Holiday Cities (on Adrià Goula’s photographs)
Bello Horizonte, Bahia, Alaska, Antibes, Atlantida, Jamaica, Samoa, Alexandria, Flandria, Athos, La Colina, Chamonix, Florida, Santillana, Atlas III, Puerto-Rico, Malvinas, Anafi, Lepanto, Cerdeña, Cibeles, Aragón, Malta, Capri, Ischia, Delfos, Paradis, Cala Dorada, Ilerda, Formentor, Sorolla.
The list above enumerates a relation of names from Adrià Goula’s photographic series. The 30-photograph series is called “Holiday Cities” and Adrià took them in Catalan coastal villages. These housing developments were raised by the end of Franco’s dictatorship, in the late 60’s and 70’s. They were planned to become second residences for the middle-class population living in larger cities such as Barcelona, Tarragona or Lleida, and ultimately for foreigners, who were beginning to be welcomed to Spain during the slow declining of Franco’s regime.
Belleplain, Brooklawn, Colonia, Colonia Manor, Fair Haven, Fair Lawn, Greenfields Village, Green Village, Plainsboro, Pleasant Grove, Pleasent Plains, Sunset Hill Garden, Garden City, Garden City Park, Greenlawn, Island Park, Levitown, Middleville, New City Park, Pine Lawn, Plainview, Plandome Manor, Pleasantside, Pleasantville
The list above enumerates a relation of names in Dan Graham’s work called “Homes for America” (1966-67). These names came from housing developments raised in California after the end of World War II, in 1945. These new towns were designed and built through the so-called “California Method”, based in a high degree of standardization and prefabrication. This method would later spread all over the country.
Sonata, Concerto, Overture, Ballet, Prelude, Serenade, Nocturne, Rhapsody
The list above enumerates the relation of names in one of Dan Graham’s examples illustrating “Homes for America”. Housing developments in the “California Method” contained a limited set number of house models. “Cape Coral”, in Florida, used musical names which seemed to attract clients, as if some kind of elevated culture could be associated to the house, even if one talked about a house in Suburbia.
White, Moonstone Grey, Nickle, Seafoam Green, Bamboo, Coral Pink, Colonial Red
The list above enumerates the relation of colors to be chosen among the eight house models in “Cape Coral”. The combination of eight different colors and eight different house models produced a rich variability in the resulting series. It could be whether a detached house or what was called a “two-home home”, a symmetrically divided-in-two-homes house.
There is a coincident aspect between Adrià’s photographs and “Homes for America” by Dan Graham: buildings were given names that kept no relationship at all with their own geographic context or nor even with their cultural environment. There is no way finding a connection between names and the actual buildings.
Aria, Bally’s, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Casino Royale, Circus Circus, Cosmopolitan, The Cromwell, Encore, Excalibur, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Linq, Lucky Dragon, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Palazzo, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Slots-a-Fun*, SLS, Stratosphere, Treasure Island, Tropicana, Venetian, Wynn
The list above enumerates the relation of casinos in Las Vegas main’s street, The Strip, although there are many others around. Coming out of the blue, the city of Las Vegas created a place in the desert that can be systematically anywhere else. To say it different, Las Vegas is ontologically a simulacrum. Its architecture, as it was categorized by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown in 1968, is whether an icon or a sign. Therefore simulacrum begins in the outer image of buildings. As streets don’t exist anymore in Las Vegas, buildings need to outstand by themselves, and this is how neon lights, XL signs and figurative elements of all kind help understanding the urban coordinates.
Battle of Mons, Battle of the Frontiers, Togoland Campaign, Battle of Cer, Battle of Tannerberg, First Battle of the Marne, Battle of Drina, Siege of Antwerp, Battle of Ypres, Siege of Tsingtao, Battle of Kilimanjaro, Battle of Tanga, Battle of Kolubara, Battle of Limanowa, Battle of the Falklands Islands, First Battle of Champagne.
The list above enumerates battles from World War I taking place only during the year 1914. Robert Gerwarth has recently explained the close relationship between WW1 and WW2. According to Gerwarth, the Central Powers –that is the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria- felt humiliated by the different armistices and capitulations. In consequence and instead of admitting their own mistakes or miscalculations, they blamed Internationalism and Jewish people for their defeat. This thirst of revenge prepared what was to come in the even more devastating WW2.
Gerwarth also writes about an in-between war period as a non peaceful period at all, when historical empires disintegrated themselves into tinier and many times belligerent countries. Altogether, one can speak of a thirty year war in Europe taking place from 1914 to 1945. According to Gerwarth, most the current European conflicts find its origin in what disappeared in between those two wars, and that is the common acceptance or, at least, tolerance of ethnical and religious differences that existed in the old empires integrating the Central Powers.
Dangerously, the conclusion that people like Hitler highlighted from WW1 was that countries needed to become ethnically homogeneous, as therefore traitors or deserters could be eliminated as a war disadvantage from the very beginning. Hitler wished to create a new Reich that would never surrender, a country that would prefer death to capitulation. And this wish excluded the Jewish people and Bolsheviks, who were, in Hitler’s mind, closely related in their disaffection for all kind of national pride.
In his book, Gerwarth reviews a never ending series of battles. Frontier lines moved on the map during the war whereas towns and villages changed from one military control to another in a simple matter of hours. Anytime armies retreated, soldiers used the “burnt land” policy, which left nothing but devastation to conquerors. And it was most of the times civilian people who suffered this back and forth struggle all over the European map.
It is difficult to imagine how a family could have forgotten the place where they met destruction or amputation. And even more, how to forget places where they were born and had a home; places where they had been refugees or exiled people; places where they had been fractured or torn apart as a family; places where their beloved beings found death. How would anyone forget the toponymy of cities, villages, battlefields or mountain ranges that crucially defined their lives?
Right after the end of WW2, some new towns and suburbs were being founded in California. As explained a few lines above, standardization and prefabrication heavily occupied the work and the mind of many architects and designers at the time. Charles and Ray Eames, for example, achieved excellent results in their research of a democratic, standardized and prefabricated design.
But many other city planners, architects and investors just favored different qualities for these new towns. And this is when toponymy comes up again in a different manner. Toponymy stopped constructing the war memory and begun the mass projection of a lifestyle back grounded by Hollywood and that would ultimately conquer the entire world. These new places of seduction needed names that did not recall war anymore, but just a beautiful place where to live.
Adrià Goula’s photographs insist in this problematic place that is brought up by postmodernist times, where traditional representation has claudicated, where models have stopped being real but rooted in the media. Like this, representation comes right from another representation as well as copies come from other copies. The real, the original, the unique, the aura… all of them have almost disappeared from our lives that are now contented through the consumption of beautiful simulacra. Adrià’s buildings have lost their connection to their own site, as well as they never had any kind of relationship with their toponymy, maybe apart from a slightly evocated simulacrum: Bello Horizonte, Bahia, Alaska, Antibes…
Enric Llorach (text)
Enric Llorach is architect and writer. In 2017, Enric Llorach has published the book “En el filo de la navaja. Arte, arquitectura y anacronismo”.
 Robert Gerwarth, The Vanquished. Why the First World War Failed to End, 1917-1923, Penguin, Londres, 2017.