XIII Lecture on Humanities, Engineering and Architecture

Academic, Articles

XIII Lecture on Humanities, Engineering and Architecture


[Interview published by Arturo Franco in ‘The Cultural ABC, 2006 ]

In a general atmosphere of vulgarity and urban nonsense , what this new approach seeks social housing Mirador Building to Madrid? How do you address the problem facing the urban periphery garroted ?

In the twentieth century , housing , especially social housing was like never before in the history of the city, the main protagonist of architecture. Today no one thinks housing ; just thousands and thousands of homes are repeated most often conventional , banal and outdated formulas. The property now seems to have become a commodity speculation and no architectural value.

Our building stands and raises his voice to reflect the importance to always keep domestic architecture in a city.

The neighborhood seems Sanchinarro arrive at a value per square meter built and a ” big mall ” . In the environment of these new neighborhoods as overly homogeneous arguably ours is a provocative response to the challenge posed by the architecture of mass production and the anachronistic urban surroundings.

The essential idea is to open the building to the environment, make a piece of city, a place connected to the urban context and social relationships . Clearly the building exposes its presence as framing a distant landscape , the Sierra de Guadarrama , is the expression of a desire to create links with the neighborhood, with routes rapid circulation ( M- 30, M -40 , A- 1, A- 10) , with the territory, with the media context . How? Breaking the closed apple and carrying the courtyard of heights to become a viewpoint from which neighbors can admire the sunsets and the mountains on the horizon block. So the built in high volume releases a public space , a plaza at street level demand that the contemporary city .

Is it possible to adapt to economic modules of social housing and at the same time, consider the definition of the city from architecture ?

The history of architecture is the history of the achievement of the best ideas. But today we associate ideas money. Perhaps this is a vision of society derived from excess and consumption. However, sometimes the best ideas are born in limited situations or even economic limits. For example , housing in the period of post-war reconstruction in the last century was fraught with many good proposals from very few material resources .

Also in architecture the idea the value, the gray matter at stake . The best building is not the most expensive . In many areas of our society , the value of ideas attracts financial means. Architects have to convince the added value of the ideas market architecture proposes interesting solutions that cost the same and worth much more.

What is necessary for the Administration to rely on this type of proposal ?

The arguments convincing . Defend an idea , impossible as it may seem, is something that must be based on sound and well-defended arguments understandable .

Then you need to use strategies to involve the social partners. For example , it is best to spark interest risk . The caller has to feel that it is a participant in the project, not just a spectator, but actor. A project as a dream of the future , always provoke emotions , sometimes found: surprise, confusion , excitement , disbelief , illusion … You also have to meet expectations and needs.

What kind of adjustments have had to suffer the original idea to be able to adapt to this reality?

In Spain , a project progresses to the last day of work. This does not happen in other countries, like the Netherlands or Germany, where the process is shielded from the day that begins the execution of the work . I think ours is a situation that has a great advantage and a lot of work in the development process .

Every day we make decisions , negotiate solutions and continue to project a team of over a hundred people -Dragados , the EMV , the project management , technicians , producers , managers and operators , which make possible what seemed impossible just two years ago .

This project aims to be a prototype can be replicated in similar situations , becoming an alternative?

This project is part of an ongoing investigation , can produce different solutions. In fact , we are now also working with MVRDV housing project in another part of the same investigation. However, the way we took in this case does not have the character to be a repeatable piece.

Is the participation of star architects like MVRDV is required for these initiatives to be taken into consideration? How has developed collaboration with Jacob van Rijs and his team?

Chances are never accidental architecture . You always have to look for them or rather create them.

When the possibility of a project for me arose EMV is proposed to share the commission with a foreign team of international prestige. I did not hesitate long in making a decision that some considered risky : I chose to work with the Dutch team MVRDV, I felt absolutely necessary to go for the revolting Madrid and provocative ideas of this team. I must say that do not interest me too much entrenched positions and consecrated many prestigious architects .

I thought , well , that could give us a powerful chemistry between exchange , as it were , from positions sometimes found, sometimes confluent and always complementary.

Between us is able to convince while yours do know the other’s view , also know change view. Get off the self-conviction and personal dogmatism that prevents us keep thinking . The key of our collaboration is that both MVRDV as I do this normally. I remember, for example, a working session at the very beginning , where we debated opposing views : Jacob suggested I make an exchange of positions , he would endorse my idea and I would assume as his own . We came to surprising conclusions . Do not shy away from conflict and step into the shoes of another gives us an unusual perspective.

It is a great pleasure to work with Jacob greatly admire and appreciate the clean and unprejudiced view of these Dutch architects. Sometimes I see in them a childlike unconsciousness and daring, which is very necessary in excessively Madrid conventional architectural setting.

I must also say that EMV has accepted from the beginning and has defended our work at all times with the utmost respect and confidence. Also work as a construction company Dragados is a guarantee for carrying out a project of this nature .

What phase is in the works right now and what the new project is preparing for Sanchinarro ?

We finish the work this summer and MVRDV are also starting to build a second project in Sanchinarro . Both housing projects were born at the same time as two forms of the same idea : to break the block. I put a name to each and we keep calling them thus: ‘ Mirador’ and ‘ Gauntlet ‘ . The second will say that instead of having a large gazebo on the twelfth floor , has twenty small gazebos, scattered throughout its volume , thereby creating a ‘ sieve effect “capable of linking the residential building environment .



