Interview with Gonzalo Pardo D&A What have the culture that you have grown up in, as well as your architectural education, taught you about light? GP Growing up in a country like Spain gives you some consciousness of light, that is to say you are aware of the way it changes. Throughout the year, the seasons and the days, light never is the same. However, it is the teachers at the school of architecture who imbue us with an understanding of the need to work with light and take advantage of its potential. Not only by taking it in account in projects but also by working with it as a parameter that has a critical influence on the organisation and construction of an entire building. It’s a real challenge. D&A Have you yourself come across any properties of light that have had a particular influence on your work? GP Now I’m interested in working with light as a material, like brick or concrete, and exploring its possibilities. I think that in every project, light should be allowed to change the perception of place through a rich variety of spatial conditions and contrasts, i.e. through dualities like dark vs light, public vs private, open vs close, interior vs exterior or high vs low, lightness vs massive. D&A What changes do you predict for the 21st century both in the way humans use light, and in the balance between daylight and artificial light? GP I think that right now, daylight and artificial light have the same importance. New technologies allow the recreation of daylight atmospheres with artificial systems. This is important because in the future, this kind of development could change the form of buildings and generate a new thinking in how to use space.
D&A In your project for the International VELUX award, you create an architectural field with highly varied spatial and lighting situations. In your opinion, has architecture begun to offer the user more varied, nonstandardised solutions recently? And what aspects does this quest for variation include: form, colour, proportions of spaces, combination of uses, and/or light? GP The aim of my project and of the investigation related to it is the creation of complexity, both in terms of space and light. The reading place is a three-dimensional network, not a building; so the work process was focused mainly on the generation of this space through different working models. In this process, the organisational configurations were originally more important than formal solutions. These different configurations allowed a variation of forms, colours and proportions in one single day by working with light. For me, only concepts should remain: the attraction of architecture is the ability of an idea, when it is linked to concepts and not to forms, to acquire diverse formalisations. The challenge in my project was to create something from light as a material. D&A But it is the balance of light and shadow that plays a major role in your project, not just light itself. Is this rooted somehow in your personal experience? Is there a lack of public spaces with balanced lighting/ shade in your local environment? GP I think that the concept of light means not just light itself – I believe it is also linked to other words like shadow, textures, reflections, massive, static, coloured, and so forth. In my award project, I chose to work intensely with the contrast of light and shadow. The theme of light allowed me
D&A spring 2007 Issue 05
Gonzalo Pardo lives and works in Madrid, where he is working on his final examination project at the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM). He also works as a teacher at ETSAM, financed by a two-year grant, and takes part in competitions as well as working on his own projects.
to imagine a system of abstract rules that regulate the decisions and actions in the whole design process. The result was a space full of different lights and different perceptions: a place for reading from light and perception. D&A Kengo Kuma, a member of the award jury, said in an interview: “Material and natural light are one thing.” Would you agree, and what consequences does this observation have for your own work? GP I absolutely agree. In my project, I worked with materials and natural light using the space that a tree generates around it, its field. The tree, especially when it is linked to other trees, offers the privacy that the act of reading needs. A strict relation between the person, the book and what surrounds them is established. The result is a new, continuous landscape full of light-emitting columns that organise the space. These columns will influence the game of looking and not being looked at, allowing for the kind of individuality that the act of reading needs. The topography of the project spatially organises the reading place, whereas its structure reconstructs the forest.