In this issue of Framed, we talk to Architect, Urban Planner, and Photographer Pau Iglesias from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Originally from Barcelona, Catalonia, Pau moved to Brazil to start an architectural design firm together with Letiane Benincá, an architect with a Masters in Renewable Energy. A very talented architect, in his free time, Pau loves taking photographs of buildings and the urban landscape.
Fun Times: Hi Pau, good day! Thank you for doing this interview with us.
Pau: Hi Randi, good day to you too! I feel very honoured to do this interview with you.
Fun Times: The honour is ours, Pau and its our pleasure too. You have a very interesting life. One of the things that caught our attention is that you moved to a Portuguese-speaking country having come from a city who speaks Catalan and Spanish. What is it like? Are there any language barriers? Do the three languages have enough similarities to overcome them (language barriers)?
Pau: Languages must not be a barrier – they are made to connect us with everyone. Language is culture and every country has its own and somehow, to travel to another country means to immerse into their culture.
I like to travel and therefore to live new experiences. I need to learn the language of the every country I am visiting and living in. It is the best way to understand what’s going on there and to try to improve society with your work.
Portuguese, Catalan and Spanish are so similar, so there’s no problem learning Portuguese.
Fun Times: Catalonia has been actively revitalising their public spaces especially the riverfront and the interior spaces of residential blocks. Is there a similar effort in Rio Grande do Sul in particular or in Brazil in general?
Pau: That’s a very interesting question. I come from a country that thinks about the future of its cities. I worked in several urban planning projects in Barcelona and I know that its very important to THINK before to ACT.
I think that this is working in a different way here in Rio Grande do Sul. Brazil is a “new” country that is growing so fast. In the beginning, cities were growing without planning and, when you are here, you can see that there is no organisation and planning at all. Right now some City Halls are doing an effort to improve it, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
It is being a very interesting period for me. In my 2 years experience here in Brazil, I changed my professional way of analysing architecture and urban planning. There are other priorities in my work. Beyond this issue, society is more conservative here and new ideas, innovative aesthetics, different concepts, sustainable materials are not welcome. So our work is becoming harder.
Fun Times: Your firm specialises in energy efficiency and urban planning, what are the common challenges you encounter in your projects? Any particular renewable energy technologies you feel the public needs to know about?
Pau: Every project is a new challenge for us. Our projects’ sizes are variable. Now we are working, for example, from a small restaurant to a huge industrial building or educational pavilions. Every project, no matter the size, has to attempt new and sustainable sources of energy at its maximum. This way of thinking is not the future. It is the present. Our purpose is to persuade our clients that this is the path to follow (not an easy work). We always say that the best way to be sustainable is to make a good design (orientation, ventilation, sun protection, isolation). Good renewable energy technologies are in the market, all we have to do is to include them in our lives.
Fun Times: Who are your influences and inspirations as an architect? How about as a photographer?
Pau: I could say a lot of architects that I’ve been influenced, but I won’t. I prefer to talk about other influences. An architect has to be an open-minded observer. Interesting things happens if you open your eyes. I like to read, to listen, to walk with no direction, to analyse every single thing in the streets and in nature. That provides me a lot of parametrical ideas that I can use on our projects. Even music could be an inspiration for a house!
As a photographer I have to name some people that made a deep impact in my way to see and capture architecture details. Dani (@gretaway), Roc (@stoptheroc) and Ingo (@_ingo_1) are part of my inspirations. Their shots and edits made me re-think my way to observe architecture and also changed my way to “understand” our projects.
Fun Times: Your photography reflects the same style as your architectural projects. Minimal, clean, peaceful, and relaxing. What is the reason behind that style?
Pau: I think this is not a coincidence. It is the reflection of our minds. I am a quiet man with a lot of brain activity. In the cities, there are too many information that is not useful, too many advertising. We usually forget about keeping it simple. Baroque age is over!
Minimal is not only an architectural style. It is a way of thinking, a way to understand the world, a way of living. In our studio we try to apply this attitude in our projects, clean ideas with strong concepts. We don’t forget that architecture has to thrill us, spaces have to transmit some kind of feeling.
I try to apply the same attitude in what I see, in my photography.
Fun Times: Which one do you enjoy doing more, architectural design or photography?
Pau: Hehehe… That is a difficult question. I can’t answer that. I think they are part of the same creativity. And creativity is all for me. In my other activities like music, drawing, and video, creativity is the path that connects all of them. I work sometimes mixing and fusing all these disciplines, giving me new dimensions of creativity.
Fun Times: Looking at your Instagram feed, you seem to have travelled a lot, is that true? Which cities have you been to so far which has the best urban landscape for photography?
Pau: Yes, I travel a lot. I used to travel around Europe, but recently I am between Catalonia and Brazil. Also United States occasionally.
I like to travel (if I have time and money). It is an interesting way to understand global society, and also myself.
Every city has interesting spots, the only thing we have to do is to walk around the streets and try to have a critical eye. Details and textures are very interesting if you look patiently at them.
Fun Times: Architecture has greatly evolved especially from the last five to ten years focusing on energy efficiency and sustainability. What words of advise can you give to aspiring architects or those those who have just started the practice?
Pau: Yes, that’s true. We need to focus in that direction, and construction professionals are important people to be in front of this way to act, but should not be the only ones. Some governments and private companies don’t think in that way and this complicates our work. Power and money are (unfortunately) above global needs. But all this has to change. Global crisis is making us go back to strong values and principles that we have been loosing. We have to stop and re-think what are our main values and act in that direction.
My advice to the new young architects is to work hard in their own ideas, but always have a global vision. Don’t give up on their project’s processes and try to be inspired by the good aspects of life. They have to translate their passion to their projects. Architecture is an equilibrium between Science and Art, rational and emotional thoughts have to understand each other. It will improve ourselves and also our surroundings.
Thank you very much Pau for taking the time to do this interview with us. Thank you also for giving us some good advise. We wish you more success in your architecture practice and in your photography. We can’t wait to see more of your work.
To learn more about Pau and his partner Letiane’s architecture practice, visit their firm IB22’s website or their Facebook page. To enjoy more of Pau’s photos, head on to his Instagram profile. We hope you enjoyed this issue of Framed.
Framed is our feature series where we talk to artists and get to know them a little better. We try to find out their creative process, their inspiration, and everything in between that helps them produce amazing works of art.