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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