Joaquín Torres is one of the most avant-garde architects in the world and we had the pleasure of interviewing him to review some of the stellar moments of his career and explain the challenges that modern architecture faces. His first intervention is, rather, a full-fledged claim: “It is essential to remember the importance of architecture in these times in which the figure of the architect has lost the relevance of yesteryear, when he was one of the most recognized social figures and respected”. The fault of the loss of prestige, according to Torres, “we have the architects themselves who, often, we have been able to trivialize our craft”.
Charismatic and gifted with enviable lucidity since he was a child, Joaquín Torres reviews, at 50 years of age, his youth and the steps that led him to become the artist he is today. “My father was a man with many artistic concerns and there was always a strong presence of art at home,” he recalls. “When you grow up in this environment, two things can happen: an artistic vocation arises, as was my case, or a radical rejection of the art world is generated, as happened with one of my brothers.”
Torres was born in Barcelona, although he studied Madrid when he was a restless and observant teenager. Their story is somewhat different from that of many young people who fly out of the nest to find their calling and, along the way, find themselves. “I had come from studying at the French Lyceum, the most“ progressive ”school in Madrid, and I went to Pamplona to study architecture at Opus Dei. In other words, while most young people suffer a period of liberation when they go to university, I found myself immersed in an oppressive system whose values I did not share at all ”. Despite this experience, he emphasizes the importance of young people packing their bags: “When one begins to train, one must move away from the family nucleus. I encourage young people to cut the umbilical cord and venture to discover life far from family protection”.
Leaving Pamplona behind, Joaquín Torres finished his degree in A Coruña, where he finally found the path that he would never abandon again. It was 1996, although he received proposals to return to Madrid, he decided to stay in Galicia and found, together with Rafael Llamazares and Alberto Peris, the architecture studio that, without them suspecting it, would end up becoming an international benchmark: A-Cero.
Asked about the origin of the name of the study, Joaquín Torres explains with amusement: “Several factors came together. On the one hand, there was the thing that at that time, when you needed an architect, you didn’t look for him on the Internet, like now, but in the Yellow Pages. We decided that we needed a name beginning with the letter A to appear at the top of the directory. On the other hand, there was the play on words: steel as a material and the dimension of Din-A0 paper ”. But he still adds another interpretation: “When we started the study, we were nobody, a zero to the left. So the name seemed appropriate. It reminds us of where we come from, which is nothingness, and it helps all young entrepreneurs to remind them that they start from scratch and how far they go depends on the work of each one ”.
Over time, Joaquín Torres has earned the nickname of The Architect of the Famous. His clients include representatives from the world of politics (such as Felipe González, who he affirms that “he contributed to Spain making a radical change towards modernity”), the business sector (such as Amancio Ortega) and countless footballers: Ronaldo, Zidane , Fernando Torres… He remembers the latter with special affection: “Fernando was 19 years old when we met, he was an exceptional young man who began to have a brutal success that was very difficult to manage at that age. He commissioned me to build a house at La Finca, in Madrid, since he knew that I had designed the houses of many of his colleagues. Imagine, with 19 years in front of me, that I was all vitality and I ate it, the poor man did not know how to ask me what he wanted. When I finished his house, the footballer was already married with a son. It was a very beautiful story, seeing how a boy became a man and started a family. It was very enriching, I learned that there is nothing fixed or certain in the world, but that everything is changing. There are no absolute truths. How many houses have I built for couples who have separated afterwards! ”.
Text: Alex Merino Aspiazu
Until here the first part of this interesting interview with the prestigious architect Joaquín Torres. In the next installment we will discuss the relevance of architecture to the new reality: Challenges to face and future prospects.
Here you can see the full interview: