility core. Bofill had a continuing desire to add “garden cities in space”, and he inculcated the idea of a garden along with arcades, and Mediterranean windows with shutters into his designs. His firm is also known for its design of Walden 7, Sant Just Desvern, Barcelona.
In the mid-1970s, Bofill was departing from the vernacular architecture of the Mediterranean, he wished to return to the traditional elements of urban planning and his interest in baroque spatial organization also began to grow. Meanwhile, he was concentrating on projects for the French “New Towns”, which surround Paris. In these projects, Bofills incorporated the classical art symbolized in much of the architecture found in France following the Renaissance era, and by constructing concrete structures and prefabricated concrete panels, he made an attempt to portray the Classical Style at a monumental scale.
In 1975, Bofill and his firm presented their remarkable design for Les Arcades du Lac Viaduc, in Saint-Quentin-en-Yveline, the design comprised of a thick concrete building consisting of methodically arranged exterior stretched out along rigid axes, and interlinked with formal gardens. The arrangement of the building and gardens has been inspired by the Palace of Versailles, and is famously known as the “Versailles for the people”. In 1979, with his design for Les Espaces d’Abraxas located in the Marne-la-Vallee suburb of Paris, Bofill has ventured into the elegance of the Classical syntax. The entire structure of the semicircular amphitheatre is a remarkable example of Classicism and traditional architecture, with a giant seven-story interior, attached to columns with shafts formed by panes of glass, and interrupted by a single large opening at the arc, which Boll terms as an “urban window”.
Bofilll’s work has been showcased at several exhibitions, most famous is a joint exhibition with Leon Krier, entitled “Architecture, Urbanism and History”, held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1985. In 1987, Bofill was commissioned to design and build a public housing complex in New Jersey, named the Venice-on-the-Hudson.
He has authored a book, titled “La Ciudad del Arquitecto” (The City’s Architect), that deals with his theoretical work. Ricardo Bofill has been the recipient of several awards and accolades including the ASID Award from the American Society of Interior Design in 1978, and an Award from the International Academy of the Philosophy of Art in 1989 among others.