Juan Socas graduated from the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura de Sevilla, and is presently Assistant Professor at the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture de Lyon.
He has worked in Porto, in 2008 with Alvaro Siza. He has taken a great part of his career in the effort of Ideas Competitions, earning First Prize in Mercado de abastos de San Pedro de Alcantara. Malaga; First Prize in the Revitalization of Barrios Bajo y Alto de Sanlucar de Barrameda Competition, in Cadiz; First Prize in the Partque Metropolitano Palmoes en Algeciras Competition, in Cadiz; as well as Finalist in many others.
He has been on architectural missions to Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Estonia and India. Presently his professional activity is being developed in Grenoble, France.
How would you introduce you and your studio to our readers?
I am a artisan from Architecture.
Do you have any specific method to approach each new project?
Having been involved in projects of different scales and themes makes me approach them always differently. Personally, I believe the site to be of great importance, but the methodology also changes regarding the type of work: if this is a personal commision, I try to get to know the client before starting to design; if it is a competition we take a bolder approach and try to make a conceptually strong project; if we are working on landscape I study all I can about the ecosystem of the intervention location; in a urban planning project I try listen and learn from the inhabitants and different actors of the city, as also integrate them in the project stage..
Do you have a particular visual language or material palette?
When working alone, the concept of visual economy becomes very important. If things are simple and also drawn easily, everything is easier.
In your point of view, what should be the role of architecture or architects in society?
The architect is always being reinvented. Our society also changes, lately at a furious pace, in an unequal way across different countries. So, I think it is very difficult to precise what is the role of the architect in our society today. Each architect invents a new way how to live the profession and how it should be, and it is good that way.
Presently, my educational activity takes place in the ENSA of Lyon and focuses on "Activist Urbanism" with Itziar Gonzalez, and the "Contiguity in Architecture" with Chantal Dugave.
I THINK IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO PRECISE WHAT IS
THE ROLE OF THE ARCHITECT IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY.
EACH ARCHITECT INVENTS A NEW WAY HOW TO LIVE
THE PROFESSION [...] AND IT IS GOOD THAT WAY.
Are there any other architects whose work inspires you? Were there any other architects that have influenced you earlier in your career?
I was lucky enough to work in the beginning of my career with Alvaro Siza, obviously he is a reference for me. Although, I think more of his understanding of an architectural office, which is mainly practical. I respect and admire him too much to try to recreate their formal gestures, though.
Can you point out any recurring theme that brings all of your projects together?
The affection with which they are made, each and every one of them.
What is the most motivating project you are developing presently?
My daughter Lilia.
What would you recommend to younger professionals?
I'm a young professional also, the only tips I can humbly give are to fail again and again, in order to better learn how to design. Also, always keep an open and absorbent brain.
Your professional experience has greatly revolved around the participation on Architecture Competitions. What is your opinion on Ideas Competitions on the development of the professional practice?
The anonymous architecture competition is, in my opinion, the most democratic mechanism for awarding public projects. Furthermore, they are good exercise for the brain of the architect.
THE ANONYMOUS ARCHITECTURE COMPETITION
IS THE MOST DEMOCRATIC MECHANISM FOR
AWARDING PUBLIC PROJECTS.
How do you feel the Pool Promenade would impact the riverfront of Porto?
What are you expecting from participants to bring to this competition?
When I lived in Porto there was a time when I happily shared a house downtown with two architects who I appreciate very much, Saurab Malpani and Mathias Heskamp who also worked for Álvaro Siza.
I enjoyed to sometimes walk home from work; from the office in Rua do Aleixo towards the city centre, passing under Arrábida Bridge, Alfandega building until the Ribeira Square. Just beside Ponte Luis I, climbed the Guindais Steps just beside the Funicular. It is a neighborhood that I know well and is to me very dear.
Participants in the competition have a big challenge ahead. ■
Find more about his work here.
He is also part of the internationally selected judging team
by Ctrl+Space for the Porto Pool Promenade Competition