Tuesday, 21 May 2013


outside of Henry Klumb's House in the outskirts of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Jorge Gonzalez introducing his project at Henry Klumb's house, where he learned the gardening techniques from Klumb's gardener Mr. Agustín Pérez, and dedicated himself to learn and take care of the gardens at the house.

walking through the garden to the house

outside Henry Klumb's house

'Plano Reflectivo' (Reflective Plane), Jorge Gonzalez; intervention at Henry Klumb's house, a wooden structure to support glass panels which reflect the ruined house, the vegetation surrounding it, and the visitors to the house

tropical rain falling outside the house

see previous visit to Henry Klumb's house organized by Pablo Leon de la Barra and Beta Local on December 2011 here, and Beta Local's visit to Klumb's Foreman House in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico here.

and a visit to Jorge Gonzalez studio in San Juan, Puerto Rico

a 1:1 model of the wooden structure he installed at Klumb's house

traditional Plant Dryer, method for drying plants specimens in expeditions

Jorge Gonzalez studio, bookshelf and table legs done following Enzo Mari's DIY Autoprogettazione instructions. Herbarium Cabinet after G.T. Rietveld's cabinet for Doctor Hartog. 

and a Manual of Tropical Hervaria

Understory, a project at Henry Klumb's House in Puerto Rico
by Jorge González

This project emphasizes on the commitment amongst individuals through the acknowledgement of a craft. As part of a fellowship with Beta Local, an organization that is committed and involved in aesthetical practices, a proposal was initiated to promote a relationship founded on its didactical platforms. This principle corresponded with the initiative of Pablo Leon de la Barra of making possible an adjunct excursion to the house of Henry Klumb. When this visit was published, it dispensed exposure to a historical recollection, allowing an actual reference to the place. This led to a fieldwork that introduced me to its caretaker and gardener, Mr. Agustín Pérez.

Henry Klumb was a German-born architect that established in Puerto Rico as a leading professional. He provided a modernist language that encouraged an architectural practice that was motivated by ethical principals, which correspond to popular traditions in consonance with the nature of a place. This investigation takes close attention to the Klumb House located in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, a modified hacienda-house that provides an understanding of the ideological principles of his design, where nature gives a leading role to all its spatial sequences. My interest stems from the palpable care of the gardens of this designated Historic Site, which holds its edifice in an advanced state of deterioration.

Since 1976 the estate of Casa Klumb, which comprises various acres, has been attended by Pérez. He also worked closely with the architect to project and sustain a practice on the landscape that compliment the architectural principles upheld. My engagement becomes present in a moment when Pérez assumes his retirement as an employee of the University of Puerto Rico, custodians of the property since the passing of the architect in 1986. Therefore, the process of documentation acquires a discourse on the validity of his efforts of providing a well-informed labor to a patrimony, which has come to oblivion.

An evaluation of the ecological term “understory”, which refers to the plant life beneath the forested canopy, has been acknowledged to abound on a measure of a place where conversations have initiated. To correspond to this and to assume practices of my interest, a constructive approach was engaged to solicit a temporary installation in the interior of the house. The work proposes the assembly of a reflective plane made of wood and glass, which is conceived to the dimensions of one of the walls of the living room space. Due to the exposed characteristics of the removal of the exterior walls of the house, a reflection of the gardens come to sight from within its core. Thus, permitting to elaborate a discourse on the compromise sustained by the gardener for over 36 years.

The opportunity to have a reunion for the presentation of this work was granted by the School of Architecture of the University of Puerto Rico, an entity that has endorsed our proposal throughout the course of this project. This faculty has acknowledged, thenceforth, my initiative of continuing the maintenance of these gardens.

This research was made possible with the aid of the School of Architecture of the UPR, Beta-Local and Mr. Agustín Pérez, gardener of Casa Klumb from 1976 to 2012. With thanks to my fellow colleagues from La Práctica, for supporting and contributing to this dialogue and to Pablo León de la Barra for his visit and continuous contribution to our affairs.

about Jorge González
Puerto Rico, 1981

My work is based on observation. From such activity stems a process of identifying, gathering and collecting plants for the purpose of creating a path of knowledge aimed at the assessment of the historical, social and cultural profile that reports the study of Botany. This research, in turn, results in a labor of archivist that goes together with taxonomical plant classification and which is established by means of a system which assimilates the methodology of Herbarium.

Collected and dried specimens are preserved mounted and identified on paper. This classification emphasizes and correlates a constructive activity of its devices worked in wood. The connection between the object of study and its physical framework articulates the literary content that defines the self-formative nature of this practice. In this way, I put forth a systematic basis that informs my work process.

These interests arise from questioning materiality, ascribed to a sculptural analysis, which has led to a study on natural history as a model of abstraction. Therefore, my work intends to call for an evaluation of the ideological construct of the landscape and its proximity to the built environment. This approach allows me to establish an analysis of the history of art and its expository development. 

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting project and point of view of modernism architects on the tropical lands. To add in a futur, the project of working on Henrry Klumb´s house at Adjuntas. All the Best, Alberto.