Accumulating and manufacturing


Accumulating and manufacturing are two characteristic activities of current production and lifestyle trends. People tend to accumulate objects that will only be used sporadically, and more often than not may even become useless. A large percentage of the products that we use to build our houses are complex processes that require a great deal of energy to be made. This results in manufactures which are costly from many standpoints. The two practices observed are based on the dynamics of accumulation and wastage of resources, and should therefore not be maintained. They are not sustainable.

The proposal of a house for a young couple without children for Casa Barcelona takes these two observations into account, and proposes a strategy based, on the one hand, on using the minimum amount of material possible to make a house ready to be lived in (basic installations and adaptable textile distribution), and on the other hand on the use of industrialised products (curtains, canvases, moving panels) and the application of traditional systems related to sustainability criteria: the gallery and double wall.

The objective is to propose a house for a young couple (aged 30) without children in which most of the materials used come from simple industrial processes that only require a minimum adaptation to be applied to a house.

The proposal of a flexible distribution and location of the installations must allow this basic house to grow and be completed according to the specific needs of the couple that has to personalise it.

Industrial products
The aim is to leverage the technologies developed by other areas (mainly industrial), with a certain tradition of use and which, while they come from other areas, are tested and proven.

The three industrial products used for the basic configuration are curtains to make divisions directly related to the use of the house, canvases for building a backlit ceiling which will afford the different areas atmosphere, and a system of partition panels that will generate a gallery on the south façade and a storage area on the north façade.

Growth system
The house has a single closed perimeter to the north (opaque) and south (glass), with a basic kitchen and bathroom installation on the shorter facades where the common installations of the building are located and which also act as side walls. The kitchen contains the household appliances for cooking and storing food, the bathroom has the basic sanitary elements, storage is accomplished with simple boxes, the living area has a table and two chairs and the rest area has a bed.
In this first basic stage the backlit textile ceiling will also be installed, which already includes provision for an initial transversal (curtains) and longitudinal (dividing panels) division level.

Once the housing has been occupied, the essential needs of this young couple will gradually develop and will be covered by completing and extending the basic systems initially installed.

In this regard, a second stage will consist of the appearance of the transversal curtains. These curtains delimit four main areas: cooking, eating and living, resting and hygiene. Each one of the curtains adds a technological component to cover the needs of the areas they define perfectly. In the bathroom area, the curtains have components for odour treatment and watertightness; in the rest area, for sound insulation and warm atmosphere; in the living area, for information technology and lighting; in the cooking area these curtains provide insulation from odours, treatment against oil, etc.

A third stage is defined by the use of longitudinal partition panels which create a gallery area onto the south facade and a storage area onto the north facade. This configuration is also related to classic strategies for passively leveraging the external environment.
In this direction, the gallery that looks south becomes a garden-greenhouse or a vegetal façade.

The aim is that people do not have to adapt to a given housed, which normally requires changing and the obsolescence of products and space before they are used.

Quite the opposite, the proposal is that the house should grow as its inhabitants do initially using a minimum number of materials but with the possibility of easy-to-add partitions and accessories that adapt to the specific couple’s lifestyle.

Gang bei ! – The human element


A meal, a dinner in a Chinese restaurant in China. We don’t even remember what we ate. What we haven’t forgotten is the number of times a toast is proposed during a Chinese meal to show appreciation. The key word is gang bei, which is none other than the equivalent to cheers, á votre santé or prost! To your health. As you can imagine, after partaking in such a sociable custom as gang bei quite a few times, you become far more talkative and the sense of perceived wit and relevance reaches new heights. This is when the talk about the project for two towers and adjoining buildings on the banks of the Qiantang in Hangzhou comes to its orchestral climax. Speakers utter a stream of frenzied sentences which never seem to reach a conclusion. These sentences are punctuated by an exact choreography of hands accompanied by a gesticulating of arms, appearing to wave to someone in the distance. But nothing could be further from the truth, because the focus of attention and comments is several drawings and models of the aforementioned towers scaled down from a height of 220 m. These fit quite easily on the table surrounded by clear evidence of a sumptuous meal. Beaming from ear to ear, one of the speakers is saying over and over again how much he likes the shape of the towers and their elusive way of relating to one another. His words are accompanied by an incessant twisting of hands, which reminds one of the diners of a very well-known dance. Suddenly, the word FLAMENCO escapes from his lips. That’s it. It’s just like flamenco. Everything else flows out naturally and thus the buildings become the FLAMENCO TOWERS.
Alongside the technical development and assessment of requirements, the human element or personal relationships turned out to be fundamental to christening the project in such a way that the name itself, FLAMENCO TOWERS, provided new drive and a fresh, energising point of reference for the project. From then on, there was a clear, powerful image which inspired both those who saw the project for the first time and those who were developing it.
The chosen site is the Yangtze River Delta, which is one of the largest urban areas in the world with a population of over 80 million. The region includes two provinces with two of the highest GNPs in the country, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, as well as the municipality of Shanghai, which is the main city in the region. Other important cities are Nanjing and Hangzhou, followed by the smaller Ningbo.
All together, the urban area is made up of 14 municipalities with a high degree of autonomy. Shanghai’s dominance is undisputed, but the other municipalities are continuously competing against each other to attract capital so they can expand. The FLAMENCO TOWERS are in Hangzhou.
Hangzhou lies 180 kilometres southwest of Shanghai and can be reached by road, motorway, or high-speed train. A planned magnetic levitated railway will reduce the journey time between the two cities to 28 minutes and connect Hangzhou to Pudong International Airport.
Being so close to each other has meant Shanghai and Hangzhou have a long tradition of complementing one another – the former as an ideal of urban management and the latter as an example of how to conserve the countryside, culture and history.
In this respect, Hangzhou has committed itself to a brand of urban growth which recognises the value of the countryside and history which have characterised it, particularly as regards its famed West Lake. In order to reduce congestion in the present city centre around the lake, new land has been sought out along the banks of the River Qiantang. The official slogan is Urban development to the east, tourist development to the west. Effort is thus being made to preserve the beauty which attracts over 12 million visitors every year by focussing development along the river in the districts of Binjiang and Xiaoshan. Growth in Binjiang, where the airport is located, is turning the district into a new urban centre, a bridge between Xiaoshan and the city which grew around the West Lake. This is the precise strategic position of FLAMENCO TOWERS.
FLAMENCO TOWERS are planned to be built along the riverside in Binjiang, with their 55 storeys reaching 220 m in height and the 4 storeys underground adding a further 12 m. The project will be carried out in two phases, which together will account for a built-up area of 125,000 m2. One of the initial towers is being developed into a hotel and spa covering 35,000 m2 and the other one will provide a mixture of residential apartments and offices covering 25,000 m2. The plaza which joins the two together will hold a shopping area of over 15,000 m2. The second phase will include four additional residential towers of varying heights covering an area over 48,000 m2, which will form a complex around the towers. The whole complex will be interconnected via the parking facilities and the shopping area.
The final project is not completely etched in stone yet, however. This is where balloons come into the story along with a return to the human element in the shape of the Mayor of Hangzhou. Anxious to preserve its realm, the city’s government is thinking of preventing high buildings from being observed from the lake.  To do so, they have come up with the idea of raising balloons to the same height as the planned towers in the area where they are to be built. If a balloon is seen while a city official is rowing quite peacefully on the lake, then the building has to be a few storeys lower. If nothing is seen, the building can go ahead as planned. We are thus hoping for the city’s characteristic fog to appear, which usually reduces visibility to less than 200 m, so that any of the city’s fathers who happens to be rowing on the lake won’t see the balloon which symbolises FLAMENCO TOWERS. Let’s hope it has the flamenco spirit.

Ceramics in motion for ASCER


When they called us to propose working with ceramics, the first question which came to mind was – What can’t you do with ceramics? It’s most probably a strange question to ask, but that’s what we thought. Anyway, that’s how we started thinking about what a material represents , a material of any type. This led us to believe that materials are pretty real substances which are very reluctant to be absorbed by the latest trends. In other words, there are no old-fashioned, passé or avant-garde materials. However, there are avant-garde, old-fashioned or slipshod uses of materials. Just like people – bad people as such probably don’t exist, but there are horrifying deeds, actions, and attitudes. You may not experience them, but they do exist.
Let’s get to the point – ceramics don’t move. Music can’t be seen. Our dreams won’t come true. We pause to weep for a moment …. Stop now. The Quartet of electric motors in 3.5-1 m, opus 1, known as Ceramics in motion, is a proposed project which gives physical shape to an imaginary mental space in the form of a ceramic surface interpreted by four 1,000 W electric motors which move the surface at a pace of 1 m every 30 seconds. The two front motors move along a space of 3.5 m while the two rear motors move along a space of 1 m. Thus begins a gentle, cyclic choreography confined by the limitations of the material, where the motors play at waiting for one another, at getting ahead and re-finding one another in order to show that ceramics don’t have a fixed time in space either. Now the ceramics move, music becomes visible and a mental space materialises before our very eyes . E pur si muove!

WHERE: Casa Decor 2007. Antigua fábrica Fabra i Coats, Segre 30, 08030 Barcelona.
WHAT IT IS: The ASCER show pavilion.
WHAT IT IS LIKE: A surface of ceramic tesserae which rises and folds on itself with the help of four motors which guide its movement .
There are seven main parts of 92 x 10000 cm, each made up of sub-parts of 92×92 cm in a sequence of 4+2+4. Tesserae have been attached to each of these subparts on 9 30.5×30.5 cm sheets. The substructure of all these main parts and subparts is made up of a 5×5 cm mesh of 4 mm rods soldered together. A 8×40 mm rail has been soldered to this mesh to hold the seven main parts together in a line.
This mesh hangs from 4 pulleys which can hold 1,500 kg each, making a total of 6,000 kg . The pulleys are controlled by an automaton and cover a distance which varies between 3.5 and 1 m. They are situated 4.40 m above the ground on a steel trestle made of 4 HEB-300 pillars and 4 IPE-300 beams. Just to make really sure.
This whole framework forms a structure of 22,680 tesserae with 13,608 more tesserae attached directly to the ground, making a total of 36,288 tesserae . Each one of them is 50×50 mm in MC-19 white, is called Logos and is made by Equipe.

Manila shawl Plus



Where are you going in a Manila shawl?
Where are you going in a chiné dress?

To show myself off and see the verbena,
and later go off to my bed.

And why did you not come with me
after I pleaded with you so much?

Because I am going to pay at the chemist’s
for the things you made me suffer.

And who is that most handsome lad
you’re going out with afterwards?

A person of dignity and
honour who is just how he should be.

And what if it didn’t please me
for you to take his arm?

Then I’d go with him to the verbena
and to the bullfight at Carabanchel.

That so? We’ll see about that right now.

(He throw himself at Hilarión to beat him,
the girls hold him back and shout.)
Manila Shawl, to show off and see the verbena.

Where are you going in a manila shawl? Well … The history of the Manila Shawl is the story of a one-way journey which now returns as the thread of a song. Where are you going in a chiné dress? Because …. the Manila Shawl is the story of a journey and is also the story of how cultures very distant in time and space are able to communicate with another and exchange characteristics. Manila Shawl displays a surprising link between the most immemorial of Chinese traditions and one of the most authentic Spanish garments. In the 16th century Spanish merchants in Manila were fascinated by the silk shawls brought by Chinese merchants and shipped them to Spain along the Philippines-Seville sea route via Acapulco. From that moment on these garments, originally Chinese, became known throughout the world as Spanish shawls or Manila shawls. The world is all mixed up and turned inside out, a perfect hybrid where flower motifs grow in size and adapt to the native flora with roses, irises, carnations, sunflowers … and lotus, so as not to lose the hint of the orient which gave, gives and will continue to give it an exotic touch which its success is based on. Because, after all, that Manila Shawl does want to go to the Shanghai Expo in 2010 to show itself off and see the verbena and perhaps not go off to its bed later.

Silk Fabric, construction and post-Expo strategy
The long voyage started with ancient technology which extracted threads from the cocoons made by silkworm larvae without damaging them. Here it has now become a process where a modular, prefabricated fabric is produced. The structured surface is based on hendecagons which form a grid over spaces. A series of equal-sized pieces made of thin metal bars make up the structural space of the building, walls, framing and supports. The hendecagons are webbed over with aluminium and glass panels on the outside, thus showing the structural fabric on the inside of the building. The result is a surface which on the outside imitates the sensual movement of a Manila Shawl draped over the shoulders of a gracefully dressed Sevillana woman, now crystallising in a texture which suddenly vibrates due to its way of reflecting light.
The building uses a prefabricated system with individual pieces being assembled on site. This enables thorough checks to be carried out and work to be completed very quickly while also allowing the building to be taken down without damage to its parts once the event has finished. In order to recycle the raw material used, there is a scheme to reuse the hendecagons in structures throughout Spain once the exhibition is finished, something which is possible thanks to the system’s versatility.  They could end up part of a sculpture on a roundabout, a bus shelter, a tourist office, or a sports centre.

Shanghai Expo 2010. In operation.
The proposed building will be built on the Expo site and will provide a large amount of shade to protect the public area and the more public, more animated areas of the exhibition. Wide escalators will take the visitor up to the upper level, which houses a large, transverse atrium which overlooks the river. The atrium leads to three large areas. On one side are three exhibition halls –  a fourth hall is situated on the ground floor to enable visitors to tour all four by walking around from the inside to the outside or the other way round. On another side are the smaller rooms for facilities such as offices, storerooms, toilets and changing rooms. The remaining side houses another escalator to access the top level, a large balcony overlooking the atrium which sometimes acts as a foyer for the function, press and multipurpose rooms. The function room can be merged with the press room to create a large open room surrounded by vibrant roof pillars.

Memoria centro interpretación Palma


Mediterranean Sea
Latitude: 39.35 N
Longitude: 2.39 E
Palma de Mallorca
Balearic Archipelago

The new Centre of Interpretation in Palma’s old town and its link to the open public space of El Baluarte del Príncipe and the Porta d’es Camp Square rise up from the sea shore, just as they were conceived.
The Centre of Interpretation seeks to be part of the shore and thus takes reference from purity and innocence barely 120 metres away – from the delight of a few children crouching down, fascinated as they observe how the waves cross the sand around shells they have carefully placed in the wet ground after satisfying their eager desire to collect surprisingly similar, yet surprisingly different mysterious objects.

The stretch of land is furrowed by a hollow which crosses Gabriel Alomar Vilallonga Avenue diagonally to reach Baluarte del Príncipe. The hollow thus forms a very natural link between these two elements in such a way that the link becomes a new area of activity between the three centres being developed. It is accessed from the sea front via a gentle ramp, thus avoiding a strenuous climb of 2m. On the city side of the hollow, partially covered and on the exterior, are the Visitors’ Welcome Centre and the Centre of Interpretation. Here use is made of the difference in height between the sea front and Joan Maragall street to offer a large reception area and a direct link via escalators and lifts to Joan Maragall street, from where the centre can also be entered directly from the city itself. This side also houses the Palma Observatory Headquarters, an independent institution, but directly related to the two other centres.
On the sea side of the hollow is the Centre for Enterprises and Commercial Innovation, which includes its two more open spaces on the lower level and its more compartmentalised ones above street level along the sea front. However, the top only just reaches the height of Joan Maragall street, meaning it boasts sea views from the upper level of the premises.
The lower level offers a large parking area for cars and buses, which is directly linked by stairs and lifts to the foyers in the different centres.

The fascination of the children, some inhabitants of the old city, some visitors who stroll through the upper streets of the city, others travellers who fly over the city, or users who look to the sky through shells with the same fascination, all see how an amalgamation of mysterious pieces sketched by Haeckel, similar, yet all different, cover a dynamic, interconnected, harmonised space which lets the light from the Mediterranean filter through between its ribs.

Alísia, money is no problem


Relax! I relax. Breathe deeply! I breathe deeply I haul myself up and wham! I’m inside. Not such a big deal. I sit on a swivel stool and wait, passing the time browsing through a little advertising and drops in interest rates. I look at myself in the polished walls, so very shiny that they reflect back an image which looks a little enlarged to me. There’s a trick to this. I don’t think I’m that big. I swing round on the stool again and can’t stop myself from shouting out Three pints, 35,000 pounds and a packet of crisps, John. In the background I think I can hear the all-familiar “Coming up!” from further down the bar. Well, the truth is, after the beer and the packet of crisps, my three-figure order means I have to sit down on a levitating sofa, which carries me up to a cloud where I relax. Relaaax. One of John’s female colleagues talks to me seductively and I can only agree and ask four insignificant questions. Well, that’s what I believed, but what do you know? One of them made Alí$ia smile. That’s how I like to remember what she is called. She invited me to enter a large armchair – yes, enter – which encircled me, her and somebody else who was taking notes. All settled nicely down inside, we finished doing what needed to be done and everybody was satisfied. So, it was already quite clear to me that money, money in the strictest of sense of the word, is no problem.

El chotis del feo aka the ugly man’s Schottische


My turn to dance with ugliest girl at the ball again. Pluck up courage and put on a brave face. When things are left half done, they need to be completed, changed around and have a cherry placed on top, always a morello. More hotels. We can hear the till ringing. Unbelievable. Begrudgingly we watched how the ugliest guys managed to get all the prettiest girls, Agustin Lara and someone called Sinatra. Bankcards slide easily across the slot at the point of sale terminal. Me, on the other hand, the Gran, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, am left with my tongue hanging out. Put it back in, you pleb.
As always, little can be touched, little can be changed, but everything has to look different, neat and functional. Sheesh, what a load of rubbish. We ask ourselves, why they don’t knock on our door before coming in, instead of going around looking for something they’ll have to change later? I’ve seen fat guys and thin guys use my talent, like walking arm-in-arm with a monument. I’d love to be ugly, so I could parade down the street with a sweet baby on my arm.
Here we find ourselves in a solid building which is pure Madrid, very Castillian brick. Time decided to brick in with a pavilion tacked over several floors. A big surprise and a frown, what do you expect from a client who walks in carrying their own supplies? That’s enough! I like to get things in order. Something else. I don’t whether it’s a good or bad thing, but for dining they intend to have a lounge with no sunlight, no air, nothing. They call it El Atemporal due to its lack of seasons, of fallen leaves, blooming flowers, warbling birds, and bawling taxi drivers. A cave, shelter from a non-existent war, with no wailing sirens, or thundering planes. And the famous expression goes “From Madrid to the heavens”. More floors there are sure to be. Go upstairs? No, that’s enough for today. I’m going to find myself a cosmetic surgeon. One who will change my angelic features. With my new face I’ll certainly be able to show off the sweetest babies on my arm and women will say I’m an Adonis when I dance a perfect Schottische with them tightly around a brick.
Although science is advancing at an incredible rate, inspiration comes from strolling around. And there it is, the Gate of Alcalá. You can’t miss it. There’s no getting rid of it, just like a traffic policeman stranded and useless on his stand. He keeps waving his arms. Fitful, phlegmatic. Touristy, picturesque, we draw near and the electronic buzz of a cash register can be heard again. What progress! Anyway, the council provides us with subterranean passageways. The car is king. Let it drive on. Great to arrive at the Retiro, a park in the centre! Very Madrid, very Sunday strollers. Well, picturesque, recently very varied and cosmopolitan.  Artists with a stuck-on smile. Over-photographed, overheated costumes. A little dusty in summer, dry soil, fine sand. Unlike when it rains – be careful of the mud.

Take adequate precautionary measures at Casa Garriga


We steal up to the Casa Garriga at an unusual time of day to avoid certain type of revenge from clients who are understandably somewhat annoyed. In a profession which manages its fees with dubious efficiency, showing off the architect’s curriculum has become one of the profession’s chief incentives. If he or she doesn’t know how to get paid well, at least they have the consolation prize of being photographed a great deal and becoming more widely known. But when the client, poor thing, decides to hinder such a modest display of egocentricity so natural to the decadent aristocracy of our profession, poor things, some of us architects suffer from the consequences of rabid convulsions. Sometimes these convulsions are assuaged by deliberately delaying an all-important signature on official certificates, meaning the client will remember us for a very long time. However, this may lead to the danger one day they will catch us trying to show the building to a colleague or an architecture critic. In such cases people become very creative and resort to dissuasive techniques of an extremely varied nature. In the case of the Casa Garriga such revenge materialised in the form of a hosepipe issuing a surprisingly highly pressurised jet of water. It’s clear we did something not only badly, but very badly indeed – we did not take adequate precautionary measures. Such a blunder is completely unacceptable.

Dong Si


Action! The new Běijīng of businesses, consumers and feelings of fascination and mistrust towards the West comes across as something between arrogant and resolute on the little streets which lead to the so-called sìhéyuàn, enclosed patios between little houses which are grouped around alleyways called hútòng. The city’s underground system is expanding and wants to build shopping centres above its stations to take advantage of the crowds passing through. Nobody needs to be reminded of the economic implications, but the urban planning and architectural ones are another story.
People with recognised influence and manifest executive capacity propose Běijīng’s imperial character as a starting point for designing the new building. There are many chiefs and many interests. We will clearly have to think very carefully before stating our point of view. Our skills and prestige are what brought us to take part in the project, but we tend to work the other way round and our proposals take everybody’s point of view into account.
While adopting a show of humility so common in traditional Chinese culture, but forgotten in the present day, from here on the great buildings in the city begin to look at us. We thus slightly redraft a classical way of understanding things for them. Imperial? The Hall of Supreme Harmony, ‘tài hé diàn’, located in the Forbidden City, ‘zi jìn chéng’ (literally ‘Purple Forbidden City’).
Drafting provides enough freedom to make it evident that influences are strong. We lift up the points of the roofs to sharpen our views, intimating that the expanse of tiles could be a sheet under which all of us can play at being the little ghost. However, ‘imperial’ implies weight, inflexibility and that reminds us. So we listen again to what the place will be used for and thus, just as rushes bend with the wind, we agree while sneaking a glance at the grid of nervous hútòng alleyways. The scheme will try to satisfy the relentlessly repeated demands to build according to conventional models, but while also partially retaining the appearance of the traditional hútòng. In elevation the porticos show their imposing, imperial face and are positioned on the ground along lines which find inspiration in the city’s traditional urban planning. This hidden contribution is a layout which emerges both from tradition and from the need to seek out the structure of the underground station already under construction and above which the building will appear. The new porticos have several workable positions and many unviable ones, resulting in a dance which will look to the hútòng to establish order.

Frankie’s chronology


081004 Melting pot. It all began when we realised that a lot of cutlery had been made throughout history. And a lot of it was good. We were struck by a major doubt about what strategy to follow – to design and manufacture – which was what was expected of us – or to pick and choose, thus accepting that part of our job had perhaps already been done for us. An idea was proposed and given the name optimum cutlery. This involved choosing the best pieces of cutlery for each meal – regardless of the brand or designer – and putting all of them together in one collection. They would all have different designs; and would all be equally ideal. A melting pot.

141004 A history of cutlery. Of course, it seemed like we weren’t going to be doing anything at all. But, in truth, the topic had caught our interest. We decided to research what cutlery was really about. Initially, we discovered that from a western perspective cutlery began with spoons, followed by knives, and later a second knife to stop steaks from sliding off the plate. It was only then the fork only emerged. 

191004 On order, limits and singularity. Whilst immersed in cutlery, we also started to think about bowls and other receptacles. So we looked into where food was laid out on a plate or tray, how it disappeared from the plate – and into our mouths – or how the food that nobody wanted was left on a tray. Has anyone ever noticed what a table looks like when a meal has finished, but the plates remain behind? Look at the photos again. At this stage we also dealt with the problem caused by mass production when trying to create a unique piece. Everybody likes to have something different.

101004 Presentation to FA. Well, we had to present our enquiries and proposals to the master chef Ferran Adrià (henceforth FA). We arrived in his laboratory with a collection we had already created called Técnica. We also presented the Optimum Collection, mentioned above. We discussed bowls and serving surfaces too. 

151104 The meeting-Frankenstein. This time we met in our LAB, our workshop. We had a not inconsiderable number of pieces of cutlery of all sizes, quite a lot of materials (although steel was the most predominant) and various colours. The cutlery was spread out over the tables and we began to examine it with the help of Marc Cuspinera and Damián García Puig on behalf of the FA team; Miquel Cunill, silversmith; and Neus Canals. Marc argued – imitating a voracious swallower of soups – that we had to study the use of the pieces and he questioned the current trend of increasing the size of cutlery. Someone said that a piece should be associated with a concept, that it should be pretty and simple but with some kind of idea behind it. Others simply helped by proposing that it should be the best cutlery in the market. Very good. As the option of studying the pieces gained points for being productive and enjoyable, comments began to be made. This piece was comfortable, the other was the right size, the one over there was lightweight, etc. Yes, all of these were good things, but put together in one piece they ended up looking like an image of Frankenstein. This was a clue. 

161104 What we are eating. Besides having made a collection of the most outstanding pieces, we began to think about our daily reality. The world of set menus, fast food, intimate dinners with a few friends and large festive meals, or visits to a Michelin star restaurant. We then moved on to discuss different ways of ingesting a dish and the different accessories we use, which depend on the place, the type of meal and even the time of day. We also focused on the menu itself – what is eaten in prison, how saline solution is inserted in hospital patients, what the restaurant on the corner offers you for lunch everyday. 

221104 Evolution of the species-Part II. Well, we needed to discover the features of the new pieces, find out why we would want to use them. So we decided to look at the way different cultures handled food at meal times in traditional practices such as feng shui and kashrut, and thought about whether we should consider different ways of eating well-known dishes. Perhaps spoon-knife-fork are not the most appropriate pieces for some specific food activities – maybe a sponge could be used to mop up sauce without putting on weight?

101204 Reinventing garlic soup. Food is not for playing with, that much we were sure. We decided once and for all to search for perfect features in the world’s cutlery. Analyse the best pieces in order to separate and examine their characteristics. It seemed like a reasonable way to reinvent something as simple as garlic soup. 

151204 Presentation of plan-fusion cutlery. Fusion was a bad name, but it described the process we had followed. Technical analyses had led to a piece with perfect proportions and a perfect shape. However, it was somewhat soulless. The search for references and features from other pieces, a happy mixture, gave it a touch of vital spirit.  Therefore- pure form + mixture = new cutlery

151204 *Knife fusion. We created a power point presentation to explain all this.

