Day 35 :: Javier Corvalan

Javier Corvalan’s Casa Suruby and his House + Studio.

Last night Lolia, a young architect here and daughter of two prominent South American/French artists, picked me up from my hotel and took me for a drive around Asuncion to show me where the various (and limited) projects are in the city. Afterwards we went to an empanada joint off of the main scity square that felt more like an old fashioned American diner, where everyone sits on stools facing the center of the room where young Paraguayan waitresses zipped around. When I returned to my hotel had a few messages from Javier Corvalan for which I called back and arranged for our meeting today.

9:00AM rolled around and I was enjoying my usual fix of a bitter cup of coffee and a cigarette when Corvalan marched his way in, introduced himself and took me off to see his many projects in, around, and outside of the city. Our first stop, Casa Suruby – a project that has received critical acclaim from the South American sphere, and a fantastically contemporary piece of work. Built on his interest in Corbusian formalism and a growing interest in structural sophistication, the house seems to defy the logics of gravity. At its core, it acts more like a self-reflexive diagram of Villa Savoye. He walked the property with me and explained the back story of his education, his work, and his larger ambitions. For him, architecture as a cultural construct is less interesting than it’s universality as a technical and totally objective form of art.

We then went to his studio and home which was very reminiscent of Frank Gehry’s home in Santa Monica; built on as an extension to an old carpenter’s workshop, his house has become a place for experimentation in tectonics. In between piles of books, physical models and Mac Book Pros laid pieces of highly intricate – and totally commonplace – details for walls, windows, doors, railings, etc that he personally develops for every project. He invited me to sit in on final reviews at the University, for which I declined unfortunately due to other plans.

I eventually returned to the hotel and waiting for me was another message, this time from Solano Benitez – the first recipient of the highly regarded BSI Swiss Architectural Award. The tale of my completely fascinating and very inspiring night with this elusive and fiercely interesting architect must wait until tomorrow.

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