Team Representative: Jesús Lazcano López (ES) – architect; Associates: Carlos García Fernández (ES), Begoña De Abajo García (ES), Irene Campo Sáez (ES) – architects
C. Fernández, B. García, I. Sáez & J. López
VIDEO (by the team)
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
The four of us studied at the Madrid School of Architecture and we met there under different circumstances. Thanks to our common interests we have been collaborating for architectural competitions in recent years. Together we won the first prize in E14 – Torrelavega (ES) in 2017, and now E15, with a similar topic but a different programme, site and scale, giving us a new chance to continue developing our work and research.
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?
When we first approached Lasarte-Oria, we got shocked because of the multiple layers which, altogether, define this city. Due to its scale, Lasarte-Oria seemed a place where every kind of landscape is possible and could be wandered through within just a few minutes. The huge Michelin Plant is almost colliding with the city center and the farms and forests are always visible, so in our minds the city had a collage-like image of these multiple situations in a way that was already engaged with this session topic. Concentrate on all this complex environment arranged through the addition of industrial, rural, urban and natural landscapes and scales in a similar but condensed way was therefore our main goal, and our medium was a rational and sustainable construction.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
LO-LO-LAND reflects on the opportunities that the implementation of a public housing facility (VPO), which combines dwellings with production programs, can offer to a context such as Lasarte-Oria. The implementation of the designed system to an urban lot located in the limits of the city, and with very specific topographic conditions, allows exploring its possibilities of adaptation in a expanded context. The construction proposed is restricted to a compact and efficient volume that allows freeing as much unsealed surface as possible and organizes programs in an adaptable and flexible structure. The scalar relationship of the building with its surroundings is resolved taking advantage of the steep slope of the plot. By maintaining its top level, it dialogues with the city and the linear blocks at one end, and is reduced to two heights, entering the forest at the opposite end. In addition, the building resolves the difficult accessibility of the plot by incorporating elevators, which sew urban itineraries with public circulation spaces at different levels within the building. This new corridors become the in-between spaces.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
Yes. For us, as architects and researchers, our generational challenge is to find the way to develop an adaptive, versatile and open-programmed architecture which would be able to deal with concepts such as immediacy, unexpected and even randomness that the contemporary city requires. Evolution in cities implies transformations in the way buildings are used. LO-LO-Land proposes a separation between infrastructural elements and infill allowing the building to adapt to different programmatic needs in the long term without major transformations in the structure. This project continues in the line of research of which we have been developing since 2013, of which stands out our proposal Vacant Space (E14) for the refurbishment of Torrelavega’s Cattle Market. This huge building located in the middle of the city is now infra-utilized due to economic and population changes during the last century. Our proposal for this building intends as well to create the maximum possibilities of use with the minimum constructive and economic impact. More than specific projects, we would say that two main concepts inspired us. On one hand, the system relates to the idea of the Open Building developed by John Habraken since the 60s. On the other hand, the idea of the block and the corridors remembers us the concept of the “Streets in the Sky” by the Smithson.
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?
In the specific case of LO-LO-Land, an infrastructural system is proposed to define the support and the minimum units that can be organized inside the building, so a first ‘degree 0’ of flexibility is set before defining the organization of the dwelling units. Using the proposed system, the development of the project will take into account every agent involved (users, administration, local industry, etc.) and every regulation in relation to social housing and accessibility in the Basque Country and national wise. The initial distribution will answer the needs fixed by the valid regulations nowadays; in the short term, the productive space will easily admit variations in size and distribution in the event of a normative change. Likewise, the proposed structure admits multiple ways of living, allowing small transformations in the domestic space in the middle term, without affection of the structure. Also the complete transformation in the use of the building was considered, reducing the number of housing units to implement other programs, such as working spaces or community services in case of a future need.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
Carlos (E10 and E13) and Begoña (E13) obtained honorable mentions before, and in 2017 the whole team were awarded with the first prize in Europan 14 – Torrelavega (ES) with the project Vacant Space. This Project was presented in the XX International Conference on Industrial Heritage held in Gijón in September 2018, and has been subject of several meetings with the government and the press of Cantabria. After several years of research and development, we are about to sign a contract with the Government of Cantabria for the redaction of the basic and implementation project. Vacant Space is a project that especially interests us because of the possibility it offers us to confront our ideas with reality and explore the limits of architecture in a deeper way. This second prize in E15 – Lasarte (ES), with the project LO-LO Land, has allowed us to continue researching on the same topic of productive cities, but on a smaller scale and with a very different program.
Average age of the associates: 33 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?
Built work: Sotogrande Sailing School / Reinosa Community Center / Public Plaza Saint Jacques Trail / Private House / Book Store. Developed Under Construction: Two private houses Competitions: First Prize: Europan 14 Torrelavega (ES) / Sotogrande Sailing School / Reinosa Community Center / Public Plaza Saint Jacques Trail. Third Prize: Mahou Building Restoration. Mention: Europan 10 Entroncamento (PO), Europan 10 Tallín (EE), Europan 13 Helsinki (FI). Finalist: Second Phase Tampere Contemporary Museum Extension.