The GEN Z Series travels from Welsh School of Architecture to De Montfort University in Leicester, England to meet a recently graduated M. Arch student Julia Lauri from Spain. She reveals, “I am from Malaga, a coastal city in southern Spain, where my family has owned a renowned ice cream shop in the fishermen’s town of Pedregalejo since 1952. I had attended a British school in Malaga. When I was 18, I moved to London to pursue architecture at the University of Greenwich. Connecting people, culture, nature, sustainability and architecture is one of my passions, which involve beauty and functionality combined in a unique way.”
Having graduated with a degree in Architecture, Julia Lauri pursued her Masters in Architecture at De Montfort University in Leicester. Her creativity and passion for architecture saw her coming out with flying colours with a distinction in her Masters. She enthuses, “My tutors inspired me to explore the intricate relationship between form and function, thereby encouraging me to push the boundaries of creativity, while ensuring practicality and sustainability.”
Johnny D interacts with the ever-smiling Julia Lauri to explore her journey into architecture and her award-winning Masters’ thesis ‘A Ballet of Land, Sea and Life through Sustainable Architecture, Pedregalejo’.
Site Study and Local Architecture
What was your childhood ambition? Did you always wanted to become an architect?
I always knew my future was going to be art related. One of the things I enjoyed the most was drawing and allowing my imagination to take control of the pencil ever since I can remember. Experimenting with techniques has always been one of my passions, whether trying different media, drawing digitally or using my camera. This is something I have noticed I keep doing in my current projects as well. Initially, I wanted to study Fine Arts. During a discussion with designers in my school, I was introduced to the idea of becoming an architect. The moment struck like a magical connection with architecture and here I am (smiles).
Final Model – I
How has architecture influenced your life as a student?
As an architectural student I have learnt many things throughout my university life. In my opinion, I would judge undergraduate differently to Masters. As an undergraduate student, I learned one of the most important things, loving architecture and allowing design to be one of my passions. This is the spark that will allow any student to give their time to this course. This passion and influence made me create a hierarchy in my own personal life, which meant I enjoyed giving most of my time to this course. As a Masters’ student, I would highlight the maturity that grows both personally and professionally as a project evolves, with all thanks to the support and confidence of my tutors.
Coral Conservation Centre Technical Study – I
Briefly tell us about your University and the Masters’ Course.
I have to say, the Masters’ course has been one of the best experiences I have ever had in my academic quest (smiles). The course is divided into two years, where students complete a design project together with other subjects, such as technology, dissertation, ADRS and Management Practice and Law. We received constant help from design and technical tutors throughout. This was accompanied by many workshops that DMU offer ranging from wood, metal, ceramics and plastics, digital and so on, that students can access and use for their projects.
Final Model – II
Briefly describe the significance of your project’.
My project titled ‘A ballet of land, sea and life through sustainable architecture’ was driven by the theme of “Wild City” and the belief in the collaboration between architecture and nature to address challenges faced by the chosen location of Pedregalejo, a historic fishermen’s town in Malaga, Spain, my hometown. The area had suffered from flooding due to the lack of breakwaters, and while their construction addressed the issue, it had disconnected the community from the sea.
Coral Conservation Centre Technical Study – II
The project’s aim is to address the ongoing coastal erosion, while promoting biodiversity by creating an artificial coral reef using bio-rock systems. The reef, designed to absorb wave energy, thereby preventing erosion and foster coral growth, became the focal point of my project. As it progressed, a parallel growth of terrestrial vegetation was encouraged on an organic designed roof.
Final Model – III
The architectural aspect of the project blended in the landscape, while creating spaces for the construction of the artificial coral reef, a diving centre and coral conservation centre for the future growth of the reef. The rest of the coast was dedicated to an undulating, yet elegant promenade to provide space for various activities. The buildings’ structure and foundation were constructed using a timber framework and screw piles due to the sandy ground. The whole idea was to create and inspire a “Wild City” that thrives in harmony with nature, thereby creating a sustainable legacy for future generations.
Coral Conservation Centre Technical Study – III
Which National or International architect has inspired / influenced you? Please specify as to why?
I would say that the architect that has influenced my design the most is Zaha Hadid. I believe my design develops into more organic shapes, while expressing elegance and sinuosity. I always tend to get inspired from her thought process while designing and understanding, how a final project would start from a sketch.
Final Model – IV
As an Intern, what is the most important lesson(s) you have learnt from senior architects, while being a part of a project?
I have not had the opportunity to work in an architectural practice, as my Part I was hit by COVID-19. I am currently looking to join a studio, where I can expand my knowledge and learn from experts in the sector. I am really looking forward to this new experience where I can assure to give the best of myself.
Will the younger generation of architects make innovative changes to mitigate the catastrophic effects of Climate Crisis? Elucidate your perspectives.
I am confident that the next generation of architects will make creative changes to the Climate Crisis. The importance of sustainability in architectural projects has grown and the University’s curriculum is now incorporating it. My personal academic experience considered sustainability and environmental impact when grading. Universities are working hard to increase student access to cutting-edge sustainable design tools and environmental knowledge. In their designs, this generation is well-positioned to give priority to sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental-friendly materials.
Initial 3D Printing Studies
Which significant aspects of the global platform ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ did you liked the most, and why?
It is exciting to see that ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ is giving voice to students and graduates in this challenging sector. I believe the younger generations will create innovative changes, both environmentally and socially, through architecture. It is path-breaking that ‘zerobeyond – the new frontier!’ allows youngsters to communicate and share our perspectives by showcasing our design creations.
3D printed Coral Structures
Local charm of cities has diminished due to Modern Architecture as every city looks alike and similar. How should architects / urban planners / landscape architects modernize cities, while maintaining the local charm intact?
In my opinion, architects, urban planners and landscape architects should look back at the individuality and essence of architecture and what made them unique at that time. Looking back at local architecture, design, construction methods and adapting to modern architecture together with re-using and rehabilitating buildings could be a prosperous possibility.
Time Vs. Growth
However, listening to people or communities’ ideas is a key strategy. It is the people that lived in these cities that know what the city needs or what it has already lost and needs reinstatement. Cities can develop while retaining their distinctive beauty by finding a balance between modernization and the local character.
Initial Site Models
Looking at the past in the current present, what are the futuristic architectural changes you would like to see in your home city / town? Elucidate the reasons for your vision.
Nowadays, tourism and modern architecture are having an immediate impact in Malaga’s cultural landscape. This issue is growing more prevalent in the city, where historical building demolition is also predominant. I would like to see a more sustainable and characteristic design approach for new architecture. However, and as investigated in a previous dissertation, most of Malaga’s past historic buildings are being demolished. Therefore, I think rehabilitation of historic buildings should be purposely investigated.
Rendering View – I
My latest project, located in my hometown, touches this idea by reincorporating the community back to the sea and by reducing coastal erosion using artificial coral reef that will eventually eliminate existing concrete barriers throughout the shores. This concept, together with the use of Bio-rock, a sustainable material will allow this idea to mitigate the effect of coastal erosion.
Rendering View – II
Honours and awards related to architecture, if any.
I am particularly proud of my final year project, which received many awards including the ‘MAKE Architects Prize’, as well as the ‘Christopherson Award’ in 2023. I was also nominated for the ‘3D Reid Prize’, a prestigious competition featuring one student from each UK architectural school. I had the privilege of being shortlisted as one of the five finalists, presenting my project to esteemed judges. My 2022 final project also received the ‘MAKE Architects Prize’ for ‘Design Excellence’ and was shortlisted for ‘Drawing of the Year 2022’ by Archisource.
Rendering View – III
Image Courtesy: Julia Lauri