151204 *Cutlery in space. Not only did we examine cutlery and its uses in other cultures, but we also considered how the process of eating would be approached in an extreme situation, which was physically distinct from our daily worldly habits. This investigation led to results that were mainly based on images, so we decided to create another power point presentation.

201204 Neobaroque meeting. This time FA received us in a little chapel that he has inside his laboratory – a chapel or a chapterhouse. Incredible. He looked at the pieces and pointed out that the design was perhaps a bit too Vinçon, the design shop, but that he also had an Aunt Maria who watched soap operas. Vinçon clients could be his customers too. Inspired by the room, with its walls covered in carved wood, he remembers a hotel in a distant city, and brings up the subject of the baroque, of decoration. This gives rise to the idea of engraving, of tattooing as a way of treating the cutlery’s surface. Put some patterns on the spoon, love.

240105 List of gadgets. When you are stuck on an idea, it helps to take a step well back and to act rather than to think. We began to draw up a list of possible gadgets, highly specialised accessories for different aspects of the art of good eating. These gadgets were divided into two major groups – those that were ingenious and those that were absolutely ludicrous and worthy of being published in a magazine about crazy inventions. The first group aimed to solve problems such as how to eat a soup or control the temperature of ready made foods in an uncomplicated fashion. A combination of improbable foods with nonsensical mechanics predominated in the second group of eccentric gadgets.

010205 Report on cutlery. To fulfil our duties to the press, we had to compile a report which we called God-given cutlery. The name was chosen as the cutlery mixes a basically technical process with frequent touches of tradition – this mix gives the pieces a human feel.

010205 Gadgets. We looked for existing gadgets in the world of cuisine, drawing up a list that ranged from the spaghetti server to the corkscrew.

210205 *Laying the table. Searching for clues in the position of cutlery, we devoted a few days to studying the protocol of laying a table, to see what emerged. Well, if nothing else, we at least learnt good table manners.

220205 Frankenstein de Luxe. We began to try to find a definition by putting together phrases, looking for adjectives and examining the monster’s anatomy. 

220205 The definition. In the end we came up with a definition that has a little bit of dictionary and not too much colloquial about it. That is more or less where it stands. It is one of those definitions that help the construction process, because you carry on creating and want to know what you are holding in your hands. If it’s a bomb, it could explode.

210505 CV Faces MDM. Due to all that stuff about the glamour of the creator, a word that we have vetoed at EQUIP, they asked us for a biographical description. The first attempt for Miquel de Mas went something like I didn’t talk much before…

210505 CV Faces XCL. The same went for Xavier Claramunt, who, in a statement somewhere between provocative and disastrous said I don’t have a fridge… to finish, after listing the thousand and one fears of any mother-in-law, with total cheek saying that …it’s called adaptability.  

060606 CF Faces combined. It didn’t seem to be a good idea to describe ourselves separately, so they asked us to combine the biographies in the two languages which we use so frequently – Spanish and Catalan. Things were not looking good.

140605 Each person counts – 1 to 9. As it was not clear why pieces of cutlery come in specific numbers, we began to work with unusual groupings. Why is two a unit ? Why half a dozen? We found ways of counting in the world that have innumerable bases other than 10 or 6. This turned into a social and economic reflection on how the pieces of cutlery would be sold, in groups of how many.

140605 *The number 9. To explain ourselves better we drew up a power point presentation on the different ways of counting that have existed in the world. It was a light piece of work, with no scientific pretensions. As we do not know much about the topic, a simple collection of picture cards gave us some clues. What clues!

140605 *The packaging. If there was controversy about the maximum and minimum number of pieces in a set, imagine the discussion on how the cutlery would be presented to the clients. Should we use boxes? Or cases? They did not pay much attention to us on this point. We drew up another power point, for our eyes only. A piece of work exclusively for internal use.

210905 CV Faces 2. As it was impossible to get their approval for our proposed biographies, we had to keep working on our definition. At this point we only suggested joint descriptions; one of them said I am Francesc Xavier Claramunt Domènech – up and running. For Miquel there was an extremely modest I was born in Barcelona 30 years ago – good. But they did not like this either.

210905 Definition of the collection. Now the name Frankie appeared for the first time. It ended up losing the final e to become a pleasant Franki.

260905 Joint CV. We went back to the task of our biographies and this time a we were born 40 and 30 years ago respectively… would mark a downright failure in communications.

260905 Neus defines us. The business people finally took firm control and resolved the issue with a webfooted stroke of the pen in the style – They have shared a studio for many years… 

291105 Dear Anatxu. We then got in touch with a friend from the press, more precisely the architectural press, and sent her a letter to tell her about Franki and as a footnote invited her to the presentation which was going to be held in Madrid, the capital of Spain.

261006 Frankie’s chronology. That is what I am.

Origin regained


The sea, the seashore, the trees approaching the seashore… And the human being. We can imagine once upon a time when we humans were active part of the harmonious life of the island. But know things have changed, and the original agreeable relation between island and man has turned into an arrogant control of the second over the island.

Along the different stages for refurbishing and extending the Maricel Hotel, we have been pursuing a recovering of memorable and desirable original scenarios. On the first intervention we tried to make clear that the sea was there. Now, with this extension, the aim is to regain the trees and dry stonewalls that have been part of the environmental history of Majorca.

Maricel Hotel was built in 1948 as one of the first hotels specially designed for tourists. Thanks to his privileged situation, it was easy to extend its facilities towards the sea with terraces as a giant’s stair to the water. On this stage, the building first opened itself over areas more related to these terraces and the sea, using a series of arcades to enlarge the basement and focus it on the rocky seashore. You enter the hotel and find yourself intertwined with a scenography of sliding doors and evading walls, rhythmically placed to allure the sea into the building. This new arrangement treats the sunlight in a way that triggers you to walk with increasing intensity towards the sea.
This first aim was to recreate an atmosphere not far from the little caves and rocky shelters that are easily found all over the Mediterranean coast. Make clear that the Mediterranean is there, through filters, terraces and the new orientation for the swimming pool. REGAIN THE SEA.

