The Dimensions of Design
The ability to not repeating yourself as an architect is not easily gained; it’s a day-to-day effort, according to Mexican-based architects, Carlos Lassala and Guillermo Orozco of Lassala + Orozco Associates. By Priyal Sood
Designers Guillermo Orozco and Carlos Lassala’s work encompasses Mexico City’s upbeat and luxurious ambiance, incorporated in residential and hospitality architecture and construction, renovations, the design of fine furniture, and swimming pools as well as the adaptive reuse of historic structures.
SCALE had the opportunity to interview Guillermo and Carlos to learn more about the design approach towards different projects, the importance of light and shadows during the design process, and the significance of conceptualizing a space according to the client’s way of life.
SCALE: How did the journey of Lassala + Orozco Associates begin?
Guillermo: We started working together on a project for an architectural competition. Carlos was my teacher in college at that time and we seemed to get along pretty well. His architectural proposals as an experienced architect were, in my point of view, very close to what I believed good architecture should be. During the process of designing this residential building located in Lima, Peru, for the competition, we talked about the idea of working together permanently. A few months later, we started working together in a studio that would later evolve into Lassala+Orozco Arquitectos.
Carlos: A common standard in our proposals is the use and understanding of lighting. Rhythmic light and shadows in their different forms (diffused or solid) in order to generate different effects on walls and volumes. Among other resources, this is the most important in our work.
Guillermo: Our design proposal and concepts are diverse in every architectural or interior design approach. Light (whether natural or artificial), color, textures, and spaces, based on the results of studying every particular situation for the project, are what give us the lead in any proposal.
SCALE: Where do you gain inspiration from? Are you inspired by other architects/designers?
Carlos: Of course. Mexican architects like José de Yturbe Bernal y, Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas with whom I worked in SMA over ten years. The Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza is also a continuous reference.
Guillermo: We certainly admire a series of architects and their work – they are truthfully an inspiration and a referent – but not only architects and designers. Musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, and nature have been, and I believe will continue to be, an important source of inspiration for us.
SCALE: Looking back at your experience, how would you describe your design style as? What is the importance of versatility for a designer?
Carlos: My particular style has a lot of influence from Luis Barragán, because of his influence on Juan and Javier Sordo Madaleno and on José de Yturbe. Barragán has had a strong influence in architecture in general, plus his own convictions acquired through the years define, in my opinion, a style of Brutalist Mexican Architecture, with the fusion of ideas and tendencies from several other places all around the world.
From this quantity of information that architects nowadays have access to, plus all the advances in terms of technology for project design and the development of construction, lead architects to being extremely versatile, keeping us updated.
Guillermo: Our style has been constantly evolving but maintaining certain values that are meaningful to us. Materials, light, the importance of slowly discovering spaces and contrasts in our architecture have not changed. The ability to not repeating yourself as an architect is not easily gained; it’s a day-to-day effort.
The importance of being versatile in our proposals is just as important as the respect we have for our clients, who are all unique and different, having different needs and tastes. We believe that the understanding of those differences and the respect we have for each one of them requires us to be as versatile as we can.
SCALE: How do you approach a project? Could you walk us through your preparations before meeting a client and the design process after committing to a project?
Carlos: Five points that are important to have present before a meeting for a new project
- Understanding of the program, if it is already known
- The location, the orientation, the site, and its analysis (Locus)
- Study of the local regulations and restrictions
- Historical research of the location, its climate, and geography
- Analyzing the characteristics, tastes, occupation needs, etc., that you can get from the client
Guillermo: Every project is different and has its own path. We normally study the clients and what are their intentions with their specific project. It’s a process where we like to listen and research a lot before we design. In order to be prepared, we always have a series of questions. That is our starting point. In our process, we will find the answers through designing.
SCALE: Casa CC, one of your most ethereal projects draws inspiration from a cube for its layout and elevation. Could you please tell us more about the concept, creative process, and materials used?
Carlos: The project arises from the research of the specific characteristics of the client and the terrain’s location, its views, and topography. The client is a high-end Mexican athlete whose work requires every day a great courage; to be capable of risking, and daring to beat the dangers, and obtain the triumphs. But arriving at his house requires finding tranquillity and stability. Thus, the geometric elements that have been utilized in the process were stable and solid, with the exception of the cube of access that, in its lateral turn and inclination to the front, showcases the daring, bold, and risk-taking spirit of his profession.
Guillermo: The inspiration came from the client himself. We represented him and his family in the house. This great entrance with the tilted travertine marble cube comes out rather strongly, protecting and receiving every “outsider” from the rest of the house, that expresses itself in stability opposing the geometry of the main entrance. The entrance cube is a sculptural space, a transition from the outside that prepares you to enter the house. In a way, it’s a small tribute to an unbuilt building by Vasco Rossi. Materials in general in the house are marble, stucco, glass, and iron.
SCALE: What are some of the adaptations you are implementing with regard to the complete design procedure and resourcefully assisting your clients?
Carlos: We try to be avant-garde in regard to the materials and new products. So much in the project, as in the construction, is always advised and surrounded by a group of professional specialists in their respective fields, who help us choose the best decisions for benefit of our clients.
Guillermo: We try to be updated with the technologies involved in the designing process. This gives us the possibility of having the best information for decision making in every subject about the house or building. Obviously, we work with specialists in every topic that is needed. In a way, different perspectives are constantly taken into account when decisions have to be made.