YINJISPACE use media professional’s unique perspective,try to explore the essence of life behind the design works.

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YINJISPACE use media professional’s unique perspective,try to explore the essence of life behind the design works.

© logo 粤ICP备19077098号

Vol.102丨Portugal x Aires Mateus Architecture

Portugal 2022-12-30

Aires Mateus Architecture is an architectural practice based in Lisbon, Portugal, founded in 1988 by two brothers, Manuel Aires Mateus and Francisco Aires Mateus. The firm aims to maintain an open understanding of architecture and realize its core essence in order to create thought-provoking architecture in contemporary Portugal.

Yinjispace:Any designers affect you in these years? How does Peter Zumthor Influences you?

Febrero Studio:The architects who most influenced me are not necessarily alive. If I'm only talking about architects, to narrow down the answer somewhat, I'd say that the architects who most influenced me would be Borromini for his freedom, Schinkel or Mies for their precision, Palladio for his ability to invent and surprise; but obviously also Siza, for his infinite ability to draw and to discover new possibilities for architecture. Zumthor influenced me because of his ability to generate a very complete and synthetic architecture, very defined in life. And in fact, in Zumthor’s case, I met him, not only as an architect but as a teacher, in Mendrisio, and since then I have been aware of his infinite ability to relate to students. This effectiveness in relating to students and in creating a real investigation with them was decisive for me.

Yinjispace:How do you seek for uniqueness in recent years?

Febrero Studio:None of these factors are sought. However, architecture starts from a singular condition because it answers to a precise question; each question in architecture is always unique and therefore we arrive at an response that should be unique. In fact, what’s interesting is precisely discovering this unique character in each of the problems we face.

Yinjispace:Is there phased change in your design style? In what time you form your own style and how do you define it?

Febrero Studio:I think that styles are not defined. Evolutions and variations will happen because architecture responds, at every moment, to questions of its own time. Our concerns, the concerns that the world is experiencing, are always changing; and therefore, we respond to that and vary our response according to those problems that the World keeps bringing to us. Now, I don't think that counts as a style; I think it's the world itself that changes and forces us to find particular conditions and, in that sense, the corresponding answers.

Yinjispace:Place is the starting point of the project? How do you think the relationship between place and design?

Febrero Studio:The place is not necessarily the starting point of a project. Still, the place is always an influence in a project; not the place seen in a static sense, but the place seen as the possibility of its own transformation. The starting points for a project can be many; there are projects that start from the programme, others that start from the place, some that start from a technological possibility, others that start from an economic possibility, and there are some that start from a legal possibility... each project is different. Place is always a very important influence in a project; but I repeat: it should not be understood as a static form, but rather as a place that is observed from a need for transformation, and that is why one looks at it in a very particular way.

Yinjispace:How do you think the relationship between interior and exterior? How would you practice them? 

Febrero Studio:The inside and the outside are always the same. It depends on where we are: if we are inside, the inside is what we call the inside, if we are outside, the inside is what we call the outside. What matters on the interior is always the idea that we are observing what surrounds us; and this happens both inside and outside. What interests me are exactly these relationships that are worked from each of the users perspectives to arrive at the surrounding place’s design.

Yinjispace:How do you perceive memory and make it one part of the space?

Febrero Studio:We could talk of many thinks about memory; we could almost write a book about memory itself. But I would say there are two fundamental conditions in memory; one is the memory of the creator, the one that makes him unique. His or her bank of private influences; what they have in their own memory. The other is the way we work with the collective memory or the memories of others. It is important to work or invoke the memories because it is a way of creating a relationship with each of the users. The user always needs to find something that he recognises; and when he or she recognizes a condition, a window opens from which you can read the other conditions of the project.

Yinjispace:what's the difference of Portugal's way of architecture and other countries?

Febrero Studio:I don't think we should talk about architecture in such a general way. I would say that the most interesting thing about Portuguese architecture is author-to-author architecture. But if we want to find some overall condition in Portuguese architecture, I would say that, in the first place, it is a profoundly European architecture; it is, in this sense, an architecture that recognizes time, legacy, as a fundamental element; this is the condition of European architecture. In the specific case of Portuguese architecture, it is an architecture in which we can find, in addition to these characteristics that I have defined, a condition for the use of traditionally minimal elements. Portugal is a small country that has occupied large areas of territory in the world and has always had the need to build with minimal conditions. This is perhaps the feature that most differentiates Portuguese architecture. However, it is always more interesting to study each author, or even each work by each author, when talking about architecture.

Yinjispace:How do you think the trend of minimalism?

Febrero Studio:I never liked the definition of minimalism. I don't even understand it very well. I think that we use the elements that we have available, in order to provide a basis of freedom for each person to use the space. We often confuse this with the idea of a style, but in fact, architecture when correct has no interest in style; it is an intelligent support for a time and its future.

Yinjispace:During the pandemic situation, what difficulties do you think we would encounter in the architecture tomorrow?

Febrero Studio:Fundamentally, the pandemic opened up a difference in the natural evolution of the use of urban space. We were evolving towards less investment in the private space, and more in the collective space; the democratic space, the space for all. Which is correct as an evolution. The pandemic has reminded us that sometimes we can be limited to a private space. And that leads us to think about how this private space can maintain a condition of freedom in its use. I'm not just talking about size or quality, I'm talking about how, with the same conditions, we can design homes that allow for a freer use by each person individually. Electing freedom as one of the factors that best combats the possibility of being restricted to a place.