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Interview with Spanish Architect José María Sánchez Garcí
During June 2017, Milan hosted a week-long architecture festival dedicated to the exploration of the future in urban cities and their architecture. Milano arch week was a seven-day program of activities and events, hosted by the city, alongside La Triennale Di Milano and Politecnico Di Milano.
As media partners of the event, met with the panel of invited creatives and discussed their approach to the subject. One of the participants was Spanish architect José María Sánchez García who formed his own Madrid-based practice in 2006, and is currently an associate professor in architecture at the polytechnic university of Madrid and a visiting professor at the accademia di architettura of Mendrisio. Read our interview below, where Sánchez García shared his views on the way architecture is currently taught, contemporary Spanish design, and how he thinks technology will influence the future of architecture. 

(Q): As an architect and a professor, what do you think of the way architecture is taught to today’s students?
José María Sánchez García (JS): The future belongs to students, and somehow professors must manage to learn from them, and the new possibilities and technologies they are open to. Professors are the older generation in charge of opening the eyes of the newer generations, and they must show them the possible opportunities awaiting for them.

Q: During the past two decades, technology has had a huge influence in all fields, including architecture. How do you describe this impact, and what would be the best way to approach technology applied to architecture?
JS: technology can’t be stopped. We have to adapt and use it as a tool for architects. Maybe students aren’t always approaching a project in the classical way — eg. Working with plans, sections, or construction details. Today we see students focusing more on the imagery aspect of a project. We are working in a graphic society, where images are more important and we as professors must help students to manage this approach. In the end, it’s all about creating good architecture.

Q: According to your criteria as an architect and professor, what are the main principles an architect must consider when addressing a project?
JS: Architecture is something so complex that it is difficult to have a golden rule or a single approach to all projects. In my opinion, it is very important to understand all the rules — everything involved with the process and the context of the site — and with that complexity try and simplify it to get answers. What is dangerous in architecture is when the complexity we deal with ends up with a complex program. We have to realize it is always present, but us as architects must answer with a simple order.

Q: What are your thoughts on Spanish architecture today, and what direction do you feel it is headed towards on the global stage?
JS: In my opinion, every region in Spain has a different ideal and methodology. Every architecture school is different, but they all share one thing in common. The common point in Spanish architecture is designing and building with persistence; how to deal with what is already there. We are talking about archeological persistence, natural persistence, and urban persistence. The answer to this complexity is to move the barriers.
Q: What is the reaction you expect from visitors who approach and enter your work?
JS: When you are working with architecture that is re-urbanizing and creating new orders and rules to the territory, one of the comments you hear sometimes is that, after a while, the intervention is common and right for the society. I take that as a true compromise.
Q: We are surrounded 24 hours a day by spaces that have been designed and built by architects. Having this responsibility means that architects are, in some ways, able to mold people’s behavior and well-being. is this something you think about when you are working on a project? 
JS: Architecture is not only answers to the program or the demand, but responses to something else. In my opinion, if we are responsible, an architect can always give more that what they’re asked for. Attributing those additions to the project generally creates good architecture.

Q: what is your firm currently working on?
JS: Right now we are working on housing projects in Spain, which is quite interesting because we are not used to working with smaller scale projects. In the meantime, we are also opening a new office in Switzerland, where I give classes at the university. We just won a competition in Ticino, Switzerland and it’s quite an exciting experience!

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