[Interview by José García Osorio published in the journal ‘ Via Architecture’ , 2009]

What attracted you to the architecture to want to make it your profession?

What excites me the task of the architect is to interpret dreams , desires and needs of people to create the stage of human life . The city is the great invention of mankind, and the architecture is inert raw material from which it is made . I’m not saying change the architecture existence to men , but I think it can help you live better both individually and collectively . The school, home , market, theater, hospital … in short , the architecture is part of our daily life and also the site of major events . I’m passionate about my work.

Were disciple Saenz de Oiza and you get started in the office of Rafael Moneo , how you influence these contacts at the dawn of your career?

Javier Sáenz de Oiza was my teacher and my director of PFC and doctoral theses. From him I learned to love the architecture and the continued ability to surprise. He taught us to seek freedom of thought and critical eye , not to be prejudiced , because the first obstacle to understanding the world around you is what you know and know beforehand. Just finish career, Rafael Moneo asked me to collaborate on his Chair in Composition at the School of Architecture of Madrid. I was fortunate to work with him at the University for four years with a grant from FPI and learned of his hand analysis and rigorous, systematic and thorough investigation of both the theory and the architectural project. I feel very fortunate and I will always be indebted to them , because I provided a generous and humane education.

In 1985 you founded your own office , since you have done such disparate works as a lighthouse, a jail, a park, a bookmobile , several buildings of VPP , the restoration of a convent or mounting exhibitions, what do you consider architectural values are maintained in each of the projects that you have developed ?

I think it’s a kind do such different projects, every time we face a new uncertainty. And I like this. I have a friend who says that to be an entrepreneur need to feel ” a little hungry and a little scary ,” ie some dissatisfaction and some pessimism. We always ask: Will we be able ?

We tried many solutions and we will refuse to decant options that meets the more rigorous the indissoluble blend of functionality and beauty. We like challenges , investigate and experiment therefore innovate, with the intention of getting thrill, seek welfare , foster communication, servicing and offering new answers to future needs; surprise trying to offer more and better than we are asks the famous ” give free by cat ” , saying Alejandro de la Sota .

What do you pose when you approach a new project?

It haunts me to think without prejudice, not fall into the trap of the device, the obvious, the set . Because the world keeps changing , and if we do not understand what is happening around us today and for the future , especially in the way we live , we obsolete or anachronistic projects. I think the projects are possibilities, but you reveal them as if they were hidden mysteries . I am slow , I need time because the chances of going ruminating and then decanting or disposal gradually. When I take a long time to a project I’ll head beginning to unravel , to find the best possibility , one in which the ‘ puzzle ‘ fit (concept, form , system, structure , image, material, software …) and answers to all the problems that always raises a project . Is that architectural projects are highly complex problems … Until you have the result ! Then you are simple, because everything fits . The architecture is built with gray matter , making possible the best ideas.

One of your concerns has been the pursuit of energy self-sufficiency projects and more efficient power consumption , do you think that the break in the current heavy is the optimal time to force a paradigm shift towards sustainability real?

No doubt , at least we will have more time to think. I hope that the investigation will work to architects in new fields of thought, innovation and architectural knowledge . Thinking the city , for example. Architects are well trained and know what to do Think of the contests they have hundreds of architects , now , more than ever by the crisis. A design competition is an important field of research, a system that produces a lot of gray matter working. All that talent and that creative thought and energy, largely lost because there is no effective structure that valued. This waste of energy is not sustainable all. We are working on renewable energies, integrated systems, eco-efficiency, sustainability in architecture. No doubt , this is critical , real and sensible, but I savor it we planteáramos how to be efficient with the talent and knowledge. I worry what will become of the capabilities of many young Spanish architects no future horizon .

Your modern house research conducted in Spain and the United States has been compiled in books and Dream Report inhabit inhabit , why so difficult housing project without falling into clichés and the drag of tradition and custom ?

I think the new proposals, the changes have to explain . If we stop to think about how food has changed in Spain in many years we will see that not surprisingly . From casseroles and eating houses we have moved to a much more experimental and innovative , and mixtures of diverse cultural backgrounds food. What happened ? The chefs have come out of the kitchen we now explain , suggest , encourage and convince its proposals for change. Also the media and industry involved with them. And so, almost without realizing it , in the food we got rid of the immovable Imposition of tradition and custom as the only possibility . Is added , and no doubt , we now have much more choice . In the kitchen has opened a vast field of possibilities. Maybe something happens with houses like if we can go slowly explaining our proposals , those who want to go beyond the tradition and custom .

Since 1990 you impart classes at the School of Architecture of Madrid and has taught at various international universities and taught several workshops around the world, what do you consider to have contributed to teaching and what she has brought to you?

To me teaching gives me a permanent training. It’s a demanding cía staff and also a gift . Now I am in charge of International Relations Branch of the Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid and we are open to working in the greater internationalization possible because our students have a great talent and a desire huge learning . Enhance your skills and experiences in other countries is something important for your future career . Today more than ever . Working on this project is exciting .

I am interested in teaching and am very interested in communication. I should also say that for a few years early in my career, I was not interested and I worried : it was a time of introversion and personal quest. Now sime interested because my work makes sense if hard work in relation to others, the opinions of others, the lives of others . I think it important to exchange views with other professionals or citizens who are not architects, other countries , cultures and different customs . Publications , teaching in other countries, conferences , public debates are part of my current job.