First-ever U.S. Exhibition of Spanish Biennial of Architecture

Alternativas / Alternatives features 22 recent works of Spanish architecture 

The Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism (BEAU) is being shown in the United States for the first time for an exhibition at The Cooper Union, before traveling to France, Germany, Japan and Sweden. The XIII BEAU, entitled Alternativas / Alternatives, is on view from October 27 through December 3, 2016 and features 22 jury selected projects completed between January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015 by contemporary Spanish architects. The exhibition, which also includes an additional 20 shortlisted works, features large-scale image displays and audiovisual commentary about the winning projects, as well as drawing reproductions and architectural models.

Caminito del Rey_Luis Machuca Santa-Cruz_photo Juan María Álvarez Espada

Many of the works presented, under the categories of Heritage, Planning and Innovation, employ sustainable practices and rely on local materials. The projects – which vary from small-scale works, such as residential homes, to mid-size interventions, such as schools and public parks – showcase the ability of Spain’s architects to formulate innovative solutions with both a limited budget and modest resources.

“The economic crisis was a critical time for our country’s architecture and we saw a halt in new construction but enormous growth for restoration work,” says Francisco Mangado, Spain’s General Coordinator of Biennals, who oversaw the curation of Alternativas / Alternatives and is a practicing architect. “Our goal of bringing the Biennial to The Cooper Union and eventually these other countries is to make Spanish architecture – with its humble yet sensitive forms and ingenious design – open to the world.”

Casa Andamio_Bosch Capdeferro Arq_foto José Hevia

Casa Andamio_Bosch Capdeferro Arq_foto José HeviaThe XIII BEAU’s selection showcases a breadth of talent from across Spain, not just its biggest cities. It also highlights some of the country’s practices on the rise. In addition to projects by studios such as Arquitectura-G and H Arquitectes, much of the work included in Alternativas / Alternatives represents Spain’s up-and-coming architects and studios such as Abalo Alonso Arquitectos, Victor López Cotelo, Olalquiaga Arquitectos and more. A complete list can be found here.

“The current generation of Spanish architects is full of optimism for the discipline and although recent austerity and frugality has affected the work, every project has become an opportunity for creative architecture,” says Begoña Díaz-Urgorri, BEAU Co-Director.

In addition, Juan Domingo Santos and Carmen Moreno Alvarez, architects and also Co-Directors of the XIII BEAU, say “we highlight the presence of a young generation of architects who stand out with interesting proposals, for which the crisis is not a problem but an incentive and encouragement to provide qualified responses that improve our places of life.”

And that creativity is being noticed internationally. Recently the Spanish Pavilion won the Golden Lion Prize at the 2016 Venice Biennale, the highest honor given at the Biennale. Seventy percent of that award-winning exhibition will be on view as part of Alternativas / Alternatives at The Cooper Union.

Casa Chao_CreuseCarrasco_Photo: Hector Santos Diez

“Contemporary Spanish architecture’s significance cannot be ignored, and this exhibition brings together several critical qualities of its discipline that converge on the Iberian Peninsula,” says Nader Tehrani, Dean of Cooper’s The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. “Coming from a pedagogical context that is much more restrained than that of the United States and an economy that has yet to recover, it is important for American audiences to have an opportunity to see the work of this next generation since it demonstrates how great inventiveness emerges from a sense of scarcity and significant constraints, but in combination with a disciplined and ambitious imagination.”

The XIII BEAU originally opened in July 2016 at the Palace of Charles V of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain before traveling to New York City. The exhibition was curated by BEAU Co-Directors and jury members Begoña Díaz-Urgorri, Juan Domingo Santos and Carmen Moreno Álvarez, and overseen by Francisco Mangado, Spain’s General Coordinator of Biennales. This exhibition is presented in association with Archtober, Architecture and Design Month New York City, October, 2016.

163 VPO en Vallecas_Olalquiaga Arquitectos_foto Miguel de Guzmán-Imagen subliminal


WHAT:                EXHIBITION

Alternativas / Alternatives


In conjunction with this exhibition, please join our distinguished scholars in a lively conversation about Spanish architecture.

Presented by The Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.


WHEN:             Opening Reception

Thursday, October 27 at 6:30pm

Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery

Ongoing Exhibition

October 27 – December 3, 2016

Tuesday – Friday 2pm-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm-7pm


Panel Discussion

Saturday, November 12, 2016 from 10am–5pm


WHERE:           Exhibition:

The Cooper Union, Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, 2nd Floor

7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

New York, NY 10003

Panel Discussion:

The Cooper Union, 3rd Floor Lobby

7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

New York, NY 10003


COST:               Free and open to the public

Casa de los vientos_José Luis Muñoz Arq._Foto Javier Callejas

The XIII Spanish Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism is promoted by the Government of Spain through the Directorate -General of Architecture, Housing and Land of the Ministry of Development in collaboration with the Superior Council of Colleges of Architects of Spain (CSCAE) and with the support of the Arquia Foundation.


Francisco Mangado. The General Coordinator of Spain Biennials

Architect and Studio Professor in the Navarre school’s Master of Architectural Design program. In June 2008 he set up the Fundación Arquitectura y Sociedad, which aims to help increase architecture’s interaction with other fields of knowledge and action. His architectural practice is combined with this academic activity and foundation work, which he runs from his studio in Pamplona. For his professional work Mangado has earned an Andrea Palladio International Architecture Award, a City of Thiene Architecture Award, an Architécti Prize, CEOE Awards, the FAD Prize for Urban Planning, Architecture and Public Works awarded by the City of Madrid and many more.

He has been named RIBA International Fellowship, awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and AIA Honorary Fellowship, awarded by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Thanks to this professional work he has received, among others, the Andrea Palladio  Prize of Architecture, the Thiene Architecture, the Architécti Prize, the Prize of Spanish Architecture awarded by the Spain’s National Council of Architects’ Associations, the Copper in Architecture Award of the European Copper Institute in London and the RIBA EU Prize awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Begoña Díaz-Urgorri. Co-Director XIII BEAU

Begoña Díaz-Urgorri Emparanza received her B Arch from the Madrid Technical University School of Architecture, ETSAM and a MArch from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, SCI-Arch, in Los Angeles, California. She and Leon Benacerraf set up their architectural practice in 1994, and since then they have received numerous international and national awards, among them “XXII Madrid City Council Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering Award (2007)”, New Housing development; the 2008 Asprima-Sima award for the best New Housing development; the AIA California Council Honor Award.

Juan Domingo Santos. Co-Director XIII BEAU

Projects lecturer at the Granada School of Architecture; he has been a visiting professor at the Technische Universität München and invited at several national and international universities.

His work has been displayed at important exhibitions including the ON-SITE exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA); 7th and 15th Biennale di Architettura di Venice, and the Spanish Architecture Biennale (1993-1994, 2010-2011), amongst others.

Carmen Moreno Álvarez. Co-Director XIII BEAU

Architect at ETSA of Granada where she teaches the Project program since 2007. Guest Professor at Oporto, Munich, Lisbon, Catania, Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona (UIC) among others. She has been awarded with COAG 2005/2005 Residential Architecture Prize (with Alvaro Siza), Spanish Architecture Awards finalist at FAD Finalist 2007, the Honor Mention at LAMP Awards 2015 and the Gold Award at Emporia Awards 2016.

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