Drawings That Reveal The Unique Poetry Behind a Design
Who influences you graphically?
I´ve never had a defined graphic muse. I admire the provocative representation of utopias and mechanisms by Archigram and Lebbeus Woods as well as the use of multiple perspective and backgrounds layers in Japanese prints. However in terms of learning how to communicate a story behind a project I’ve been also influenced by literature and fairytales, not only focusing in the illustrations side, but also in the way a space is narrated in an specific context, and here I can name a couple of examples that had shaped the way I draw, such us ‘Invisible Cities’ from Italo Calvino, ‘Cocaine Nights’ from J.G. Ballard or ‘Fictions’ from Borges, (this last one has really left its mark on me).
What dictates the graphic approach to a specific project?
I agree that every specific brief should use an explicit graphic and architectural language. Normally you only have a couple of bullets to shoot, so the process of digesting the complexity involved in the design approach is extremely important in order to choose a type of graphic representation that allows you to narrate your ideas into the drawing. For some projects the graphics might be related with the inhabitation atmosphere, political / economical background, a certain time frame, culture, location, etc.. It all depends in the unique poetry behind the design.
What is your work process in terms of programs used?
I don’t believe in any magical oven where you set up the parameters to get a final image, so I think mixing different technics is the way forward to get the most out of it. Don´t get me wrong, raw rendering can be a really powerful asset for realistic representation, but unfortunately the only way of graphically representing the entire complexity of a design is combining sources. In my case I mostly mix hand drawing with computational tools. Once I have worked out a clear design and a final drawing strategy I normally jump into a high-defined Rhino 3d model, where I overlay different perspectives and detailed sections. Then I possibly add by hand more layers of complexity and information before giving the final artisan touch in ‘Photoshop’ to get the correct lighting, texture and colour atmosphere. If the drawing requires a more infographic approach I will also use a bit of ‘Illustrator’ to get close to a mapping aesthetic.
To what extent does colour have the power of manipulating the way an image is perceived? What dictates the choice of colours you chose for a project?
As well as AutoCAD, 3d programs, and hand drawing, the use of colour is a different tool used to add additional information or to achieve the atmosphere required in a certain image. For example with a simple desaturation you can place the image observer in a certain moment of time. The colour code chosen for a certain project should be related with the narrative involved even if sometimes this means separating from a realistic spectrum. The palette decision can be related with the ‘mindset’ that you want to explore, becoming an extremely powerful tool if you have contradictory ideas or a gradient of changing atmospheres through the design timeline. Also in some cases is the project identity the one driving it’s graphics and colours, for example exploring publicity boards or revolution propaganda can be really interesting if the project has political implications.
You explore all means of representation, is there any one you value more than others? Why so?
Is true that in the journey I’ve used many different representation tools, I there is an specific purpose for each of them. Colllages fore example are a media that can be certainly useful in a concept design stage. They allow you to quickly put your ideas together without compromising yet in the design. In the other hand, in a final phase, creating a complex three-dimensional image can give you the complexity needed to show the amount of detail and decisions taken in early stages. However I strongly believe that every single project needs to graphically adapt itself in order to explore the best way of communicate the narrative behind it.
Cuban integrity has been suffering from several political and economic inconsistencies. The economic wealth of the island has been rooted in financial dependence on a major country, producing collateral damage in its national identity.
Although Cuba has been a Communist country since 1959, in May 2014 a sum of $8.7 billion of foreign capital investment was report. Six months later, on 17th December 2014, US President Barack Obama announced the establishment of a closer relationship with the Cuba government and a possibility of lifting the economic embargo. This polemical situation offers the ingredients for a constructive speculation about Havana´s future urban growth.
The current controversial evolution of the capital architecture is based on rehabilitation and recreation of fake neo-colonial scenes in order to satisfy tourist expectations. The city is hence losing its architectural meaning and identity by trying to replicate an exaggerated “postcard” image of Havana. However, within the processes of urban planning, a localised zone in Old Havana still seem to be free from the expectations of capital growth.
This identified area can function as a core for Cuban identity preservation, evolving against the new globalised Havana elsewhere in the city centres. Urban density can be radically increased in this self-manage Cuban community due to the foreign demand for housing rental within the heavy touristic areas. O´Reilly Street, one of the most historic commercial routes, adjoins the south of this protected region, creating a tension edge between the two regimes. Through controlled foreign investment, renewed commercial activities will be re-introduced into the ground level of this street, forcing the pushing up of the displaced living floors above the newly profitable commercial programs, provoking a physical barrier in the vertical axis.
Ones the Cuban government has increased and repaired its national economy, it will be ready to explore its social values in an effective manner through a new Re-Evolution based on providing a genuinely independence economic system. Local management processes, social education provision, and more sustainable agricultural practices will help to establish a self-sufficient socioeconomic model that contributes to citizens’ living standards.
The architectural aspect in this initiative will start by pushing back from the boundary of the ‘virgin’ core in Old Havana, reconquering the land lost through the spread of foreign trade. This reclaiming of Cuban identity will be reflected in the recovery of street life, with O’Reilly Street as the first location for agro-education platforms between its facades, providing new public spaces and additional food supplies for the neighbourhood. The architectural elements will reinforce the narrative of materializing the social aspect of Cuban identity as well as emphasizing the poetry of the State feeding Cuban new generations.
Sir John Soane_Materialising the Incomplete
The material interpretation in architecture has a reciprocal connection with the physical perspective. However, “matter” definition in philosophy terms is facing the palpable relation with form, early applied to Plato’s term “eidos”, by witch he identified the permanent reality that makes a thing what it is, opposing to the particulars that are finite and subject to change. Matter is carrying meaning and can only be understood in a specific space, time and cultural environment. The renderization of an environment inside and environment provokes a series of consequences. In Sir John Soanes project, the Bank of England columns grown in an inverse gravidity interacting with the materiality of the room and controlling that speculative degradation repercussion collecting a catalogue of reactions.
Manuel qualified as an architect in the European University of Madrid (UEM), and gained an MArch from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL in 2015 having being awarded Distinction for both Design and Thesis projects.
In the profesional aspect, he has previously worked for ‘Alvarez-Sala’ and ‘Andrés Perea Arquitecto’ design studios in Spain, specialising in sustainability and Zero Energy design projects. He is currently working in Tigg Coll Architects (TCA), a young innovatve practice based in west London.
Manuel also has a keen interest in academia and has collaborated as an external tutor with UEM, and FADU Universities as well as being invited as a critict to the Architectural Association (AA) Inter 3 final jury.
Merging two architectural educations has allowed him to developed a more complex understanding in design and graphic expression, absorving contrasting techniques from different backgrounds and styles such us Cj Lim ( Unit 10) or NaJa & de Ostos ( Unit 18).
Apart from expressing a big interest in energy production design and sustainability paradigm he has been exploring the implication of economy and politics in architecture in his final thesis, `inCUBAting capitalism´.