Fire and Memory
On Architecture and Energy
240 pp., 5 x 8 in,
- Published: December 22, 2000
Architecture and fire, construction and combustion, meet in this poetic treatise on energy in building.
In Fire and Memory, Luis Fernández-Galiano reconstructs the movement from cold to warm architecture, from building fire to building a building with and for fire, through what he calls a "metaphorical plundering" of disciplines as diverse as anthropology and economics, and in particular of ecology and thermodynamics. Beginning with the mythical fire in the origins of architecture and moving to its symbolic representation in the twentieth century, Galiano develops a theoretical dialogue between combustion and construction that ranges from Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, from the mechanical and organic to time and entropy. Galiano points out that energy, so important to the origin of architectural theory in Vitruvius's time, has been absent from architectural theory since the introduction of the "dictatorship of the eye" over that of the skin. With Fire and Memory, he reintroduces energy to the discussion of architecture and reminds us that the sense of touch is as necessary to an understanding of the environment as the sense of sight.
Luis Fernandez-Galiano has composed an open work that spins history, philosophy, technology, economy, and architecture in interpenetrating orbits around the theme of energy in the discourse of architecture. Architecture as the most consistent consumer of energy is treated as both a symbol of humanity's struggle with nature and the practical object of the daily processes on entropy.
Design Book Review
Fire and Memory reveals the richness of Fernandez-Galiano's thinking and the breadth of his learning. Using a lively, controversial style, he discusses the relation of architecture to the development of scientific ideas, particularly as they concern energy, from the eighteenth century until the end of the twentieth. The continued relevance of this book over twenty years confers the status of a classic on it.
Joseph Rykwert, Paul Philippe Cret Professor of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania
Luis Fernandez-Galiano is one of the most knowledgeable and active critics of architecture in europe today. The English translation of his El fuego y la memoria brings to an international audience a book whose modest elngth belies the richness and diversity of its materials. Ostensibly a book dedicated to energy and architecture, it plunges deeply into the whole conflict between traditional notions of architecture as a manifestation of stability and duration and the internal metabolism of the dwelling in its microcosmic relation to that of society at large. The author's insights into the intricacies of industrial organization and the tribulations of doemstic life literally flash from his pages, exhiliarating the reader with the cosmic memories that lie dormant in the mechanical workings of the modern house. Readers from vastly different backgrounds will enjoy their encounter with Fernandez-Galiano's Fire and Memory, for to pore over its contents is akin to taking a vigorous stroll down the avenue that leads from ancient to modern life.
Kurt Forster, Director, Canadian Centre for Architecture