Architecture inspired by emotions – Spaceworkers interview
Spaceworkers constant search for new paradigms is driven by the sensations of each location.
Located in Paredes, northern Portugal, Spaceworkers is an architecture and design studio founded by Henrique Marques, Rui Dinis, and Carla Duarte.
The work of the studio reflects their desire to always be wanting to create and a constant search for solutions. Evaluating the context that surrounds them, Spaceworkers always appeal to the sensibility of its clients for a new way to perceive space in its sensorial dimension.
With a constant search of new paradigms of architecture and achieving a close relationship between space and emotions, the studio has been nominated for the Great Indoors Award and has won the Building of the Year Award on multiple occasions as well as the A+ Awards in the category Private Houses XL.
How did the journey for Spaceworkers begin?
Spaceworkers: “Spaceworkers’ journey began in 2007 as a part-time adventure for Henrique, Rui and Carla. We had two or three projects for family and friends, and we needed to start working on them and discuss the projects ideas, a bit like if we were at university. We soon realized that the ideal thing would be to work together.
In parallel with Carla, there were also some clients who needed the work of architects, and so this adventure began, which is still today, an adventure.“
Why focusing on the constant search of new paradigms of contemporary architecture?
Spaceworkers: “The constant search for new paradigms has to do with our desire to always be wanting to create. For us, architecture is basically created by emotions, and nothing better than a constant investigation to be able to always spur new emotions.
We think we are still too young to have a style, or just one way to do it, we like several approaches, and we want to continue to learn, and to test new things. Even within the same project line, we test countless things, there are always a thousand solutions to the same problem.
The architect’s challenge is to think of spaces for life, full of emotions, light and shadow, and it is precisely this idea that we can create something that remains in time, and that allows life to unfold inside, that motivated us to follow this path of wanting to be an architect.
Our ultimate goal, in reality, is to be able to leave something for future generations and who knows, maybe for the history of our clients, projects that are highly identifiable and above all facilitate the daily lives of those who use them, and that they feel good in those spaces created by us”
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The work of Spaceworkers reflects a close relation between form and emotions. Which are the main values, core concepts or style inclinations that, above all, will always represent the studio?
Spaceworkers: “We think that more than a style, or a language, what we want to characterize our studio is precisely in the constant search for solutions. In reality we don’t want to be tied to a style to characterize us.
For us, the beautiful part of being an architect is precisely the conceptual phase, where we go on successively trying and failing, until we arrive to an idea, form or sensation, which indicates a valid path for each project. This is what attracts us the most in the whole process.
We start with a blank sheet, not knowing whether we are going to create a rectangle or a star, or if we are going to have a compact or dispersed building. We only know the sensations we would like to put in that building in that location. This is what interests us most.”
The ‘Damião de Góis Museum’ project creates an exhibition structure, alluding to the life and legacy of Damião de Gois inside a restored church in Alenquer. Which architects are you inspired by?
Spaceworkers: “In reality, we are influenced by almost all the architects and styles that exist. We consume a lot of architecture, more and more, we are interested in classics, but in general, consciously or subconsciously, all the projects we see from other architects end up serving as references, whether positive or negative, both sides are important.
The inputs beyond architects actually come from our day to day, because everything that happens around us also ends up influencing our approach.
Naturally, we are paying attention to cinema, music, art, design, and fashion, but honestly they are not what most influence us, it is people and society that have more weight in this influence.“
The project ‘Cabo de Vila’ was designed for a young couple that wanted a house that didn’t look like a regular house to occupy a void left by the valley site. How do you choose the type of client or project to work on?
Spaceworkers: “We do not choose clients or projects, we accept all challenges, as we believe that any job is always an opportunity to try anything, sometimes even what you shouldn’t do. All projects in our office deserve a special place, and the same approach.
We don’t have a type of customer, or a type of project that we like to do more. Of course, there are customers that are easier to deal with than others, but all the challenges end up paying off.“
With a pragmatic vision to evaluate the context that surrounds any project and always appealing to perceive space in its sensorial dimension. What are the major issues or biggest challenges you have faced in the design process?
Spaceworkers: “The biggest challenge, in reality, is to convince the client that the project we present is actually the solution that we believe is the best for solving the problem they provided us with, as well as the needs of that place.
Once we overcome this challenge, the second biggest challenge is to achieve that the project gets built without changes, and above all, within the budget of the client. Here, the task is complicated and entitles you to some sleepless nights in search of solutions to accomplish the project and stay in budget.”
Having recently designed the concrete ‘Centro de Interpretação do Românico museum’ derived from the Romanesque architecture. What is the next step for the Spaceworkers studio?
Spaceworkers: “Fortunately, we have several projects under development, we have recently finished an auditorium for the city of Paredes, we have several houses in project, we are working on projects outside Portugal, and we have some multi-family building projects under development. We expect that in the future we will have some good news to share with those who like architecture.
We have several plans, we would like to try to develop more projects outside Portugal but it is not an easy task, we would also like to explore our social networks in order to reach new customers, and above all we want to return to public contests, as they are a good platform for testing ideas, which can always be revisited in future projects.
The biggest project for the future, is to be able to maintain our work team and protect ourselves from this pandemic scenario, which I believe will be the biggest challenge for the coming months.”
If you want to know more about Centro de Interpretação do Românico museum, don’t miss The Interpretation Centre of Romanesque by Spaceworkers.