Rafael Moneo: Life Story
Rafael Moneo is one of the most coveted architects to come out of Spain in recent years. Born in Tudela, Navarra in 1937, today Moneo is considered amongst the top players on the international architecture scene.
At a young age Rafael Moneo headed to Madrid to study at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura. During his time there he complemented his studies by working for Madrid based arquitect, Francisco Sáenz de Oiza. Aged 24 and fresh out of Architecture school he went to Denmark to work alongside Jórn Utlon, famous designer of the Sydney Opera House.
In 1963 Rafael Moneo was offered a scholarship to the Spanish Academy in Rome where he studied between 1963 and 1965. After this he set up a base in Madrid and began to carve a name for himself in the contemporary art world, both as an architect and as a scholar.
Moneo spent the next 5 years working in Madrid and lecturing at city's Escuela de Arquitectura, before heading off to Barcelona where he set up shop between 1970 and 1980. By the time he headed back to Madrid in 1980 (where he continued to teach and design) Rafael Moneo had gained international acclaim for his modern designs, had been invited to lecture in top universities throughout Europe and the US and had truly left his mark on the 1980's. In 1985 he was made the Dean of the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, amongst many other international awards.
Rafael Moneo: Architectural Influences
Having always mixed his love of design with scholarly research and teaching, there is something measured and mathmatical about the works of Rafael Moneo. His buildings often feature clean, straight lines which run in grid-like or parallel formations, as though his academic mind filters into his creative one to produce buildings with a powerful graphic basis.
Moneo's time in Denmark between 1961 and 1962 seems to have made an impact on his future style. By fusing the contemporary trends of the 70's and 80's with traditional nordic style and materials, Rafael Moneo has created his own unique design concepts. A good example of this is the wooden blocks used on his modern cathedral, La Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles in LA (1996-2002).
By believing wholeheartedly in the importance of buildings enduring the test of time, as opposed to being produced, reproduced and destroyed, Rafael Moneo works to the philosophy of creating something for future generations to admire, that won't go in and out of fashion. The recent unveiling of his extension for Madrid's Prado Museum is a good example of this. By careful consideration of the fact that as an art gallery, the building itself should not distract from its interior, Moneo used simple lines in his contemporary extension to subtly bring one of the city's oldest buildings into the 21st century and evoke a timeless quality.