Talking with renowned Spanish architect Fran Silvestre, we reflect on his personal relationship with the profession and its future. He recalls what it was like to work at the studio of Pritzker prizewinner Álvaro Siza’s, tells us about his current projects and reveals which building has always fascinated him.
How would you define your current relationship to architecture? Throughout your life, how has your take on the art and your relationship to it evolved?
It never ceases to amaze me. I never fully used to grasp the idea of a creative and technical vocation. Now, however, I have realised over time that working in what you love, seeing how the story you come up with, begins as a sketch and then, perhaps, in a few years gets built and you can stand inside it… is an incredible thing.
In your work, you always highlight the search for precision, the use of light, the continuity of shapes… If you had to define your architecture, what would you underscore?
All architectural projects from a practice aim to seek purity in form through a language which, like an architectural grammar, tends to systematise the process. It’s less to do with style, which would be calligraphy, and more to do with concept: a series of shapes or pieces that through internal experimentation have led to different projects that are now built or being constructed.
The influence of Siza and Alfaro is direct and clear in your career but, what other creators have inspired you over the years? Which names are benchmarks for you today?
Different people linked to the world of design, for example the work of the sculptor Andreu Alfaro or the architect Alvar Aalto.
Talking about Siza, which sensation or memory do you link to those years alongside a Pritzker prizewinner?
It was a lot of responsibility from the start. When I got there as a recent graduate, I worked on all the projects in Spain—the Paseo del Prado, Panticosa… I remember going to meetings and being under lots of pressure, but in the end you learn so much.
How would you define architecture in the world today? Where do you think it is heading?
Architecture represents different challenges that you need to adapt to: technological change that is becoming more important in architecture; adapting to new sociocultural realities; responding to change and taking on climate change by presenting ever more efficient projects.
Is there a building that brings time to standstill whenever you see it?
The Alhambra in Granada.
And a project you dream of building?
A civil project maybe…
What projects is the practice currently working on?
We are currently working on different large-scale projects: a residential complex in Qingdao with homes, an art gallery, a spa and different service buildings for the complex; a hotel in Croatia on Vis island, and a factory and showroom in Nigeria. In Spain, we are working on a project for three housing developments in València, Castellón and Murcia.