Designing Another Layer to Mankind’s Landscape
Who influences you graphically?
I think my trajectory could be described as a way towards mastering complexity. After a brief period of hyperrealist experimentation, I realized I needed a higher level of control on each of the elements of the drawing. I started working with a very limited set or technics, and over the years I’ve added new ones that have allowed me to develop a more complex architectural discourse. I would say that I work with three great families of tools: lines, shadows and colours. Each of these families corresponds to a different influence.
The lines are probably my original tool. They come from my way of drawing during my childhood; I have always been interested in the precision of technical drawing and the almost magical ability of lines to bring up the shape.
My use of shadows and shades is mainly inspired by Le Corbusier’s sentence “Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses Brought together in light”. The shadows transform the initial lines of my drawings to produce volumes. It’s amazing how many things you can suggest about a shape through a well-placed shade.
Finally, colours are a relatively new design tool for me. My discourse on colours is largely inspired by the Fauvist non-figurative approach of colour. For me colouring is a project tool and not a mere attempt to represent reality.
Recently I have been experimenting more and more with textures, but I think it is too early to speak clearly about this new graphic element. My style keeps evolving with each new drawing.
How does this very stylized graphic approach define a specific concept which links all of your projects together?
The way I draw is equivalent to the way I design. I think the stylized appearance of my drawings simply comes from the humble yet ambitious need to master what I create. I’m aware that there is a very heated debate between advocates and opponents of figurative rendering. In my case, the experience has led me to think that the architectural drawing is not the built object itself, and therefore should be able to have its own language, to express things that are beyond the built object itself.
Today I always start working from very rudimentary renderings that do not go beyond shades as the base element of my drawings. Early in my career, I was fascinated by the level of hyperrealism allowed by the computer. I became a quite proficient 3d visualizer, but I ended up realizing that I needed to represent aspects of my architecture that were not displayable in a mere figurative drawing. That’s why instead of using a multitude of rendering parameters that were not really in control, I decided to use a shorter set of graphical skills that proved to be capable of transmitting more information about my projects in a precise way that didn’t lack a certain level of abstraction.
What dictates your colour palette for a given project? Why do you restrict your palette for each project to specific scheme?
Colours came to me on their own. I used to adhere to monochrome as most architecture students do, and this proved to be very convenient for my early works. But soon I started to feel constrained as my architectural approach was becoming more and more socially engaged.
I wanted my drawings to be able to express emotions, to get out of neutrality, but also I didn’t want to lose the level of mastership that allowed me my old style. In that sense my technique resembles XIXth century coloured postcards: colour always comes after lights and shadows and never the other way round. I always work with a very limited palette –one or two colours– that I further decline in function of light to create chromatic contrasts that do not necessarily meet reality. This allows me to create a dialogue between the elements of the composition that would not be possible if I worked only in black and white.
Regarding the choice of each colour, they just come to me very differently each time. Sometimes I am inspired by existing elements of the site; some other times I choose colours that I identify with certain emotions inspired by the project itself. For example, the combination of red and green is the result of my mixed feelings on the way of approaching ecology by the architecture of today. These feelings were a key element that defined my whole design approach so they needed to have an equivalent role in the representation.
What is the effect and purpose of using silhouettes compared to real life photographs of people?
I tend to be very reluctant to fill my drawings of people –I’d rather suggest the scale through other means–, but when the situation demands I tend to use silhouettes. There is an interesting ambiguity in silhouettes, an open dialogue, an unanswered question. It is not uncommon that I use this ambiguity in my projects. Sometimes I use photographs when the project involves an essential human presence. In such cases I take the pictures of the characters by myself and in a very precise way. I attempt to minimize the figurative component to transform the human being in an inseparable element of the project.
To what extent does the juxtaposition of photograph and line drawing help in inserting the project in an urban context? Or can this contrast be alienating?
For me the relationship between the project and its context is the relationship between what I control and what is beyond my control. I tend to make a difference between these two worlds as a way to highlight the project. On the other hand, I do not think there is a genuine harmonious fusion between architecture and its context. For better or worse the aspiration of the architect is to inevitably transform the world in which we live. At the same time, we rarely have the opportunity to work on the whole; we simply add another layer to the collage of the mankind’s landscape. I like to represent this will through this deliberate contrast.
Yusti Gómez Herrera is a young Architect born in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, both trained in France, the Canary Islands and Japan; he graduated in 2014 in ENSA Paris-Malaquais in Paris with first class honours. Among his most interesting projects he organized a participatory architecture project for the rehabilitation of a social centre in Tenerife. Right now he works in the ENSA Paris-Malaquais as a teacher while aiming to further his career in London.