We are making a display stand for Damm Beers, a bottle display stand which will be on view in all bars. It’s a small object, but it will be everywhere and will become part of many people’s lives. Something like this is important and carries great responsibility. We are also digging up a plot of land in Palma de Mallorca, so we can build a hotel. As we watch the hole appear, we are somewhat taken aback – the feeling is somewhat greater than mere respect. It’s a fear of not being able to match the promise of our technical skills, an ability recognised by institutions and substantiated by projects we have completed. You come face-to-face with something you are involved in and you are in awe. You discover your fragility, that deep down you are small, but due to some strange momentum you see yourself destined for an excessive act, at the limits of arrogance. Time and people will put things into perspective. We have also completed a hotel in Granada and another in Barcelona. They are both very different. One of them is an annex to an historic building, the Palacio de los Patos. The other is a change of use for two floors in a building opposite the Ciutadella Park in Barcelona. We are about to start on another in Jerez. We are in talks with the council to persuade them that, yes, it may be different, but it’ll be worth the effort. It’s something which needs to be tried out and over time it may even come to be considered something which was bound to have happened. We are also cooperating with the people at Layetana with a view to constructing a large building, a high building. Anyway, the main thing is we’re involved in projects. We’re also at work in the Ebro Delta where private property developers have started large housing projects. It is a delicate area, fragile, but the changes taking place cannot be stopped. We are there, but it doesn’t look easy. The mere fact of being there implies taking a risk. The secret lies in doing things with care. However, there is a momentum which is greater than all of us. It is bound to be beneficial, so we have to become part of it.
Faced with such momentum, we can but try to participate – which in itself is something – be participants and contribute with one of our designs, but while handling things with good care. We have decided on a strategy of First Do, Then Think. Counterproductive? We think not. In case of doubt, act. Join the momentum to bring about situations which are unfamiliar, unexpected, surprising and thus unnerving with the aim to achieving greater solutions. It’s an exaggerated, unsettling methodology, but it’s a way of opening up new approaches. A certain kind of innocence which is still capable of honing our technical skills and taking us to places from where we never emerge in the way we thought we would. Once the situation has been brought about, analysis takes place, leading to a solution which emerges while putting things into practice. This is unlike drawing up a design, trying to implement it and later on finding yourself up against a problem. In contrast, a solution will open up the way.
This is why advantage must be taken of dynamic situations we come across as we go along. Things which come up are taken on board and we continue to move forward at a considerable pace.This means collaborators as well as clients are forever changing. Because the only thing which doesn’t change is the act of doing things for people. Everyone who is around us, including the property developers, may come and go. They are dispensable, although nobody likes to think they are. The only thing which doesn’t change is the need to provide a service, cover a need which very often hasn’t been identified, but can be sensed on the horizon. This is why it’s essential to lay the groundwork well in advance – only Spiderman is capable of boarding a moving train.
Besides all these projects we have also set up a technical office in China. Going to China constituted a great risk. What we have learnt is that in China everything moves at a very slow pace and it’s essential to lay the groundwork well in advance. We have been there a year. There have been plenty of meetings and proposed projects, but we still haven’t even got as far as fitting a single door handle. We have needed all this time to establish contacts with property developers, politicians and specialists in the country and gain their trust while getting them interested in our projects. We have now reached the stage where we are still putting forward new projects, but the first ones have already found a way of going ahead. The process is difficult when faced with the bureaucracy and the peculiar way the Chinese have of implementing things decided on in a meeting. But it has also been very difficult to find an approach, a method once a project has found direction and has been set in motion. It needs to be monitored with greater patience and action taken just at the right moment in the knowledge it is moving forward very slowly, but it is actually moving forward. There’s still enough uncertainty, though, for any step you may take forwards to be moved back just as easily. However, the contacts we have established mean it’s a risk, but it’s not plain suicidal. This is the right moment for us in China. For something to happen you have to actually be there. We went there because we believed we should be there. After entering into a partnership with a Chinese team and sending a member of our own team, we were forced to sit back and think about the next stage. Once there we had to spring into action, so while architecture was making its torturous advances, we sought to make contacts in the construction sector. A potential project emerged involving the manufacture of a pre-fabricated facade in China which would then be put up in Barcelona. We also looked at prefabricated modules for the hotels we are building, or prefabricated kitchens for housing in the Delta. This is how things stand at present.
But we are still considering new challenges.
A few weeks ago, NASA spokespeople talked to the University of Florida about the agency’s objectives over the next forty years of space exploration. One of the topics they dealt with was the fact that, as the US administration had made massive cutbacks in NASA funding, the agency was planning on looking for funding from private companies or investment groups interested in space tourism. Maybe the time has arrived for people to start believing in investing in space. This means not just receiving instructions from GPS system satellites, rather they should perhaps be given the chance to go into space themselves. Obviously, we are not the only ones it has occurred to.
Since April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin manned the first voyage into space, the number of such voyages has only been four a year, most them carried out by the US or Russia.
In 2004, 3 out of 5 scheduled voyages were carried out by Mojave Aerospace Ventures in ships built by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites (Rutan is a legendary force in aeronautic design) and financed exclusively by the space entrepreneur Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. On September 27, 2004 Richard Branson’s Virgin Group (Branson is the founder of airline companies or companies owning a single drinks brand) signed a contract with Paul G. Allen’s Mojave Aerospace Ventures to use its technology to develop the world’s first space tourism company. There is always somebody bigger than you are. They are thinking of going there and coming straight back – but shouldn’t we stay there for a few days?
We need to find a few contacts and see how we can enter into a partnership. And in the end, as always, we’ll do things for people. We like doing things for people. We are also people, but there is much more to it than that.