Team Representative: María Beni Ezquerro (ES) – Architect; Associates: Manuel Pedraz Salas (ES), Francisco Javier Fernández García (ES), Marta Peinado Alós (ES) – Architects
Contributor: Pablo Irarrazaval Saavedra (CI) – Student in Landscape
M. Beni Ezquerro, M. Pedraz Salas, F. Javier Fernández García, M. Peinado Alós & P. Irarrazaval Saavedra
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
María Beni and Marta Peinado are Architects by the Polytechnic School of Catalunya and cofounders of ‘m2’, a young architectural firm based in Barcelona since 2018. They met Manuel Pedraz and Francisco Javier Fernández, Architects by the Seville School of Architecture, during the “MBArch-Advanced Studies in Architecture” in Barcelona. The team is completed by Josu Acebrón, Architect and master student in landscape architecture at UPC and consultant on water affairs and Pablo Irarrázaval, Architect originally from Chile based in Barcelona, as contributors.
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?
From the beginning we saw the main goal of the contest, a new entrance for Sant Climent, as an opportunity for rethinking the relation of the town with its environment. That could be articulated through the streambed that cross many different ecosystems. We explored the history of Sant Climent and its streams and we found out the great agroforestry potential of this territory. We tried to mix this potential with a possible and organic development of Sant Climent bringing back the rural landscapes to the town and giving to the citizens the supporting tools for adapting and taking advantage of this changes.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
In this case, the main concern of the municipality was to solve the access to the village of Sant Climent, as well as to define the position and number of new houses in the area of the access. For us, it was immediately clear that the solution was to create an alternative rapid access, but for pedestrians or cyclists, which would arise from the natural recovery and consolidation of the bed of the Sant Climent stream, which is still the original access to the municipality. Therefore, the recovery of the stream allows us a process of improving: the connectivity, the control of the floods of the stream, the water strategy of the nearby environment and the relationship of the inhabitants with the territory. Regarding the new housing, after a study of the municipality and the demographic processes, we believed it was unnecessary to build new units, and even less so in the surroundings of the river. The strategy was to first use the +100 empty houses that Sant Climent currently has and then locate the new lots in the most central plots, promoting the compact growth of the town itself.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
The main topic of Europan 15: "the productive city" is a topic we have addressed for the first time as a team. However, several of us have had professional experience in architectural offices specialized in landscape, so we could definitely say that our approach to the subject from a political, environmental and landscape perspective, is not new to us. We have always been interested in questioning the topics that are introduced to us before launching into research for new answers, so we could say that although the issue we were faced with was new, neither the way we approached it or the strategies we proposed to solve it were. As for projects that have served as a reference, in this case our main inspiration came from the traditional and anonymous architecture of the dry-stone walls and terraces in many parts of Spain and especially in the agricultural environment of the project. In addition, we feel inevitably linked to several projects close to Sant Climent, such as the project for the recovery of urban gardens and their traditional irrigation system in Caldes de Montbui by CAVAA architects, and the delicate work of Batlle i Roig in tracing the path of the old gypsum mines in Igualada.
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?
Our proposal can only be understood through a timeline in which various mechanisms, not only architectural, but also political, environmental and collective, follow one another to configure a new system and relationship of the inhabitants of Sant Climent with their environment. The architectural mechanisms are intended to act only as dynamizers of the social and political processes that are truly far-reaching enough to bring change to Sant Climent. These changes can only take place if the strategies are managed collectively through citizen participation but led by administrations that are aware and willing, as proposed in our project.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
It is the first time we have been awarded in Europan and also the first time taking part in the competition. Receiving this award is very exciting for all of us in the team. It locates us in the kind of architecture in which we believe and want to dedicate our careers to. It also defines us as individuals and profession. Finally, we are looking forward to meeting the Sant Climent community and present our project too.
Functions: Architecture, landscape architect
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 that we have worked together in a competition, but separately we have won some competitions such as Concentrico Contest or Pladur Solutions Student Contest.