The extension is to be built on two plots placed just in front of the original building. The main issues are how to connect, across the public street, and how to deal with the urban surroundings. In that direction, the extension seeks to stress the importance of the original building as main entrance and to establish an access to the new areas capable of generating an alternative context to the existing urban development.
The new situation is rearranged as a valley that makes its way recovering the technique of the so call marjades, the terraces used on traditional agriculture activities in Majorca. Creating these new marjades, the valley moves ahead connecting the new areas to the main building. Dry stonewalls deal with the soil on how to settle on the new areas. Sometimes, they both agree simply with slopes, sometimes, likewise the terraces that the main building uses as a solarium on its way to the sea, the valley sculpts the soil with marjades. Solid and vernacular dry stonewalls that give a desirable environment, detached from the constructions neighbouring the extensions.
Finally, we manage to stay just aware of trees and sky. RECOVERING THE FOREST, the forest that grows along a dreamed brook driving us away from the sea. As a casual path, we walk on a winding course that turns here and there carving the soil to allow entrance to the new buildings. We enter close to the ground but immediately we climb up those buildings conceived as vantage points where to place the rooms oriented to the sea. Regaining the forest, but again the sea.

Romeo and Juliet


Juliet dances and shows herself off. Juliet knows very well how to use the light the sun bestows upon her. Romeo says nothing. Juliet goes out by day when the light from the Sun can play across her body adorned with cornices, pediments and scrolls. By day Juliet lifts her faces to follow the Sun, exhibiting recently restored shades of time-honoured voluptuousness to recapture poise and self-assurance. Romeo says nothing. Romeo looks on and adores her. Romeo waits. Juliet is somebody. Romeo is nobody. Romeo waits, hieratic, impassive, as cold as ice, generously reflecting all the light towards her. She knows how to use it, to channel it through the gullies of her sensuality, taming it as she twists and sending it to sleep in her refuge. For Romeo it is enough just to enjoy the spectacle which every day and any day performs upon Juliet. After the unintelligible, wild light has played across her body, it is transformed and bounces back in the form of audible words.
Romeo is waiting his turn, which arrives as night falls. As Juliet runs out of fabric to weave her tangle of seduction, Romeo takes on a more central role. Adieu Sun, welcome the night. Romeo is sombre, pure, he emits a light which looks out timorously from beneath different masks. When the Sun abandons its place in the sky, light has to be created. Romeo undertakes to provide it and in doing so, he reveals himself to us. While Juliet swirled, he had to content himself with just watching her, but now he makes himself heard, emitting beams of light which reveal his essence in layers. Since Romeo is mere air, light from between curtains and from amongst stones of marble, which fruitlessly try to capture such precious light as night falls. It all slips away. Luminous clouds cross wooden surfaces, translucent across marble, unravelling themselves to meet Juliet and ask her to enslave them, offering themselves as a sacrifice to invoke the rebirth of her voluptuous display which they long for. Their endeavour is as enthusiastic as it is futile, but they know an impossible outcome will not stop them from trying. The suicidal light throws itself out following the capricious trace of the vines, explodes across the marble surface and emerges diffused from the water, flowing from shallow depths. It is all in vain. Juliet only dances beneath the Sun and knows not what to do with such a crazed outburst from Romeo. The only way she so sweetly responds is by letting herself be loved.
Romeo is nobody. Romeo is simply a longing to communicate with Juliet, a desire, the submission of a grateful observer of her display.
For Romeo is the interior, light trapped in a maze of marble, crystal glass which tinkles, cloths which swirl and wood which caresses visions. Something which was a lifeless muddle of textures filters into an ephemeral hint of fleeing light. Romeo is generous and reciprocates Juliet’s daytime display, but in his own way. He seeks to draw her closer, entwine his arms around her shoulders and embrace her. Beneath the enchanted waters of the lakes, Romeo glides across to find her and to brush against her tiny feet, though it may be the only thing he manages to do. Oh Juliet. Romeo whistles little sparkles which in turn whisper to the scrolls, cornices and borders as they slumber, whisper to let them know the day will return tomorrow and they can shine in a frenzy once more. But for now they must be patient and let themselves be loved, though it may only be briefly. And she accepts, not moving her feet away, and discovers her shoulders to feel the touch of his tendril-like hands. For Juliet is mischievous by day, but silent by night.

The Chameleon Effect


Amongst living beings there are those who live in groups, amongst equals. Others are lone, solitary beings.  The equals try very hard to be noticed in the presence of the others – in order to live they need to be one amongst many. The lone ones tend to camouflage themselves against the background, for safety reasons, to surprise their prey. Some are even capable of changing their outward appearance, of transforming their image in a way which suits them most in order to go unnoticed, to blend in with the moment and the place. This is a strategy.
In BT a paradoxical hybridisation has been developed between this strategy and living within a group of stores in a shopping centre. A translucent, interior surface has been chosen which is able to change its light properties like someone who is mirroring the light of day. The varying nature of the surface as the hours go by individualises the space in contrast to its inalterable neighbours, which maintain a constant appearance. This process constructs a repeated retail space of fixed dimensions, but attracts our attention during the morning, along the day and through the night.
The variation of light and its impersonation of daylight become a brand image. Luminous qualities take the place of furniture, objects and names. Identification comes from the atmosphere and not from something tangible.
This time round the animal is characterised by several translucent modular structures in aluminium and polycarbonate which house the whole radiant morass.  The minimal L-shape form of these units creates illuminated surrounds covering the walls and ceiling. The way they are fitted is not so important, as they are always adapted to the given space in the store in question, to characteristics such as the store’s ability to control the light which dominates the atmosphere and to draw in passers-by from the outside.

Homs el Born


El Born is a part of the city lined with narrow streets and alleyways, the only space where the densely packed old part of town allows people to move freely. A structure with medieval origins stands on a site where knights competed in tournaments, from which the district got its name, and where a covered market was later established by opening up a large square. Selling on the street is done differently – a stall, a street market, illegal street vendors, a stand amidst the to-ing and fro-ing, hawkers which use the ground to show off their wares. We find ourselves in the busiest part of the area where there are unexpected narrow alleyways which the sun can barely reach. We have now moved on from the former market to the assortment of shops facing out to the street. 
All these ideas led us to create a new kind of street, a space where people come and go, a hidden alleyway with a street market, a place for commerce. Sales are transacted in this shop which connects two different streets, a passageway signposted in large, bright letters. Theses give it an identity and once in place on the inside they establish a space and create a layout suitable for exchange, for trade.
Minimum intervention was required. The number of arched hollows in the façades increases in the calles de Esparteria and del Bonaire, meaning that even when the shop is closed you can pass from one street to the next. The ceiling’s Catalan vault and beam structure was left bare and was painted black just like the cast-iron pillars which hold it up. The existing concrete flooring was simply cleaned, cleared of obstacles and the problem of a continuous line on one of the side walls was solved by painting a graffiti mural in large letters. The other side accommodates the bathrooms and a small storeroom and the stone in the wall has been left bare as a finish. A contrast is thus made between the two sides with the continuity of the graffiti on the other wall highlighted above the flooring.
This is the flooring where clothes on sale can be displayed on carpets of metal-sheeting, a part of tubular structures which can be laid out at will. The layout for these structures will be determined by large luminous letters whose displaced shadow could very well be graffiti stretching over the floor and wall. Each one of the letters is made up of a tubular steel structure covered at the sides by a stainless steel sheets with open welded joints, leaving the two main sides of each letter to be completed with a methacrylate sheet on which stamped vinyl will be attached to give it a final finish.
One of the letters is mounted on sturdy wheels so it can be taken to the entrance and show one of its sides to the street. Looking as if they had fallen from an enormous imaginary luminous sign, the letters provide an advertisement to the outside as well as lighting and a definition for the layout for the space inside.

