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VIEWS


ASK THE ARCHITECT


El Salvador-born Rodrigo Moreno Masey is founder of residential and commercial specialist studio MorenoMasey. Here he offers some illuminating thoughts on the role of the architect – both now and in the future


An industrial-styled residential commission in Barnes Rodrigo Moreno Masey


poses an infinite number of puzzles – from the interpretation of the client vision, through our response as architects and into the complexity of design and the detail needed to realise that vision. Each piece is a puzzle linked to the next.


WHY DID YOU BECOME AN ARCHITECT?


I suppose the honest answer is that I come from a long line of architects. In El Salvador in the 1970s, you only got to choose between doctor, lawyer or if you could draw, architect. So a lot of my extended family ended up there. I grew up surrounded by the idea of creating buildings, and became more and more interested in how the spaces we inhabit can affect the way people interact with them and with each other. I have been fascinated by the transition of space between two and three dimensions and how that translates at a human scale, and I guess architecture opens the door to those conversations.


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT IT MOST? I am, at heart, a problem solver. I am constantly trying to solve puzzles, in life, at home, at work. The interaction of the moving parts of people and complexity inherent in every day life is both intriguing and constantly challenging. Every project, on its journey from idea to occupation,


ADF DECEMBER 2018


WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF RUNNING A PRACTICE? I am extremely fortunate to have a very talented and dedicated team of architects and designers who share my passion for both the product and the process. Not everyone is so lucky and I think one of the biggest challenges the industry faces as a whole is ensuring that the architects of tomorrow are properly prepared for the real world challenges of architecture. Running a busy practice and maintaining the highest quality in everything you do relies entirely on the people in your team and you have to trust them to infect each project with a little piece of the practice DNA at every stage.


WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT AND WHY? I could tell you that it’s a building somewhere we built, I’m sorry, but its not. Really I think my greatest achievement is ahead of me. Without the unending support of my wife, both her humour and her honesty, throughout this process, none of what we have achieved would have been possible. And if together we can raise our three daughters as strong, happy, self


confident and independent women I think that will count as my greatest achievement.


DO YOU ENJOY HELPING CLIENTS TO CHALLENGE THEMSELVES WITH WHAT’S POSSIBLE? We help brave people, who understand the value of good design to create exceptional spaces. I like to think that challenging our clients is what we are being asked to do, at every step of the process. We don’t work with clients who want an architect to churn out information. The challenge has to be a dialogue. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we do understand that we can present an alternative way of thinking about complex problems and ultimately translate that way of thinking into physical space. That, surely, is what good architecture is?


WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT, DIPLOMACY OR TRYING TO AVOID COMPROMISES?


I’m not sure I have ever seen the two as opposing parts of the design process. I think that the greatest tacticians avoid compromise through diplomacy. Diplomacy is a tool, one of the many tools that we sharpen and use as necessary to achieve our goals and realise the greater vision. Good architecture is a collaboration of many skills and people and it is blind arrogance to assume that we have all the answers. Compromise does not have to dilute, it is a great force for good.


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