Juan Manuel Rojas Fernández
Master of Innovation in Architecture, Technology and Design
Senior researcher in Seville’s School of Architecture
Laura Domínguez Hernández
NAME OF THE PRACTICE
The practice’s name comes from the name of a street in Seville, where the practice was founded and started. As many others in Seville, this street has a story.
In the middle of Hombre de Piedra Street in Seville, on the façade of a building, there is a niche with a torso of a man in stone.
Between the XIII and XV centuries, the name of the street was “calle del Buen Rostro” (street of the Good Face). In 1390, King Juan I enacted Law 11: every person in the street was obliged to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament (Communion Bread). Even the king, or people on horseback were compelled to do it, regardless of mud or other street conditions. On this occasion, a procession marched, the priest holding the Consecrated Bread to carry it to a dying person. People gathered in a tavern on that street went out when they heard the prayers. Among them was Matías “el Rubio” (the Blond), an ungodly man who refused to kneel. As he was turning away, a lightning bolt struck him and turned him into stone.
He was possibly one of the first self-recognised sceptics in Seville. Scepticism is an indispensable scientific quality to develop for the sake of progress.
Now we think it was a happy coincidence. Stone was one of the first materials that man took from nature and modeled as a tool in order to live more comfortably.
Architecture transforms spaces in a certain environment searching for the same aim.
There are many adjectives related to our practice that we are very proud to hold, such as: sustainable, bioclimatic, efficient, ecological, environmental, green, eco-friendly, biological, eco and environmentally friendly.
We think this condition should be present in any kind of architecture. Architecture is looking into the future. We imagine buildings and cities that are not yet built. As in science fiction (not the apocalyptic one), we like to imagine a better future. To preserve our future, we must be very careful with what we build and how we do it.
From the very beginning, our practice stood out for this particular aspect of our work: sustainability. But the truth is that the difference between the traditional approach and ours is that we include this from the concept design. We start thinking of the sustainability aspects from the very first sketches. It is the way to truly integrate them into the architecture of the building (or planning or any other design).
The conventional approach studies the efficiency of the building in a later part of the process, when the installations are being designed and calculated.
We intend to think of the installations from the very beginning. We do not leave its design to another department. We use to think of installations as spaces themselves, and of spaces as installations.
We also think of other important aspects of sustainability such us: spatial flexibility, industrial and rational processes, recycling, reuse of materials and spaces, modular architecture, use integration and compatibility and movable architectures. Architecture is a way of ordering space, and space is another limited resource on Earth. Sustainability has to manage the best use of limited resources.
Man has developed technology since the first tools made of wood and stone. Now our technology is much more complicated. For us, people, technology is as natural as breathing, despite the confrontation between technology and nature.
Technology can sometimes be hostile, uncomfortable or nonsensical. But let’s not think of technology as a bad agent. We do not need no technology, but better technology.
We believe technology is the natural human way to relate with the environment. We cannot do but technology, because it is what defines us as humans. There is nothing more natural than technology, and nothing more human than machine.
Agriculture is technology, tradition is technology, a nice courtyard of a mediterranean house is technology. Art is a curious variety of technology. There is game in all technology, because there are no solutions without creativity. The technology that improves our environment is architecture.
But to idealise technology is as vain as to reject it. Technology is not magic. It is based in science, and this in rationality. It cannot make the resources grow unlimitedly in a limited world such as ours. The paradox is that only technology can help us solve the problems that an unsophisticated technology has caused our planet.
In our professional work and in our research there is a balance between strictly material aspects and other more elusive ones, such as art and design. We believe a good design always helps people feel better. But those aspects of our work are very difficult to ponder over, because currently they cannot be measured.
In our research, we try to extend the use of quantification beyond the traditional aspects. We keep on researching a better way of measuring any kind of concept. It is very important to quantify something in order to justify its use. We develop quantification anywhere it is viable: passive strategies for energy saving, like courtyards, for example.
Design is the best way to solve human problems. Architects work with many problems to solve, like human, environmental, town, even design or architectural problems. A good design should solve as many problems as possible, and avoid to create new ones. It should also create a better environment for the purposes and the people that the building (or other architecrural work) is being used for. Any human transformation of the environment is guided by a design intention. As we said about technology, design is as natural as breathing for us, humans.
PEOPLE WE HAVE WORKED WITH:
Alberto Martín-Loeches Sánchez
Antonio Ortiz Morilla
Juan Ignacio Vilda Marín
Manuel Cansino Conejero
José Manuel Sánchez Muñoz
Ricardo Martínez Alfaro
PORT ARCHITECTURE ADVICE
David Martínez Lorente
Joaquín Guerra Macho
Dimarq, Diseño de Instalaciones y Montajes de Arquitectura
Ineco 98, ingeniería de cálculo de infraestructuras
HP Ingenieros, Málaga, cálculo de estructuras
Elías F. Oteo, Rafael Ruiz Vera
Universidad de Sevilla
EGA Estudio Glorieta Arquitectura
Arquitecto Óscar Rodríguez López
Elap, Eva Luque+Alejandro Pascual (LosDelDesierto)
Arquitectos Montoya Molina
José Luis Ágreda Yécora
Autoridad Portuaria de Sevilla
Junta de Andalucía
Promotora Social San Fernando, S.L.
Gabriel Rojas, S.L.