Team Representative: Guillermo González Tofino (ES) – Architect; Associate: Beatriz Nieto Rodríguez (ES) – Architect
B. Nieto Rodríguez & G. González Tonfino
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
We met at the Architecture School by sharing the same desk for months and months during our final Project Thesis (PFC). In Spain the PFC is a huge and very long step that can take a few years, it creates strong bonds between partners. Advice, ideas, joys and dislikes are easily shared between fellows and it is pretty common that at the end of the process individual projects benefit from collective ideas and contain inspiration from others. This experience deeply touched us and encouraged us to enter this competition.
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?
In contrast with the idea of developing a project that clearly defines the private space or establishes new productive uses, our proposal focuses on the transformation of the negative space: the public; such as roads, urban empty areas or easements, which work as the basis for all territory. Therefore, the project is conceived as a sustainable and strategic proposal that puts the territory into operation. We believe that it is very important to bet on the generation of environments which may favor new industrial models. This is achieved through a catalog of green systems or infrastructures that will be inserted in the whole territory as a work of surgery, some kind of ”Primordial soup” where more sustainable industries and models may emerge.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
Nowadays, Spain is experiencing a social crisis -wellknown as the "empty Spain"- that involves rural areas and fringe cities depopulation and deindustrialization. Casar de Caceres is part of this empty Spain. It currently has a large industrial unplanned and depressed area, which, however has a lot of potential. Due to this conjuncture, a re-industrialization project is proposed where the sustainability -economic, social, ecological and historical- is the axis that will guarantee future progress and sets the basis for a 21st century industrial development project.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
We strongly believe in working with architectural pre-existences in depressed areas by transforming and revaluing them. This is crucial, in order to recover our cities, and involves a major social commitment impact more than spreading growth. Our approaches in this field have been only academic; through our Final Project Thesis (PFC), in which we investigate how to work with architectural and urban pre-existences. On the one hand, Beatriz Nieto explored, in her PFC “Somos la UVA”, the regeneration of the UVA of Hortaleza a degraded neighbourhood in Madrid built in the 60’s by Fernando Higueras. Rehabilitating substandard housing blocks into an affordable cohabiting cooperative as part of a challenging urban project. On the other hand, Guillermo Gonzalez Tofiño proposed in his PFC “Eclectic Landscapes” an intervention in an abandoned and iconic university residence in Madrid by transforming it into a new space for both student accommodation and leisure center for the neighborhood. We believe that both explorations have greatly helped us to focus this project by being aware not only to the demands of depressed contexts, but also to work sensitively with already built environments.
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 believe that, currently, any big project must be not only aware of the different agents and actors, but also incorporate a development strategy which includes them. In this sense, our project establishes an equitable infrastructure that seeks to allow independent action to each one of the different sectors. Likewise, a management plan that incorporates private agents, local institutions and governments as the main actors, is established. By this strategy the different infrastructures foresee -according to their typology- a collective participation by a public, mixed and private management.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
This is the first time we participate in Europan and we are really happy and proud to have achieved this special mention. As we have recently finished our studies in architecture school we have only plans in mind. We want to focus our future work in the intervention of depressed environments in order to recover decay architectures and urban areas by rehabilitation. We believe that it is now, in the post-crisis period, when we must bet on the recovery of degraded environments that can serve as icons and symbols of a sustainable future. In this sense, Europan has clearly helped us to consolidate our ideas and we hope it can serve as a bridge to develop them.
Average age of the associates: 28 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?
This is the first time we won a prize as a team. We have individually obtained some awards in academic competitions.
- Guillermo Gonzalez Tofiño obtained for his Diploma Thesis the Intervention in modern architectural heritage honor mention by the COAM, the Annual Diploma Thesis Award by San Pablo CEU university, Schindler Local Award and Second Prize IE ARCHITECTURE+ PRIZE for emerging talent.
- Beatriz Nieto Rodriguez obtained for her Diploma Thesis the urban regeneration honor mention by the COAM, the ASAccion ‘REhabitating’ special mention by ASA -Asociación Sostenibilidad y Arquitectura- and the Schindler Local Award on accessibility solutions.