Interview with elii: architecture office

Elii architecture office is a studio based in Madrid run by Uriel Fogué Herreros, Eva Gil Lopesino and Carlos Palacios Rodríguez since 2006. Carlos and Uriel worked together in the collective UHF. After that, they worked on the same team with Eva in the last of the studios they were before opening their own architecture office. A team that works together, and as their first project they chose to design their own one: Elii.

entrevista-elii-elii-interview-more-with-less-design-magazine-1 Elii team: Carlos Palacios Rodríguez, Eva Gil Lopesino and Uriel Fogué Herreros.

 

Their outstanding career includes a great number of awards. Last year they won the COAM award and were selected to participate in the Spanish Pavilion of the XV Architecture Biennale of Venice. Their work covers the majority of scales of Architecture. To do so, they say it is essential to work with a multidisciplinary team with variable structures. Their designs adapt to the more current necessities. Although each project is different, Elii is characterized by maintaining a strategic look of each of them. In this interview they show us how it is to work under the vision of Elii.

“Architecture has an interscale dimension: in different gradients micro can affect the macro and vice versa. That is why we are interested in working in different scales and formats.”

What is your working method to develop a project?
Projects are the result of conversations and interactions: with the clients, the team, institutions, building companies, the industry, etc. We start from the analysis of determinants, necessities, desires, interests and time of the agents involved, the available resources, the surrounding, etc. We form the suitable team. We set in motion parallel researches that inform and enrich the projects. We exchange images, concepts, techniques, models, etc. These serve us to start creating a sort of “alphabet” of imaginary of the project. Finally, we develop the most convenient strategy, trying not only to solve the project, but also to provide it an “added value”.

 


“Biombombastic”, Project winner of the COAM 2016 award

 

Elii encompasses different areas of architecture (private, public, urban). From your experience, which, of all of them, is creating a more representative impact in the current user?
All of them actually. From an ecosystem perspective, some of the classic categories like big/small, exterior/interior, public/private, etc. are not operational any more. Architecture has an interscale dimension: in different gradients micro can affect the macro and vice versa. That is why we are interested in working in different scales and formats.

“From our point of view, ecology (“sustainability) is a too controversial concept. It implies above all a cultural change.”

In most of your projects of urban intervention you make references to the importance of interacting with the public. What tools or strategies you use to achieve it?
The city is a kind of “playing field”, where citizens are like “players”. The design, materials, colours, interaction devices, technologies, etc. participate in different ways in the experience of those who live in this urban ecosystem, activating affections, facilitating certain links, accelerating some strategies, articulating choreographies…

entrevista-elii-elii-interview-more-with-less-design-magazine-3Project “Didomestic” organizes and redesigns this apartment of 57m2. To know more here.

 

What is nowadays, from your point of view, the role of sustainability and technology in architecture? How do you apply it in your projects?Sustainability gets bad press: it is usually linked with a negative imaginary, like a punishment coming down on us (because we have lived beyond our ecological means). From our point of view, ecology (“sustainability) is a too controversial concept. It implies above all a cultural change. Continuing with the previous example, the rules of the game have changed. We have to explore other plays from these new rules. Design and architecture play a crucial role to think and imagine new frames of cohabitation, new very sexy spaces, a new idea of luxury and desire, and also to question the state of the things and the way they are organized, meaning to open new questions.

“Transformable houses adapt better to the rhythm and ways of life of such a varied and changeable society where we live, providing a variety of situations and wealth of experiences.”

From some of your housing projects like “Biombombastic”, “Susaloon” or “Didomestic” there is a great intention to adapt and make the space flexible. How do you think the relation between the user and the domestic space is going to develop? How do you imagine the house of the future would be?
We like to think that houses are like “theatres”: they are a kind of “setting” where we interpret our daily routine, where we rehearse our subjectivity and identity, where we experience some relations, where we give a meaning to the “usual things”…Domestic spaces are like small sets where today a drama is played, and tomorrow it will be a comedy. Transformable houses adapt better to the rhythm and ways of life of such a varied and changeable society where we live, providing a variety of situations and wealth of experiences. These are spaces that take care of the potential, allowing to explore what is possible, fantasies, desires, fictions, links, etc.That does not mean you have to change your house space all the time in no way. But if you want to, you can transform the living space and try other configurations.
That is why we do not imagine a house of the future. We prefer to think about houses of the future, in plural.

“Susaloon”, a minimal apartment in Madrid. Read more about it here.

What does it mean More with less for you? Is it reflected in your work?
If we focus on “more” it seems this means to get “more with less”. But we are interested in the opposite: if we focus on “less”, in its power, then we are also valuing what is small, micro, the apparently insignificant, even the useless things (“the useful of the useless” as Nuccio Ordine would say). Art, for example, is worth nothing, and, however, it can change everything…Our concern is to load architecture with these presumable insignificant dimensions, that you do not know what they are and yet….mmmmh!

Interview: Paula Font Creixell
Translation: Carmen Gómez Guzmán
Photos & Film Lucía Herreroelii and Miguel Guzmán

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