Fermín Vázquez im Interview

Haltung – Farbe – Materialität

Fermín Vázquez von b720 Fermín Vázquez Arquitectos (Barcelona/Madrid)
im Interview mit der db

deutsche Version als PDF lesen »

Ulrike Kunkel (Chefredakteurin db):
You founded your office 20 years ago. Would you say there is a consistent attitude or a specific approach which has characterised and shaped your work since then?

Fermín Vázquez:

    • Perhaps a strong sense of responsibility. We feel extremely committed to our clients and society in general. I think it has to do with the traditional role of the architect in Spain where the formal training includes the engineering of building as much as the design. Despite the increasing number of consultants and specialist that get involved in the design and construction of buildings nowadays, the architect still bears an overall responsibility for the result.


    I hope our work shows our commitment to not letting down anyone but most of all not betraying ourselves. The latter has to do with architectural responses that are unforgivingly contemporary.

To what extent is this also reflected in your project »Mercat dels Encants« in Barcelona?

    I guess that very much indeed. Encants Barcelona Market is a very serious attempt at providing a shape to a new central City Square, integrate smoothly a heavy commercial activity onto the public space and protecting passionately the spirit of a cheap and popular centuries old Market. Once again, not letting anyone down. Needless to say that this all had to be done with a very tight budget and considerable time and construction constraints. The contemporary architectural solution serves faithfully an ancient program.

Which major disruptions and changes have you seen within the last two decades that have affected your work and the architectural language of Spain (or even all of Europe)?

    There are two big changes that have very clearly affected the way we do architecture and urbanism: digitisation and sustainability. I don’t believe they have had an effect particularly in Spain or Europe. They have been global changes, although perhaps with faster and more visible consequences in more developed economies.

Which exceptional challenges did this present you with?

    Architects have always been good at dealing with complexity but the challenges of digitisation and minimising the environmental impact of building have posed a tremendous amount of variable parameters in the design equation. New tools are available but the skills to master them take a time that misleadingly feel much less than those traditional to the profession.

Which materials do you like working with most?
Is there one you could name?

    Certainly not one in particular. Perhaps we have become much more concerned with issues like the embedded energy in the materials we use but we do not have anything like a preferred material. We are very interested though in the development of new techniques of using traditional materials.

How do you make your material decisions?

    I guess we ask ourselves what are the materials that a particular project wants. I mean by it that a every project is different, and conditions vary. The physical context of a project determines very much the materials used in it. The most expensive buildings tend to include exotic materials, but much of the best architecture has normally been built with local materials.

How was the decision made to use pigmented exposed concrete for the »Ciutat de la Justícia« in Barcelona?

    • We could achieve the exact colors we where working for and the changes in color of integrally coloured building materials are very limited even over a longer period of time.


    For the »Ciutat de la Justícia« the use of colour adapts everything to a scale that is more human, varied and subtle. We didn’t want strong colours but deep colours which form part of the material. In fact, a limited proportion of pigment was sufficient to obtain the differences in colour that we wanted.

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