School of Architecture Lecture Series: Anton Garcia-Abril

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The work of Madrid born architect Antón García-Abril is a series of built research projects in which he uses exposed structures to explore the essence of materials and to create space. He trained at the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Madrid and is full-professor at the School of Architecture and Planning of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2000 he established ENSAMBLE STUDIO, leading a team in search of architectural applications for conceptual and structural experimentation.

The Music Studies Centre and the SGAE Central Office in Santiago de Compostela, completed in 2004 and set in a masterplan by Arata Isosaki, sets out three walls which confront one another: a monolithic stone wall of irregular ashlars of variable geometry and size which allow light to break into the building; a translucent glass wall facing the street; and an interior wall made up of CDs.

García-Abril describes his project, the Truffle, as ‘a piece of nature built with earth, full of air. A space within a stone that sits on the ground and blends with the territory.’ The project involved digging a hole and using the soil to form a dyke around it. This they filled with hay bales and poured concrete over it, topping it with the soil. Once hardened, the resulting shape was exhumed and sliced open, exposing the hay, which a cow spent a year eating, leaving the hardened shell to make a  comfortable if quirky holiday home.

His latest project, the Cervantes Theatre in Mexico City completed in 2001, is buried underground, marked only by a large metallic structure above ground. The excavated spaces are expressed as a sequence of theatre lobbies at different levels open to the sky and protected by the symbolic metal structure.

In 2009, García-Abril founded the Positive City Foundation to research ‘the urban phenomenon’. He has taught at MIT, Harvard, Cornell and Chicago; as well as Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Weimar, Madrid and the AA.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Lisa Herrmann
  • Created:09/19/2013
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:04/13/2017


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