Interview: Martin Cajade on Uruguayan architecture

We've talked to Mar­tin Cajade (pro­fes­sor, Taller Velázquez, FADU, Ude­laR) about archi­tec­ture pro­fes­sion, edu­ca­tion and relat­ed topics.

This year Mar­tin is going to vis­it Rus­sia in a reg­u­lar trip with a group of archi­tec­tur­al stu­dents from the Uruguayan Uni­ver­si­ty of the Republic.

DMTRVK: What is the main pur­pose of high edu­ca­tion in archi­tec­ture, from your point of view?

Mar­tin Cajade: The main pur­pose should be to train future cre­ative minds to con­tribute in mak­ing a more sus­tain­able, cul­tur­al­ly rich­er and more rep­re­sen­ta­tive built environment.

What are the main things you’ve learned in archi­tec­ture school? (The basis you start­ed your career from.)

I have learned not only to dis­cov­er val­ue in the built and nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment (a “lens” to appre­ci­ate my sur­round­ings), but also the means to imag­ine its trans­for­ma­tion and pur­sue its fabrication.

What you wish you should’ve learnt in school, but some­how passed, or it wasn’t present there — which you then got from fur­ther practice?

Maybe new ways of fab­ri­cat­ing: a deep­er tech­no­log­i­cal view on the dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion and "mak­er" culture.

What is the ide­ol­o­gy of your school?

It's root­ed in a Beaux Art tra­di­tion, but with a strong sci­en­tif­ic and left-think­ing dosis, obtained along the XXth century.

What is the design tech­nique (approach to doing archi­tec­ture) you’ve been taught in school, and how does it cor­re­spond to what you’re fac­ing at work?

We have a clas­si­cal approach analysing pro­gram and mak­ing dia­grams to get to basic floor plans and mod­el mak­ing (3d or phys­i­cal) from there. Its has been so far the way it is done in pro­fes­sion­al practice.

On the pre­sen­ta­tion: what are the trends of pre­sen­ta­tion, what do you think about them? How do you present your projects, what is more impor­tant to you?

In our aca­d­e­m­ic and pro­fes­sion­al envi­ron­ment, visu­als are the reign­ing trend in pre­sen­ta­tions. Just basic floor plans, sec­tions and very well pro­duced visu­als. I thinks it is a direct way of show­ing a client or col­league what the designs would look like. For me it is not the most stim­u­lat­ing method: I pre­fer dia­grams, axono­met­ric views and more com­plex graph­ics that not only show mul­ti­ple angles of the build­ing but also an ongo­ing and open process of imagination.

In Rus­sia we still stick to show­ing the projects on boards (1000x1000mm, 1400x1000mm, etc. — very tra­di­tion­al), which may be dif­fer­ent in your coun­try. Why is it so, how has eng­lish prac­tice came to that? How are archi­tec­tur­al projects shown at exhi­bi­tions in your place?

We also stick to the project board as a was to com­mu­ni­cate archi­tec­ture. In Uruguay for instance, sizes are relat­ed to DIN stan­dards: A1, A2, A3, etc…

The KoozArch project: what do they rep­re­sent, from your point of view?

A mul­ti­ple, diverse and col­lec­tive pro­duc­tion in the realm of archi­tec­ture and urban thinking.

Late­ly we see a lot of imag­i­na­tive projects done by British stu­dents. Why do you think this kind of projects are important?

I think imag­i­na­tive projects push the dis­ci­pli­nary bound­aries in oth­er — and fun­da­men­tal — ways that the con­struc­tion or more ground­ed projects do not pur­sue. In the his­to­ry of archi­tec­ture and urban­ism, unre­al­is­tic or imag­i­na­tive projects play a cru­cial role in mak­ing us think about the built envi­ron­ment and new ways of estab­lish­ing a rela­tion­ship with it.

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