Interview with RÄS studio

RÄS studiois a young studio based in Barcelona and founded by Joan Astallé, Clàudia Raurell and Marc Peiró. They baptize their studio with the conjunction between the surnames of the two first founders (RAurell + AStallé), accenting symbolically the A like a meeting point. A project that is born as an answer to the tempestuous architecture outlook. Due to the crisis, RÄS studio has been able to provide an alternative answer to the sector: housing renovation.entrevista-räs-interview-räs-more-with-less-design-magazine-1

 RÄS team, Joan Astallé, Clàudia Raurell and  Marc Peiróen in one of their projects: l’Olga

 

Through a critical exercise on the practice of the architect, they re-adapt it to the new contexts offering a close, accessible and contemplative architecture, where even the names of their works are decided with the heart and conscience. A team of flexible and changeable structures working in unison, questioning and making vulnerable each project until getting the most interesting result. Let them show us the vision of RÄS studio.

Joan Astallé: JA
Clàudia Raurell: CR
Marc Peiró: MP

“Working with pre-existence is extremely delicate and complex. Our task is to learn to understand and treat it.”

What are the difficulties and virtues you find when working in a house renovation?
MP: Each place or space is configured through its own internal rules and from its story. Working with pre-existence is extremely delicate and complex. Our task is to learn to understand and treat it. The experience has shown us that when working with an existing piece or environment you have to leave room for the wow factor. We put a lot of effort in the in situ phase – the construction -, of reconfiguration and adaptation of the initial design, which starts from the intuitive speculation, as we don’t know what is “behind”.

Another image of  l’Olga, a restoration in Barcelona

 

How do you manage the relationship with the client and his needs? What is the role of the architect in these projects?
CR:I think it will be difficult for us to develop a job without an initial briefing. When we start with a project the first step is to ask clients to bombard us with all their whims, obsessions, needs or even phobias. These parameters are useful to build an imaginary about how they want to live their homes. The scenography that surrounds that imaginary is the architecture we provide.

One of your last projects, “La Carmina”, won the second award in Proyectissimo. What does this recognition mean to you?
JA: Any award, a satisfied client or the call of a new potential client that found us on the Internet is absolutely motivational, a very intense “adrenaline kick” for all the team. We thank Habitissimo for its impulse to discover new talents and offer them a platform for visibility and recognition.

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La Carmina; apartment restoration in Barcelona. To read more here.

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Another image of  La Carmina. To read more here.

 

Is there any characteristic that distinguishes “La Carmina” from the rest of the projects? What do you particularly like from this work?
MP: All the projects share a previous study phase of the place that leads to very different projects. What we especially like from La Carmina is the academic accuracy: it concentrates the damp spaces in two detached boxes that, at the same time, distribute the space they enclose in areas with different programs. In this house we discovered dividing walls with a lot of historical burden, with a very expressive masonry construction and old bricked lintels. We decided to show the pre-existent skeleton to increase the role of the container.

“What we especially like from La Carmina is the academic accuracy: it concentrates the damp spaces in two detached boxes that, at the same time, distribute the space they enclose in areas with different programs.”

As most of your work is dedicated to the housing renovation, we’d like to know how you arrived to this area of architecture. What does working in this sector especially contribute to you?
JA: We arrived accidentally to the world of renovation rather than deliberately. It’s the result of the collision between various coincidences: on one side, the urban reality of Barcelona, geographically delimited by the sea and the mountains, and thus very limited when it expands; on the other side, we have the crisis that destroyed new building works as a real possibility in our field.

MP: Nowadays we have become experts in the reformulation of lived spaces with history. We are seduced by these places where so much information is accumulated. This is the archaeology work of architecture.

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La Carmeta, apartment restoration in Barcelona.

Another image of La Carmeta,  Barcelona.

Considering that today a lot of young students and professionals want to create their own studio, what advices could you give them from your experience?
CR:We’d advise them to roll up their sleeves because the level of water is not always the same. It depends in part on whether life catches you working. You need time and a lot of love – for architecture, your workmates, and your clients. They are necessary ingredients to make anything works.

“If we had to choose what makes us different, I’d bet on the equilibrium between a functional and genuine design, and a budget adapted to the reality of the client.”

Is it possible to say that there is a philosophy behind your work? What makes the architecture of RÄS studio different?
MP: We have always supported the idea that projects have to be different in order to understand and give an answer to the place, although they are signed by the same studio. We like to think the architecture of RÄS shares a resemblance but not a literality.

JA: If we had to choose what makes us different, I’d bet on the equilibrium between a functional and genuine design, and a budget adapted to the reality of the client.

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La Dominique, the last project of RÄS.

La Dominique,  Barcelona.

 

“I believe we are more concerned on the humanization of architecture through the prioritization of the experience of the place: how it is occupied, used or inhabited; as well as on the physical relation between the body and the space.”

What does More with less mean to you? Is it reflected in your work?
CR: Big modern architects coined this term to describe their abstract aesthetic and extreme simplicity. I believe we are more concerned on the humanization of architecture through the prioritization of the experience of the place: how it is occupied, used or inhabited; as well as on the physical relation between the body and the space.

JA: We use simplicity as a way to make these spaces comprehensible, to give them an order and, simultaneously, to focus the project on very specific actions. Thus it is possible to economize the intervention.

Interview : Paula Font Creixell
Translation : Carmen Gómez Guzmán
Photos : Adrià Goula