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1. How did you form the team for the competition?
As a group of friends with similar interests but different education backgrounds - architecture and service design, we often found ourselves discussing the possible complementarity of these disciplines. Europan 16 competition gave us the opportunity to create the team and put to practice our theories, applying a mixed design approach to the challenge.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic, Living cities?
To us it was clear that the addition of 12 new housing units to a small scale, social and urban, context was going to have a critical impact. It was fundamental to create a strategy for placemaking and integration of new dwellers in the territory - be them from Beizama, the Basque country, Spain or the world. The strategy we designed consists of a combination of architecture and service design to revitalise Beizama's territory, which we defined as its people, places and customs. The replicable model we proposed in the architecture consists of creating ‘enabling’ spaces informed through qualitative research on the territory and with target users. The aim of our design is to complement Beizama’s current offer to enable people to access these values, through the architecture and the service interventions embedded therein.
The Europan themes and the site issues formed, in our understanding of them, the decision not to tackle them from a strictly architectural or urban approach. The size of the plot, and the size of Beizama did not allow in our opinion for a detached and purely conceptual approach, due to the great impact of the programmatic requirements on the built environment. To create new space meant first of all to envision new interactions, ways of life and activities within consolidated urban forms and dwelling traditions. The new vitality would come from the programs and processes which would activate Beizama through its inhabitants rather than solely the new buildings containing those activities.
As a team of Italian-born members we were very aware of the specific issue of countryside towns with dwindling populations. None of the team members had worked on projects first hand but each of us had personal experiences close to the issues at hand.
5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?
This issue is at the very core of our design strategy. In fact at the very heart of a service design approach - which we got inspired by for this project - is human centricity, bringing the perspective of people who will be directly impacted by the project at the center of the conversation. For this reason, we proposed an iterative five steps approach to accompany the development of the hard and soft infrastructure (architecture and services), involving heavily qualitative research with target users to inform the design. Moreover, we implemented the first steps through user interviews to bring us further along with the approach we proposed.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
It’s the first time we’re awarded the special mention as a team, while one of our team members has already been awarded a special mention in the previous edition in the Netherlands. We see this mention mostly as a boost of confidence in our vision of and approach to architecture, urban development, and service design. It’s a great precedent to have, as we strive to grow our research and practice.
Function: architecture, Service and strategic design, to bring a more human-centric perspective to the design of new urban developments.
Average age of the associates: 30 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? if yes, which ones?
Does your team share a common workplace? if yes, give us a short description: