Even a Brick Wants to Be Something

Oliva (ES) - Runner-up


Team Representative: Adrián de Arriba (ES) – architect; Associates: Estela Darriba (ES), Guillermo Pomar (ES), Miguel Fernández (ES) – architects

Avenida La Lealtad 16, 8º, 24404 Ponferrada (ES) 
+34 690 842 775- guillermopomarblanco@gmail.com

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A. de Arriba, E. Darriba, M. Fernandez & G. Pomar

VIDEO (by the team)


1. How did you form the team for the competition?

Adrian and Guillermo were friends, as they studied architecture in the same university in A Coruña (ES). Miguel was doing a Master degree in Valencia (ES) with Adrian when they had a subject that offered them the possibility to do Europan. At that time, Estela and Guillermo were working in RCR architects in Olot, and Adrian and Guillermo joined the team to do the competition in Oliva.

2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?

We understand that Els Rajolars is a place with a very strong and interesting identity and tradition, whose main problem is that it has been disconnected from everything around, due to the massive construction processes that the Spanish coast suffers, as well as to a lack of a function related to the interests of today's society.
We understood the project as a global problem, as a place that had to be intervened from the outside, from the recovery that is cultural –with the Mediterranean culture– and physical –through the numerous natural accidents around the site. For us, this was the main idea, understanding the place as a whole and breaking it down to the smallest detail, and always using the resources of the place. We don't like to catalog places by name, that's why we try to see the project as a whole.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

We try to understand the architecture of the Mediterranean in its entirety, to understand how the people have built on its coast over the years. We think that it is not necessary to repeat speculative processes. We consider that it is necessary to create in order to leave this immobilizing bubble, a point where the people can breathe again and meet the traditional culture as rich as the Valencian Community.
All this starts with the connection with the sea, taking advantage of the resources and natural elements already existing on-site. Later on, it connects with the population of Oliva, because we want that the population participates in this place day by day. Finally, nature is introduced in Els Rajolars, which, together with a new material, allows us to add something more to the ceramic culture of the place, and create a joint atmosphere for the people who live in and visit the place. The creation of a new function that allows the coming together of cultures and globality is fundamental, that is why we think of experimentation spaces for young people from all over the world. These people can live with the Valencian culture and bring their own culture to a short period.


4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?

Three years ago, at university, we had the opportunity to make a competition based on this type of activities. The project was an extension of the limit of the city of Brest in Belarus. We had the opportunity to work with the concepts of sustainability, productivity and environmental respect. It was a great job, which helped us a lot. A few years later, still at university, we carried out another urban growth project in Inner Mongolia using the same concepts.
We look closely at large-scale projects in different parts of the world that work on these concepts, both now and in ancient times. We understand that if you get to understand the essence of the places where you intervene, you acquire a common language to understand other places with a very specific culture, such as the Mediterranean. From the traditional Galician architecture from where we come, to the great interventions of Doshi in India, we have noticed that a single piece of brick can solve almost an entire city, Le Corbusier in Chandigarh or Foster in the new city of Masdar in the United Arab Emirates.
In this way, we discovered that all these proposals coincided in fundamental values, which helped us in our intervention: the introduction of nature in daily life; respect for the existing culture; the use of the materials of the place; the respect for the inhabitants of the place; and, above all, the interest in contributing with something to the place, and not only stick to the solution to a given problem.


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?

We tried to do the best project possible, a project for Oliva and the people who live there. We believe in a brave architecture that tries to change the world. Europan is a platform that admits and respects these architectures unlike any other organizations, which is why we propose what we found as the best solution for the project and the people.

6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

Yes, we are young architects, under 27, and it is the first time that we have done the Europan competition, because of we graduated last year.
For us, the main thing we think that Europan can give us is the confidence to do everything in our career, because today, it is so difficult for younger architects to acquire this mentality in Spain, with the bad situation in architecture business. Another important thing is the visibility of our work in the whole world with the publications.



Office: /
Functions: Architects
Average age of the associates: 25.5 years old

Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?

No, only some competitions for students during our architecture degree