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Thank you all for coming yesterday to the Chicago Design Museum, and attend the event ‘Envisioning New Spatial Organizations’, organized by Iker Gil, editor in Chief of Chicago Architecture & Culture Journal MAS Context, within the 2018 Spring Talk Series. It was great to speak side by side with Stewart Hicks, from Design With Company, and game developer William Chyr, whose work (both of them’s) I’ve been a big fan for a long time. Thanks also to the Chicago Design Museum for kindly hosting us. A transcription of the talks is coming soon, so keep an eye on MAS context’s website for this and future events.

Ok, leaving for Ann Arbor now. I’ll keep informing.

Update: MAS Context uploaded a transcription of the whole event (with images!) Click the image below to get there.

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US Tour

Le Voyageur Luggage Trolley Bags (Not real merchandise, sorry)

So, after two short visits to Newcastle (thanks, Steve!), and Glasgow (Thanks, Jonathan!), tomorrow I start the US leg of my 2017-18 Tour, while I still ponder what I’ll do next year for Klaustoon’s 10th anniversary (where did all those years go?!).

For those interested, on February 14th, I’ll be in the Chicago Design Museum, together  with Stewart Hicks, from Design With Company, and game developer William Chyr, in the event ‘Envisioning New Spatial Organizations’, organized by editor Iker Hill for his MAS Context 2018 Spring Talk Series.

On February 15th and February 19th, I’ll be (in disguise) at Taubman College, in Michigan. And, finally, on the 21st, I’ll be lecturing in the School of Architecture of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, closing the Hyde Lecture Series 2017-18. 

So, don’t take it personally if I’m a little unresponsive these upcoming weeks.

Next stop: Mexico! (Coming soon).

 

 

 

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We’re rapidly approaching that time of the year, so before it’s too late, let’s dust off some stuff. A couple years ago, Paula Melâneo, editor of Arq’a, emailed me asking if I’d be interested in including a some of my work in the ‘dossier’ section of their magazine. And I was. Here are some med-res images of it. BTW: Thanks to Luís Santiago Baptista for his interest in my work, after being featured together in this issue of STUDIO magazine.

Soon, I’ll include a downloadable .pdf file somewhere on this site.

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Amazingly, it’s been almost 4 years since we put together our special issue of MAS Context: Narrative, mostly thanks to chief editor Iker Gil’s help and persistence. In it, we included a short interview with comic-book icon Joost Swarte, who kindly answered our questions about his Toneelschuur Theatre, built in collaboration with Mecanoo Architects. Paradoxically, I had never been to the building. A little detour to Haarlem in a recent trip to Delft helped me solve that. It didn’t disappoint.

Full text of “Swarte’s Mystery Theater” here.

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Recently (meaning yesterday), Barozzi and Veiga were in the news due to the inclusion of one of their non-built designs, the Neanderthal Museum in Piloña, Spain (2010), in Blade Runner 2049. In a way. Somehow. Being the hardcore fan of the original film since I first watched it, a Friday night in September 1988, I’m going to avoid commentary on the new film. The inclusion is a big deal for them, anyway, and, since I’m partially responsible for bringing the news to the foreground, I thought it might be worth dusting off this interview (by Indira Van’t Klooster) and cartoon (by me) published in A10 exactly two years ago. Both the interview and the cartoon were published in the Forty and Famous book.

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Since they founded Barozzi/Veiga in 2004 Fabrizio Barozzi and Alberto Veiga have finished two spectacular projects. Both the Headquarters of Ribera de Duero (2010) in Spain, and the Mies van der Rohe Award winning Philharmonic in Szczecin (2014) in Poland show a remarkable contextual originality and strength. With the Tanzhaus in Zürich (CH) and the School of Music in Brunico (IT) coming up we are eager to learn more about working in different European contexts. Alberto Veiga is on the phone but he also speaks for Fabrizio: “When designing we are basically the same persons, we fulfill the same role. We don’t work like where the technical one completes the conceptual one or that type of nonsense. We are full grown designing personalities that happen to be able to work very well together. We didn’t start out as friends either: we worked at the same office (which one?) and were winning a lot of competitions separately. That’s when we decided that we might start an office on our own. We have been discovering each other during the competitions we did together and still we are learning. What kind of architect is he? What type of person? The basic goal of doing competitions is to win them, obviously, but they are a good method to learn more about yourself and the other.”

Alberto Veiga and Fabrizio Barozzi were not student pals. They were not even friends when they started working together. ‘We worked at the same office, at Vázquez  Consuegra, and after a competition win we decided to start an office on our own. The basic goal of doing competitions is to win them, obviously, but they are a good method for learning more about yourself and the other.’… ‘We don’t like work where the technical one completes the conceptual one or that type of nonsense. We are fully grown designing personalities that happen to be able to work very well together.’ So much for debunking a few myths on the romanticism of starting an office.

Almost all of your projects are from winning competitions. What’s the secret?

There are no secrets, we just try to do the competition the best we can. Even before asking ourselves about the brief, we think about the basic mainframe. Do we like the
country, the location, its food, etc.? It may sound banal, but when you win a competition, you have to be there very often for a very long time, so you’d better be sure you’re going to like it there. Then, it’s really important that you like the idea of working there, and this includes food. Polish food is far better than you would expect. In Switzerland, we… prefer the landscape [laughs].

Your office only does competitions, and you win one in every six. How do you proceed?

Select, find concept, develop concept, discover potential, introduce experts, criticize, manipulate, improve. In that particular order. But to win, I can give three tips. First: Dreams come first; you can sacrifice later. Second: Ask yourself, sincerely, ‘Can I be good? Can I be the best?’ We never pick hospitals, and we stopped doing housing. We mostly participate in competitions abroad. Then, you have to be really good and outsmart the local architects. Third: Check the small factors. Who is on the jury? How likely is it that it will get built? Is the process well-organized in time? Money? Procedures?

Your clients are municipalities, and almost all your works are public and cultural. Do you specifically aim to get such clients and buildings?

At first, we didn’t specifically choose cultural projects, but those happened to be the projects we won. The sad side is that we lost an awful lot of housing competitions and schools, but by winning – and building – the cultural projects, we gained a lot of experience in this typology. So now we are more picky. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that schools and social housing demand more in-depth knowledge of the location, the local regulations and laws, so those are easier for local architects to understand. Cultural buildings, in that sense, are a bit more free. Clients demand that they stand out in their surroundings, so for us as foreign architects, they are easier to tackle. (…)

Have you discovered differences in (building) culture between Poland, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland?

Yes, in regulations, procedures, mentality. In Switzerland, an architect is a person that manages a project from beginning to end, like in Spain. But in Switzerland there is always a contractor in between that has incredible control over the building process. In Spain, you are completely free, also to fail, and then you’re on your own. In Italy, the building process is much more controlled by politicians. The more South you go, the more local politicians take over. In the north of Europe, the separation between public and private is more strict. In Poland, it’s no disadvantage to be young – everybody is young there! The mayor of Szczecin is the same age as we are; you can’t believe how important that is for the process. To have a common ground, to go to the same concerts or festivals and to be done with the argument, ‘When I was your age’, or ‘When you’re as old as me, you’ll understand’. In Italy, mayors are usually older, and this is much more difficult to work with. 

You have accomplished so much already. What are your ambitions for the future? 

No plans. Every step so far has been the result of a desire or a feeling, but never of a plan. We try to find work and to have fun while trying to make a living of it. We meet new people all the time, which enriches our lives in a tremendous way. We want to go on like this for the next ten years.

Indira van ‘t Klooster: Barozzi / Veiga: Vagabond Architects. Interchange, A10 Magazine #65 September-October 2015, 18-19

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Barozzi / Veiga was founded in Barcelona in 2004 by Fabrizio Barozzi and Alberto Veiga. The office has won numerous competitions, among them the refurbishment of the Palacio de Santa Clara in Úbeda, the Auditorium of Águilas, Musée de Beaux-arts in Lausanne, and the Bündner Kunstmuseum extension in Chur. Their work has gained wide international recognition for design excellence. In 2014, the studio was selected as one of ten firms in that year’s Design Vanguard by Architectural Record. You can check their website here.

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The whole issue can be read at the A10 Coop Website, and downloaded in .pdf here.

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You can also get a copy of Forty and Famous: 10 Interviews with Successful Young European Architects in A10’s website. 

 

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Many (count me as one of those) seemed to think this blog was dead, but, alas, we were all wrong and here I am, back for my now customary -it seems- biannual update. There have been some other works waiting the line in the last two years, but, since they’re late already, I thought it might be worth sharing something hot off the presses. A little backstory for this one: A few months ago, Sarah and David Karle, from the University of Nebraska Lincoln contacted me, asking if I’d join this year’s Hyde Lecture Series, a question whose answer is, by default, ‘Yes, of course’.

They also asked if I would like to design this year’s poster. Unfortunately, I’ve been swamped by work this term, and I would hardly be able to fit it in my schedule. So I said the only thing I could: ‘Sure, I’ll do it!’. Of course, since I was in a very tight schedule, I decided to make the drawing as complicated as possible. I’m not sure this is the most crowded cartoon I’ve produced so far, but it’s certainly up there in the Top Ten.

Thanks, guys, I’ll see you in February!

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Bonus peek #1: I rarely (as in ‘never’) produce preliminary mock-ups for my drawings, just some random sketches. But they asked, so as to get an idea of what they would be getting, and in this case I thought it was more than fair. It was also very useful, because the poster needed to be bigger than my usual drawing size, so making sure it worked in advance took some anxiety away. In fact, I later blew it up and drew the pencils on top of it, which made the process of adding the details a pretty zen experience.

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Bonus peek #2: The final drawing for the poster, from pencils, to inks, to colors. See if you can spot all the referents (no Trump, sorry).
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