Hairdresser Effect


A mirror looks, but you can only tell by looking into it. When conspiratorial glances become established between two mirrors, an endless process is triggered off where the subject-object dichotomy loses its meaning and enters into an infinite repetition where the two merge into one. When two mirrors feel close to one another, it’s natural for them to be tempted to face one another. The fact something becomes entrapped within their game shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s the Hairdresser Effect, an endless illusion of an object or place entrapped between two mirrors which are looking at one another.
A small store for glassware is traversed by illusory holes, perforations intimated by pairs of mirrors which look into each other, look back and then look again. Several red glass screens join in the game of glances by compartmentalising the mirrors while perturbing the sense of space. They form warm shafts of light which stretch out beyond the range of visual perception.
The street is reflected inside, reproducing itself at the back of the space thanks to mirrors which have sought their partner on the outside. But we are the only ones who can be this pair, who look at each other and recognise ourselves in such an undefined place. What we thought was a small shop, we discover on entering is something which has reinvented itself as an illusion of a high building.
The mirrors dictate all the rules on the inside as well as offer a blueprint for the building work. Thus circular stainless steel frames contain the mirrors, hold the red glass screens, mark out the showroom space and create a layout, which the metal staircase uses to become enveloped in the sheeted panels and climb up to the first floor.

Sewing and singing


Sometimes, but only sometimes, things are much more straightforward than they look. Others are and even look as though they are. Here you have us in a former factory complex originally used by furriers and now – or more precisely, for quite some time now – has become a hive crawling with designers, architects, graphic artists, photographers and, wait for it, knowledge managers. The last profession in the list is indeed a ray of hope for this territory of ours of hopeless administrators, with those they manage being even worse. In the midst of such a rabble, a mess not even a pimp can understand, we receive an assignment which isn’t one as such, but will bring us fame and recognition. What we mean is a fame of the short-lived type at the family dinner table which we won’t make a penny from.
Well, let’s get back to what we were saying. If things aren’t straightforward sometimes, just sometimes, you have to make them straightforward.
We are standing on the top floor of a building in a turn-of-the-century factory complex. Due to its original use this is a space large, rectangular space with ceilings several metres high, windows in the two long walls running from east to west and a floor which has more pot holes than Barcelona beach after a trendy, all-night rave. As we are such smart asses and the right amount of pretension is just for show to the outside world, we are left with what is of interest to us. What we don’t like, we concrete over.
The first task was to create a new floor over the existing one, this time an even surface, a characteristic generally well appreciated by the majority of the population. The second was a drastic, but faultless decision – divide the space into as many different areas of use as we’d been asked to. Thus an area for graphic design was created and second one for a photographer’s studio, both separated by a raised platform towards the photographer’s studio. This raised platform institutionalised such a popular, but badly paid profession, also considered one of the worst due to its condition of a constant voyeur, or snooper.
But that’s where our hopes were dashed. Without getting told off, we realised that nothing was so straightforward. A response, however, had to be given to the basic needs of the new functions. Segregable spaces were required, areas which could be made private and offer visual control of those entering…. but every cloud has a silver lining. That’s if it had ever been bad and not the result of our slothful inertia. We started mumbling tavern songs. We adjusted the stand a little and, now with just the right touch of pretension, a bulb lights us up. Well, it was more of a flash, and what it did was dazzle us. Damn it.
Two basic areas needed to be created – for graphics and photography – but with the aim of conserving the sense of spaciousness. The main strategy consisted in defining the different work areas in a subtle way, providing them with the required infrastructure without interfering with the extensive perception of the space. To do so, one, two, three movements were proposed.

One – The floor in the main room is paved with wood in three rectangular areas. The electricity and IT sockets are begging to colonised by tables. These tables are large, metal structures on which lit computer screens are placed. Although not being used as a work tool, they give the impression of activity, something pleasing to the clients’ eye. The absence of infrastructures in the central strip determines it be kept as a broad walkway which leads from the entrance to the photography studio.
The imperative need to have spaces with more privacy for meetings and to cosset the hierarchical structure meant the petrified wood flooring would fold upwards to surround and privatise. The wall coverings from the cubicles which emerged were finished with glass panels, so as not to obstruct the light coming in from the windows and to still be able to see the original factory walls. It’s a little as if you lift up the carpet and crawl underneath, whether to debate thorny issues, or because you are tired of the hassles from your colleague at the work desk. Providing it’s not full of the filth people tend to sweep away far from the sight of others, of course.

Two. A pair of curtains. It seemed to a subtle enough way to partially segregate areas – not permanently, not completely, but as desired. Two ellipses made of velvet hang from the ceiling. One of them protects you from the gaze of newcomers once they have crossed the entrance threshold. Likewise, it helps such visitors to discover the space little by little – there is always the suspicion that there must be something behind a curtain and even more so behind one hanging from such a height. Very few can resist the temptation to gently draw back the velvet and venture into the space behind. Well, the idea of “venturing” is relative, because there isn’t really much danger as such. On the other side the central wooden aisle stretches out obstacle-free with the cubicles and worktables side by side. At the end there is the hint of what appears to be an attempt at a second velvet ellipse.

Here is number three, the stands. As the photography studio calls for different light and sound conditions to those required by graphic design work and administration, there is a definite segregation between the two spaces. Use is made of this need to build stands, which turns their back on the first space and blatantly look at the photographed subjects. The second ellipse appears once more in this second space, giving a certain sense of intimacy to the mirrors where the photogenic subjects, make-up and clothing are prepared. Once dressed up, they come out to be immortalised, shamelessly dressed, as is the custom at present, while they are observed from the slope with none too few rather more basic thoughts.
Three, four and maaaaambo. Ah ha!

