The Interntaional Conference for Contemporary Architecture in Historic Cities, which took place on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of September, focused its attention on three areas during its three day run: contemporary architecture in urban landscapes, methods of evaluating impact and methods of action. At the end of each day, a round table of academics and experts in architecture and urbanism formed to debate the influence of modern architecture on historic landscapes, among other topics of interest. It is worth noting that included among the various speakers present at this event are the President of the International Council of Historical Sites and Monuments (Icomos); Gustavo F. Araoz, Karim Hendili of the UNESCO World Heritage Center; uribanist and honorary member of Icomos, Álvaro Gómez-Ferrer; architect and urbanist, Juan Michel Wilmotte; director of the Andalusian Institute of Historical Heritage (IAPH), Román Fernandéz-Baca; director of the Office of Monuments and Archeology, Esther Agricola; and O Sun Yan of the University of Tshingua in Pekin, among others.
715 people were in attendance; among them, representatives, technicians, and members of local and state governments, university professors and students, professionals in the areas of architecture, history, and archeology. The event hosted guests from places as diverse as Portugal, Comoros, Uzbekistan, United States, Qatar, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Puerto Rico, Guinea, and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
Among the international attendees present were ministers from the governments of Croatia, Colombia, and Russia, to name a few, as well as members of the parliament of the Ivory Coast and representatives of several UNESCO delegations.
Though the primary focus was on the conferences held at the General Captaincy, the congress coincided with a variety of activities throughout the city which helped to round out the convention.
On the 17th of September, the welcoming and aperture exercises included messages from the following: Juan Ignacio Zoido, Mayor of Seville; José Ignacio Medina Cebrián, Deputy General chief of Ground Forces; Karim Hendili, UNESCO member; Juan José Asenjo, archbishop of Seville; Jesús Prieto de Pedro, General Director of Fine Arts and Cultural Goods, Archives, and Libraries; Álvaro Gómez-Ferrer, Honorary President of the European Council for Urbanism; Maximiliano Vílchez, urbanism delegate of the local town hall of Seville; and José María Lassalle Ruiz, secretary of Culture, ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport.
That same evening, the Town Hall of Seville organized a reception at the Royal Alcazar of Seville. Also present at this event was Francisco Javier Landa Bercebal, a delegate from the Royal Alcazar board of trustees and Town Hall. Throughout the official reception, guests were able to enjoy an afterhours visit to the building which culminated with cocktails served in the Gothic Salon.
On the 18th, the event’s activities centered on another monument of global heritage: the Archive of the Indies. Manuel Ravina, director of the General Archive of the Indies, guided the attendees through the exhibition. The third monument of cultural heritage, the Cathedral of Seville, captured the UNESCO delegation´s attention. Alfonso Jiménez Martín, Maestro Mayor of works of the Cathedral of Seville, was charged with welcoming the guests at the door of Saint Christopher.
The headquarters of the General Captaincy of Ground Forces was chosen as the setting for the conference. The General Captaincy forms part of the Plaza de España and served to help bring the experts who participated in this international congress as well as the UNESCO and Icomos representatives themselves closer to accepting the proposal that the Plaza be included along with the featured monuments of cultural heritage.
The Captaincy, like the Plaza, was designed by architect Aníbal González in 1914 and inaugurated in 1928 while looking ahead to the Grand Ibero-American Exposition.
Its interior guards the best preserved sections of the Palacio España and holds a forest of columns which leave a large portion of the building suspended over crypts and steals away any attention garnered by its grand façade. Filtering a renaissance inspiration through a regionalist style, the decoration of the building consists of primarily ceramic and sculpted brick.
As for the architect, Aníbal González symbolizes the urban shift experienced in Seville at the time of the Ibero-American Exposition.