Lausanne and Buenos Aires-based RDR Architectes was established by Jacques Richter and Ignacio Dahl Rocha in 1993. Currently, the new generation of architects, having being trained under the able-leadership of the co-founders head the company with a renewed vision.
The Buenos Aires office is led by co-founder Ignacio Dahl Rocha and Facundo Morando, Partner and Director. The ‘Estancia Morro Chico’ in Patagonia, the mixed-use building ‘Palacio Paz XXI’, the ‘Plaza Houssay’ in Buenos Aires, ‘Chemin des Bosquets’ in Pully and the ‘Villa au Bord du Lac Léman’ in Préverenges, Switzerland are some of the magnificent works led by Facundo Morando for RDR Architectes.
Facundo Morando is fond of imparting knowledge to budding architects. From 2007 to 2010, he has had a stint at the FADU – Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urban Planning at the University of Buenos Aires. Alongside Ignacio Dahl Rocha and Bruno Emmer, he has taught at the Torcuato Di Tella University in 2011. Johnny D talks to Facundo Morando about the recent project ‘Barlovento’.
When you look back at your childhood ambition, did you always wanted to be an architect? How has been your journey so far to make a name in the world of architecture?
I was in the middle of High School, when I became very interested in architecture. From there, I tried to guide all my learning to arrive more prepared for the university. During my architecture career, I admired the great stars of architecture with the desire to look like them when I grew up (smiles). Looking for a service architecture that stands out for being rational, committed and with which customers feel identified, I changed my focus a little. I believe, our architecture represents the conversations of the studio, the differences and has strengthened, and thanks to the whole team.
Briefly enlighten our esteemed readers about the ‘Barlovento’ project.
The project responds to the problem of the high sound pollution of the Avenida del Libertador, through the implantation and shape of the buildings, the position of the living spaces, and the treatment of the façades. At the same time, it seeks to enhance the qualities of the site offering multiple views of the Río de la Plata.
Located on Avenida del Libertador, the building offers multiple options for entertainment and commercial offerings. At the same time, thanks to its access through Vicente López Street. It will allow its future residents to enter the intimacy of a true neighborhood of Buenos Aires on a more domestic and welcoming scale.
The project consists of 2 towers with 66 apartments, all with impressive panoramic views and architecture at the service of well-being. The project recognizes the need to offer a distinctive element on the great avenue. These vertical gardens guarantee solar protection by improving thermal regulation and contribute to the privacy of the lower units on the avenue.
As one of the Buenos Aires branch heads, what do you demand from the team members during the planning stage?
Our focus is to have the best architects in the Studio and motivate them to do their best work. For this, we highly value the participation of all the members of the study. We encourage them to present ideas and work with them constructively and critically that improve the work we do as a team. We also believe, it is necessary in the initial stages to work with variants, different approaches that help to compare, choose and distinguishing greater criteria.
What are the major challenges you foresee from the planning stage to the execution of the project on the real grounds?
The economic instability of our country strongly affects the real estate market and therefore, our work. There are processes in Argentina that go very fast and faster than we would like. We believe that projects need time to mature well. Many times, we must work in processes with very limited times, necessary to quickly test the product in the market. Then, if the product sells well, there is time to do a good project development.
How do you overcome them creatively?
You learn to adapt and go faster. It can be very frustrating, especially in collaborative processes. One with this experience has greater resources, but the younger ones take longer to enter the dynamics, and it is more difficult for them to feel integrated into the discussions. Technology and BIM programs are excellent tools that better accompany these processes.
Describe the ‘Elegance of Design’ of the ‘Barlovento’ project from an architect’s perspective?
Elegance is something that characterizes us and generally comes naturally. We are not behind elegance. We are interested in ensuring that the spaces have a good proportion and generate a pleasant climate. We trust in the material investigation and we know how it contributes to the project. We believe in meticulous detailing of architecture and we approach them with great responsibility. Not only that, but also we trust in the processes and good development of the project that consists of carefully attending to all the elements that make great buildings.
