Winners of NOA South America

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15 September, 2014
Winner team of NOA South America competition

Alejandro Fernández-Linares and José María Ordovás, winners of Nature Observatory of Amazonia (NOA) South America international architecture competition, have given us this interesting interview.

1.- Why do you decide to take part in our NOA South America architecture competition?

ALEJANDRO FERNÁNDEZ-LINARES- Arquideas has a convenient format, an extremely suggestive program and an attractive prize. We already knew Arquideas and we really liked the previous competitions; personally I found Juhee Han IMOA’s proposal very beautiful and elegant. We were looking to introduce ourselves to an architectural competition and Arquideas seemed the best option for us. 

JOSE MARÍA ORDOVÁS- I knew about Arquideas from our colleagues from school that took part on previous competitions. Immediately loved the format of the competition. One A1 board makes the designer to synthesize it’s content. In the end it’s a competition that could be easily combined with other activities, the inscription fee wasn’t exorbitant therefore it was very attractive.

2.- Tell us about your project...Would you like the proposal to become a reality?

A. + J.M.- The proposal is based on three aspects that come together: the ability to adapt to multiple sceneries (as it is necessary in the wildlife), the security and physical isolation from the natural world as protection from other species and the capacity of being able to experience a 360 view.

The proposal turned out to be a system and we believe this is where the potential lies, because it can be developed around the river, or throughout various stations or even in land.

Of course we would like to see it become a reality, we believe the monetary cost wouldn’t be too radical, although several studies would need to be made, such as the specific locations where it would be implemented and the structural design to ensure it’s successful building. We know it is possible and thanks to the simplicity and adaptability of the design it could be implemented gradually throughout the Amazonas or any other river. It would be interesting to start a prototype and if it is successful, take it to a bigger scale. For that, some resources are necessary then support and of course our will.

3.- What do you think that has been more important to conceive your proposal? The education at ETSAM or at Illinois Institute of Technology?

A.- The education systems are completely different but at the same time complementary. It is probable that without both of them we wouldn’t have gotten the first prize or even decided to participate. The most important part of my architectural education I owe to the ETSAM, but we should not underestimate the IIT. In just one year, the IIT helped me become more open-minded, it gave me new points of view and new ways to approach architecture. My architectural experience in Chicago and IIT was outstanding, we had classes at the Mies’s Crown Hall, we ate at Koolhaas’s MTCC and we lived surrounded by skyscrapers designed by SOM, Mies, Burnham etc.

J.M.- I think my experience in Chicago was significantly positive and very enriching. Passing our time surrounded by one of the most interesting and famous Mies’s buildings and learning in a different college system it’s already a vital experience.

I personally own the success of the competition to ETSAM, my parents and some professors from CEU School of architecture.

4.- What are the differences between the education at ETSAM and Illinois Institute of Technology? 

A.- The ETSAM has a very high level of education, you have to work really hard, so the results achieved by the students are brilliant. They teach us to be the best ones out there; the ETSAM has and produces some of the best professors. The American universities and most universities around the world have Spanish professors at the highest positions. In fact, Iñaki Ábalos is the head of the Department of Architecture at the Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, which is the best educational institution in the world. We must appreciate what we actually have.

My criticism to our system at ETSAM, as I have mentioned before, is that the way of teaching is very discouraging. The professors’ critiques are very harsh and it is difficult to ever get recognized for hard work, or for anything really. The architectural career is very long and if after six years of hard work you don’t get positive motivation from your professors, you can end up doubting yourself and your actual potential.

The American system rewards excellence and hard work, and that motivates us as students to keep working and to put more effort in our work every time. It is also much more practical and has more resources but that’s a different subject, related with the small number of students per class and also the amount of money that each institution has.

J.M.- Absolutely.

They have opposed approaches on the idea of how to educate an architect.( also their own problematic and scenarios are quite different).

And I found this very amusing because when IIT was starting to be known in the rest of the US and in the world was just when Mies’s curriculum was implemented, it was very rigid but thoughtful system, they were the odd kids in the block and after Mies was fired the IIT as an institution tried to live on his fame rather than rethinking their spirit.

A varied set of thinkers its what makes ETSAM known outside of Spain. In a different manner and direction compared to Mies’s curriculum ETSAM proposes multiple and sometimes even contradictory paths for architecture students to take.

After all, learning is confronting contradiction.

I would say that such an eclectic and varied offer comes from the wonderful generation of architects that taught and built in Spain after the Spanish civil war. 

Francisco Sáenz de Oiza, Miguel Fisac, Alejandro de la Sota, Fernando Higueras with Antonio Miró ,Javier Carvajal the outstanding duo of José Antonio Corrales and Ramón Vazquez Molezún among many others built a laboratory for architecture rather than standard school of architecture.

This experience probably led to a very endogamic system but it beneffited the master-student methodology that I think it’s vital for anyone that it’s truly interested in architecture.

5.- How have been your experience with Arquideas?

A.- I give it an “A”. It is a great way to learn, to know and to prove yourself. It is a high level competition, with proposals from all around the world, and it is really interesting to see the different approaches from different people to the same problem. Competitions are vital in an architect’s career, so I think it is essential to start experiencing them as soon as possible. I encourage everyone to participate. After winning the first prize, I appreciate the hard work that Arquideas does in order to spread our proposal in many magazines and websites. I think that is the most valuable part of the prize.

J.M.- Very positive; starting with the quality of the jury to the Arquideas staff. They’ve treated us in a kind and efficient way answering all our questions, doubts and letting us know of when and who was publishing our proposal.

Thank you friends!

Learn more about the project clicking here.



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我对南美建筑并不了解,但我观看了此次活动。评论/ 分享它让更多人观看并了解艺术。


Oh, great, your article gives me useful information and a fresh perspective on the subject.
wings io


Muy interesante la entrevista!
La verdad que la experiencia de participar en un concurso es muy gratificante y sin duda lo mejor es la espera hasta el veredicto del jurado para poder ver todas las soluciones que se han adoptado para el enunciado dado.
Yo, junto a un par de compañeros nos hemos presentado al IWC y estamos deseando verlas!
Un abrazo y mucha suerte en vuestra trayectoria!