ALTERNATIVES: Exhibition of Spanish Biennial of Architecture / The Cooper Union

104 House – Barcelona, Spain, HARQUITECTES. Photograph © Adrià Goula

The Cooper Union Exhibition description

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.

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,” 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.

– Francisco Mangado

Featured Spanish Architecture Works

ALTERNATIVES: Exhibition of Spanish Biennial of Architecture / The Cooper Union

Andamio House – Casa Andamio Girona, Spain bosch.capdeferro arquitectures. Photograph © José Hevia

ALTERNATIVES: Exhibition of Spanish Biennial of Architecture / The Cooper Union

Recovery of ͞Caminito Del Rey -Málaga, Spain Luis Machuca Santa-Cruz

ALTERNATIVES: Exhibition of Spanish Biennial of Architecture / The Cooper Union

School of Architecture in Granada – Granada, Spain Víctor López Cotelo Photograph © Lluís Casals

ALTERNATIVES: Exhibition of Spanish Biennial of Architecture / The Cooper Union

Wind House – Cádiz, Spain José Luis Muñoz Muñoz. Photograph © Javier Callejas

ALTERNATIVES: Exhibition of Spanish Biennial of Architecture / The Cooper Union

Factory of Electric Assembly –  Don Benito, Spain José María Sánchez García Photograph © Roland Halbe

The 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 are 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.

–  Begoña Díaz-Urgorri, BEAU Co-Director.

And that creativity is being noticed internationally. Recently the Spanish Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale won the Golden Lion Prize, 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.

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. 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.

– Nader Tehrani, Dean of Cooper’s The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture.

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.

Exhibition details 


In conjunction with the exhibition, there will be a lively conversation with scholars about Spanish architecture in early 2017.

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

WHEN:  October 27 – December 3, 2016

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

Closed November 24 and 25, 2016


The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is a distinguished private college of art, architecture, and engineering founded in 1859 by inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist Peter Cooper. From its beginnings, Cooper has been dedicated to the idea that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but also to civic virtue and harmony. Today, the school continues that tradition through a curriculum that focuses on helping graduates acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice. The institution provides close contact with a distinguished, creative faculty. It fosters rigorous, humanistic learning that is enhanced by the process of design and augmented by its urban setting in New York’s East Village.