Quick Chat With Oscar Mira from Mercabarna Architects

Q.  Why did you choose architecture as your profession?

A.  When I was a kid I dreamt about being an inventor, not a fireman. I was always on the creative side of life: drawing, designing artefacts, creating graphics for video games, writing, programming, and always dreaming of how to shape the future. When it was the time to decide my future, and not before, I thought architecture had the perfect combination of creativity, art, science and reality to fulfil my dreams.

Q.  How would you describe your style?

A. It’s not easy in the changing and fast shifting world we are living in now. I always try to be empathetic with my designs, with the client, the surroundings, the environment, trying to make sustainable choices, with simplicity and functionality in mind. I’m more spiritually near to the modern movement than the post modernism or the façade-ism.  

Q. Where do you take inspiration from?

A. I think something is wrong if you need to look for inspiration. Inspiration will come through the plot, the location, the views, sun, trees, the client dreams and inquisitiveness, your own experience and background as an architect, your readings and culture, your own ideas on how to build better, how to build sustainable, the materials etc…

So you create and draw your first ideas, notes and sketches and inspiration floats into your head necessarily. And it flows because you have your own architecture library in your own mind, a mind full of plans, images, details, feelings and memories that you have been collecting since you were first interested in architecture, the ‘subconscious inspirations’. And I honestly think that you are choosing the wrong way if you need to come across someone else’s design looking for an inspiration kick-off.

Q.  What is your favourite structure in the world architecturally?

A. Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra and Stahl House by Pierre Koenig represents the kind of architecture I like. On that line of modern architecture: Eames or Craig Elwood houses, mid-modern designs and most Case Study Houses.

Q.  If you hadn’t become an architect, what other field would you have chosen?

A.  I would have been an industrial designer, something creative too.

Q.  What is the most exciting thing happening in architecture right now?

A.  I honestly think that at this very moment, there aren’t any exciting things happening regarding architecture and architects. Seems like there are no architectural movements in sight. It’s just a time of renderism and façadism that most of us are letting pass by and focusing on designing buildings that actually work and are functional, not pretty rendering sculptures for magazines. There is a seed of sustainability that is spreading through the architects so will it become a clear architectural movement with representatives in the future?

Q.  What changes do you see in the architectural industry over the coming decade?

A.  I think we are in a time when architecture has become ultra-dependent on technology so a lot of architects didn’t know how to project without computer aiding and guiding. If you can’t pick up a pencil and draw by your own hand what you are imagining, sketch a perspective, a structure or the building, so you need a computer to represent, validate and calculate it, are you on the right path? Why this building needs to be created that way, what’s your role here, or are you definitely dependent on computers? Therefore, what is your role in architecture then?

I think that some architects are returning to a rational use of technology, a mix between the traditional architect that is a creative mind and the useful computer tools that made our bureaucracy part of the profession fast and easy, so that dependency is finally broken.

While the tendency is to be more and more dependent on computers, from scratch and first sketch till the end of the design, addiction to realistic renderings and designing ‘iconic’ buildings where form overpasses functionality by 100% just to have the 10 minutes fame on blogs and magazines, I’m not on that wave.

Q.  What timeline into the future do you design to? 10-20-30 years?

A.  I’m always thinking about ‘the future’, while never thinking about ‘my future’ in architecture. It’s an evolving career and therefore I hope that the buildings I have designed and the ones I will design in the future are still functional, sustainable and appealing over the years. That’s my hope because now, architecture is an ephemeralness art, and this is incongruent because buildings last decades if not centuries.

Q. Is there an iconic building/structure you would make a change to? If so, what would that be?

A.  Oops, that’s a question without answer. For me it’s like trying to hair dress the David of Michelangelo or readdressing the lines of a Mondrian painting.

Q.  What’s your favourite building material to incorporate into your designs?

A.  Since some years ago and after using steel as a main component in most of my buildings, even studying prefab systems, I’m introducing timber, wood, as the main component, including structure. It’s a material with poor tradition in Spain, a country where majority of buildings are built with concrete, steel and bricks.


Oscar Mira Architect

Oscar Mira Architect