Please mention 5 major ‘Sustainability’ features you incorporated in the project.
For a building to behave well with the environment, it is also necessary to do some basic things well. Orient a building well and if it is not well oriented, protect it adequately. It is also important to make a compact project that will reduce your heat loss or gain according to the season of the year. We also harvest rainwater that is used for irrigation and the heating system is with pellet boilers.
The building invites users to a biophilic experience that brings nature closer to everyday life. The architecture is complemented by the vegetation through its vertical gardens that favor sustainability and enrich, by contrast, the character of the building’s clean lines.
What is the total area, estimated cost and the ‘design-to-construction’ time period of the project?
The total area of the project is 13,000 sq. m. The cost of the project is estimated around $13,000,000. The project will be completed in 4 years’ time.
Please elucidate the use of BIM in the project. Briefly highlight the advantages BIM has brought to architecture in recent times.
The Studio has been working with BIM programs since the last 20 plus years. I think that according to the user, the benefits are greater and effective. It is a great tool for a project, since it simultaneously allows verifying, plan, sections and 3D models. It is an agile program that also allows you to make diagnoses of the behavior of the building, facilitates the construction of carpentry sheets and calculation of materials.
How would you describe the role and significance of the conscientious efforts of the civil / structural engineers in this project?
In our case, we think the architecture with the structure simultaneously. We understand that it is a fundamental part of the project. The involvement of good advisers is very important, especially for structures. They always become very rich conversations. Especially, this building has some critical stresses especially due to the pressure of the wind. The structure plays a significant role in the language of the building.
Climatic catastrophes have seen major smart cities, including desert cities around the world being destroyed in the recent times. How can or will architecture overcome such destruction to safeguard the community at large?
I believe that the construction in the last years has collaborated in the contamination and therefore in the climatic reactions. We must have greater awareness. Recover good habits, go back to the history of architecture, and rethink those solutions that benefit from the climate and do not ignore it. The solutions are at our fingertips. We must just go back to the books and stop thinking that air-conditioning solves everything.
How has the pandemic changed the process of working in the field of architecture in Buenos Aires?
It is a good question that is still too early to answer. For now, people have been expelled from the city center in search of green spaces. But our city does not have good planning for this phenomenon. Thousands of cars enter and leave the city every day, and the situation is getting worse. Surely, there is going to be a return to the city for obvious reasons, but the city has to offer something new. They must cover green spaces, make a greater mix of uses and guarantee good quality housing in the city center as well. We must take advantage of this opportunity to better plan the growth of the city and avoid emptying.
Describe the emotions when RDR’s project wins an international award.
It is always nice that others recognize your work. Generally, these awards are given by colleagues that are of great value, but there is greater gratification even with the positive reaction of our clients. Especially, when ‘what we do is architecture for the city and the citizen’. When ‘what we do has a great impact on people’, we have triumphed! We trust that architecture can improve people’s quality of life. When we achieve this goal, our work is paid off!
How would you describe Morando Facundo as a leader and a person?
I consider myself a calm person and a good listener. I always try to teach by example and I am attentive to the needs of others. When I focus on my work, I completely abstract myself from what is happening around me. I enjoy my work! My experience when designing is like what I had when I was playing as a kid. A good leader brings out the best in his teams. He enhances his abilities. I think it is very important to build a dialogue, where we all participate.
Please state 5 recent awards RDR Buenos Aires has won.
XVII Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura de Buenos Aires. Landscape – Architecture Award: Plaza Houssay, Buenos Aires;
III International Biennial of Argentine Architecture. Professionalism and innovation: Lote 9 Buenavista Office Park, Buenos Aires;
III International Biennial of Argentine Architecture. Landscape an City: Distinguished. Ampliacion y renovación, sedeAlcorta, Universidad TorcuatoDitella;
III International Biennial of Argentine Architecture. Technique and Industry: First Prize. Shearing shed, Estancia Morro Chico, Santa Cruz; and
Award for the best action on Built Heritage 2014 for the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
Image Courtesy: RDR Architectes