"MAN OF MAIZE"
THE FÉLIX CANDELA AWARD
The Félix Candela Award is an international competition for Spanish-language architectural ideas, conducted in two phases. It is organized annually by the INSTITUTO ESPAÑOL DE ARQUITECTURA (IESARQ) and is aimed at all architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism and design students, as well as young architects, landscape architects, urbanists and designers, individually or in teams of two or three members.
This edition of the Félix Candela Award celebrates the first five years of this initiative that defines itself as a motor for the education of architects who are driven to transform their immediate surroundings. Through our combined efforts, we make changes in architecture and in thought that will have an effect on our environment and, therefore, on our lives. More than in any other year, the fifth edition of the Félix Candela Award aims to be a celebration of the need to reconvert education into a habitat that nourishes people’s minds and spirits to create a better world.
Is it possible to think of a form of society that isn’t urban? Is it possible, furthermore, to think of this society as autonomous, radically different from that of the city? With an economic structure, social order, forms and appearance of its own? Is it possible to think of the countryside as the place of this society?
Man of Maize. American man is that man made from maize, who has, since time immemorial, domesticated this plant and become one with it, his calendar and his life itself revolving around it. The agricultural exploitation of maize further requires the cultivation of other, parallel crops in order for the soil to hold onto its nutrients. Like an individual in a society, maize cannot grow on its own. Originating in America and deeply identified with the continent, it soon spread around the world so successfully that only five American countries are among the fifteen biggest producers at the global level.
Truth went to countryside. Any city, even of the most recent invention, despite its apparently innovative structures, in some inherent way prevents us from imagining a society other than that built through urban power structures. That which is not the city, however, is fifty times greater than the surface of all the planet’s cities put together. The countryside, as the expression of nature, as imagination more than reality, is always inscrutably the same yet always different, and it truly is always different. Given the global health crisis and the restrictions on coexistence then imposed, many digital natives emigrated to the countryside, opening the door to new spaces of connection and learning, the seed of a new social order. The countryside is its own higher order and the question comes back to us—as an echo in the deepest valley, the silence of the desert or the multitude of connected sounds in the densest forest—as a conclusive answer: I am truth. And as Cervantes wrote, “where there is truth, one finds God.” So we must go back to the origin.
A field school. We must return to the countryside, go back to the land, think about the countryside from the countryside, obliging us to center ourselves as Men of Maize and thinking of it as a possibility, as the point of origin for a better, not necessarily urban society through education, the education of the man who returns to the countryside.