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AR_EA Spain: Izaskun Chinchilla Architects

‘We want to influence a new generation of architects who are socially and environmentally sensitive’

Who are you?
I am the principal of a practice that teams up with sociologists, engineers, experts in public engagement, fundraising, communication and the environment, among others.

Where are you based?
In Madrid. We also have a working space at the Bartlett.

Why did you become an architect?
The inclination for innovation and an early passion for establishing connections between social and scientific thinking motivated me.

What kind of work do you do?
We get commissions from competitions and research, and public engagement open-funding programmes. Our highest-budget project was the refurbishment of Garcimuñoz Castle (€3 million), but many of our commissions have small budgets. We love to work for public clients and in public spaces - we feel more people then benefit from our work.

What is it like being an architect where you are?
Contexts vary but the main challenges are to make compatible non-independent and independent work, get funding, articulate participation and innovate to provide social and ecological benefits.

What is the context in which you are working?
First, the Spanish recession forced us to be critical and strategic with funding. Second, Spanish versus European architectural culture: in Spain the official architectural culture is reluctant to change. Third, the relationship with international institutions dedicated to innovation, especially the Bartlett.


Resembling a giant flower bouquet, Organic Growth was constructed in New York City from recycled umbrellas, tripods and bicycle wheels.

What inspires you these days?
Nature, vernacular and popular architecture full of collective intelligence, South America and South-East Asia, digital innovation, workshops and making spaces.

What project are you most proud of and why?
Organic Growth because it won an open international competition (City of Dreams, 2015), it was funded through crowdfunding and we got all materials from recycling.

What is your favourite building material or technique?
Using recycled material that can be dismantled and used elsewhere.

Where do you hope to go from here?
We want to influence a new generation of architects who are socially and environmentally sensitive, who have a strong engagement with innovation.

What do you want to be remembered for?
The promotion of human values in architecture.

Lead Image

The Peaceful Valley, a gymnasium in Daegu, South Korea, was designed to emphasise outdoor areas and courts to encourage the gathering of people and social integration

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