Kaos Lamp


Click. Nothing over here, nothing over there. I can see, but I don’t quite understand.  But who wants to understand? It’s not a lamp, it’s light.  Pure and simple – when activated, it lights up objects and makes them visible. There is no defined shape, nor a privileged point of view. It lights you up in as many ways as you are able to look at it. It coyly hides its face, even from the photographer who is trying to find the ideal profile for a catalogue portrait – click, click, click.
Composed of two parts, which once switched on – click – fuse into one luminous cloud which appears to have no source. The illuminated part is a piece of glass with an elliptic base, which contorts itself through 90 degrees while diminishing in size to become a smaller ellipse, unrestricted by shape and form. The base is made of white ceramic which disappearsclick – when it gives off light.
Click and a cloud of light was created.



A headlight is taken from a car with a retro look from an era which never really existed. The headlight is co-copied completely freely to adorn a light bulb with a smelted aluminium keel. The project, however, required a more practical co-copy of a different, spotlight made of plastic, supposedly a best-seller, and this was dutifully taken into account during the design process. Clairvoyant minds counselled by advice from anonymous visionaries came to the fleeting conclusion that plastic looks cheap and the material must be upgraded to a higher category. This is when the aluminium casting comes back in. Although this technique remodels the design, the light is unable to disown its origins in an imaginary glutinous substance of plastic.

Who’s the Princess?


Does anyone actually know if there was a real princess behind the name of the well-known Barcelona street, Calle de la Princesa ? Of course there was, H. R. H. Isabel de Borbón y Borbón, Princess of Asturias, a twice recognized first heir to the throne of Spain who never actually reigned. She knew very well the difference between a stately queen and a princess of the people and she was very much the latter. A true people’s princess who became very popular, pure Madrid, the city which nicknamed her “la chata”. If we come back to Barcelona, a city with the noble title of Condal incidentally, a very non-specific name was given to the street which followed on from Calle Fernando – De la Princesa, or Princess Street. The decision was probably inspired by a touch of republicanism. Using such a non-specific name avoided saying which of the many well-known princesses it so graciously referred to. It’s not a bad way of giving a nod to all those playing a minor role throughout history, a practical solution which appeases everybody – streets, avenues and drives named after unspecified generals, primates and supreme commanders. When you come up against so many different interests, a right balance must be struck where you will unavoidably annoy everybody to a certain extent, but you don’t lose sense of what you want to achieve. In other words, the same applies to everybody, lump it or like it.
Where Calle de la Princesa meets the Ciutadella Park, the first floor of a solemn, bourgeoisie type building is being transformed into a hotel. A wide marble staircase takes us up to what was once a luxurious residence and later was uncompromisingly converted into a school. The layout bears witness to the fact it must have been run on very traditional lines. Despite such a graceless conversion, many traces of decorative cornices, carved doors and painted ceilings have managed to survive the rigours of a school regime. The concept for the present conversion is different this time as the design takes into account the interests of two distinct groups and promotes a sense of restoration.
The first group are the residents already living in the building and who will live there for the foreseeable future. From now on they will have to share with hotel guests who come to the city to relax and enjoy their leisure. The other group are the earnest champions of the scrolls, cherubs and other ornaments belonging to the heritage of a more refined age, the conservationists. Their role is to ensure we don’t forget certain parts of our history. Even though the building will need to be subdivided for its new use, the refurbishment will seek to restore the first floor to its former glory in a way which suits both interest groups.
The new structure will keep the regimented classroom layout while aiming to create little idyllic oases which give the sensation of belonging to a wide-open space. In each room the shower, wash basin and toilet will be housed in a well-defined nucleus around which a distinctive design for each individual room is based. The walls to each of the rooms will be built in accordance with the new design while respecting features from the original structure, its plasterwork and painted decoration, but without actually adhering to the same layout. Cornice strips and wall festoons will cross the new divisions, sweeping in and out of rooms, evoking their origins in more generously spaced quarters. The upper third of the rooms will be covered with mirrors. As the mirrors face one other, the scrolls, frames, cornices and parts of former walls are multiplied into infinity. The trick is in trying to create the sensation of a larger space, a stronghold of intimacy in an illusory greater living space which is now reduced from the superstructure of a distant past.
The neutrality of the semi-prefabricated nucleus and the informal design of the walls and curtains allow such echoes from the past to endure in its adornments and the illusion of a stately room, helping to create a new experience. Just like the silly idea of playing a princess from the past, even though she never actually succeeded to the throne.

Weird situation


WEIRD PLACE We are in Santa Margarida de Montbui, not far from Barcelona, South West Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula. It is a town surprisingly oriented to north, on a steep plot facing the town and leaving behind, at the very top and on the south side, a forest of pine trees and bushes. The access is placed on this north side, at the bottom of the slope, on a winding road like many others in town. We rebel at that given situation turning round to face south, looking to the top to the forest, and in order not to end with the mountain sanding our faces we sculpt a multilayered garden and provide an exit for every floor.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVERSITIES The very one strategy is to rethink the situation using its own adverse conditions to change them. With a single movement we deal with the construction technique to achieve functional goals. The aim is to turn the other way round the situation with a meaningful process to change a given situation, considering it not just a problem but an opportunity. The process should contain the final objectives.
We have two families of adverse situations. Ones are orographical, the other are legal but both invite to perform a gesture. On the orographical side we have a plot steeping north that suggests us to climb and surprisingly to live in a wall. On the legal side, planning regulations state that just a ground and a first floor are permitted, to tackle that we will propose to live in a hood.

A GESTURE On the manner of the torero that moves slightly to avoid the horn and tenses the muscle just at the very appropriate moment to stay at that distance that mingles with maximum danger, a movement that places him in front of himself. On the same way, the retaining walls twist in a game of concavo-convex that holds back the earth, retain it and protect us from the weather hassle. The house stays alone, finding its place and then starts to climb the mountain marking its own territory. Two walls that change from retaining walls to roof surface define the construction.

TO CLIMB Benefit from the sheer slope can mean a direct access to the garden from each floor. Three floors, three garden levels. The retaining walls grow multiple and extend their limbs digging here and there making possible this direct access from each floor. A garden for every floor.

LIVING IN A WALL The two retaining walls define the spaces to live in. Walls allowing the dwelling to fit in their concavity and holding up the earth behind with the convex side. Both walls fold to shape the roof but eluding to meet each other leaving a split to look through. Thanks to that the living room and kitchen face the garden and the forest on the south side through a glass façade. This so called living floor is under a sort of hood defined by one of the walls and looks over the roof that forms the second retaining wall over the bedrooms. The house seeks its own reflection.

TO BE HOODED Planning Regulations allow to build a ground and a first floor but to face south we need to climb further up. Then we decide to play with the rules and study heights and floors, and being a little curious we find a special level: the garret. The north wall bends longitudinally and folds vertically to become roof for the living room placed immediately under it. Comfortably seated in that living room, now a generous garret, we take a look over the second hood covering the bedroom area and the studio. Those two hoods agree to leave a long open strip to allow views over the garden and forest.