“Architecture is what helps us feel like a society”

Inspiring people


Carme Pinós (Barcelona, 1954) knew she would be an architect by the age of 14. What she had envisioned for her future became an indisputable reality. She sees architecture as the space where we socialize, and she doesn't like talking about “success,” because it is one of those words that encumbers our society. She speaks openly about the cities of the future and how we need to engage with nature. The interview that follows is truly a worthwhile read.

When did you decide to become an architect?

I was very young, a teenager. My father taught us to love art and architecture. He wanted my older brother to be an architect, and when he decided to study medicine, I assumed I was the one who had to become the architect. I was 14 and from that moment on, I never once doubted that I was supposed to be an architect.

How would you define architecture?

Architecture is the space where we socialize. Architecture is what helps us feel like a society. The earliest forms of architecture were temples, sanctuaries, spaces that structured and defined society. We could describe architecture as the experience of space, but it is much more than that. Architecture always has a social connotation.

What does it take to be a successful architect?

I don't like the word “success.” I think it is one of those words that encumbers our superficial and somewhat apathetic society. I prefer the verbs enjoy, respond, assimilate... For architecture to be assimilated, to respond to current needs and be enjoyable for people, it has to stem from an understanding of contemporaneity, from a deep commitment to people, and from an enormous sense of generosity on the architect's part in terms of effort and responsibility.

[caption id="attachment_24013" align="alignnone" width="850"] Miquel Tres[/caption]

Are prizes important in the architectural field?

Prizes give us greater visibility and inspire trust in people. And trust is essential to getting anything done.

Was it difficult to go it alone when you decided to set up your own architecture studio?

I set up my own studio, because the situation in my previous studio had become unsustainable. It was more of a consequence than a decision, one that makes me feel very fortunate.

What project are you most proud of?

The Cube I Tower, I think. It was the first solo project I did with my studio. It was a gigantic leap of faith that luckily turned out well.

The project was shown at the Venice Biennial. Is this the greatest recognition?

No, it isn't the greatest, it is one of many. The project also received the first prize at the Spanish Biennial of Architecture. The greatest prize is that the people who use Cube Tower love it and that the clients have continued confidence in me. They recently commissioned another tower; this time it's a residential project.

What types of buildings do you normally work on? What projects do you enjoy the most?

Until relatively recently, I mostly worked for the public sector. The economic crisis made me switch to private clients. Right now I'm working on houses, hotels and real estate complexes... I thought I preferred working on public spaces, but I'm starting to take pleasure in designing houses. The only thing I struggle with on residential projects are the excessive regulations. They really limit the experience, almost everything is set out for you, your playing field is very limited, although that varies depending on the country, even the region.

Your current list of projects includes a winery... Is this your first foray into the wine world, architecturally speaking?

Yes, it's my first, and I'm very excited. Plus, the clients are very cultured and meticulous people. It is a challenge that I hope to meet in the best possible way. I’m motivated by working with a very strict concept or in dialogue with nature. It's knowing how to build a machine that runs perfectly, a space that gives rise to human emotions and a dialogue with the nature around it.

How would you describe the current state of Spanish architecture?

Spanish architecture ranks quite high in terms of architecture worldwide. The years leading up to the economic crisis were a period of great creativity and well-taken risks for the most part. The situation changed with the crisis, and now we see our architects working abroad or in important positions at the best American universities, which shows that Spanish architecture isn't just good but internationally recognized.

What is the role of women in architecture? Has it changed over the years?

These days architecture schools around the world are full of women, which wasn't the case in my day. In my graduating class, we were about four or five women among two hundred men.  This translates to all fields that are related to architecture. Today we see women managing construction sites or supervising the structural work on a project. It is becoming increasingly normal for women to break into all professional fields; there is no going back, because every determining factor is pointing in that direction.

Women can contribute a lot to architecture, because they're empathetic, more so than men, I think, and architecture is a social service, so empathy is essential.

A few years ago, many young people had to leave the country. Has Spain lost talent?

We have to think in terms of a global world. We can work abroad from here, we can leave and come back, engage with people from other countries... We can't think in terms of closed territories anymore. This might make us feel nostalgic, but we have to realize that the world is moving in that direction.

What advice do you have for young architecture students?

To learn how to listen, to become aware of their responsibility and, knowing and accepting this responsibility, to not let conventions or trends stand in their way, to move with complete freedom.

What are the trends of the future and where is architecture headed?

We have to champion the idea of responsibility with a capital R and knowledge. An architect needs to understand his or her contemporaneity, take this on responsibly and then act with complete freedom. The future needs to be built; it doesn't exist in advance. All I ask is that it be built with this premise in mind.

Architecture and urban planning always go hand in hand. What should the city of the future be like?

Less polluted, less noisy, less stressful, with less market speculation, with communal spaces and a greater connection to nature.

The city needs to stop being a market-driven jungle and really become a space for human co-existence, exchange and relations.

What projects are you working on in the short term?

At the moment I'm completing construction on a hotel expansion and residences in Barcelona. I'm also working on several projects in Mexico and a pavilion in Australia. These days we're wrapping up a contest for a new pavilion at the and getting started on the winery.


A Brief Taste

Do you like wine?

I love it, but for now the doctor has crossed it off my list.

What is the best moment to enjoy a glass of wine?

With friends.

A song to accompany a good wine?

Jazz, always.

A place to get lost in?

I wouldn't like to get lost. I'm happy working and enjoying myself.

What do you do in your free time?


A flaw?


A virtue?


What did you want to be as a child?

Before wanting to be an architect, I wanted to be an archaeologist.

And when you're older?

To keep doing what I do.


Cover photo: Miquel Tres

Categorías: Inspiring people