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DRAA: ‘Collaboration in architecture is fundamental’


Who are you? 

Nicolas del Rio, the director of an architecture office called DRAA. I studied architecture at PUC Chile, having done an undergrad exchange programme at Politecnico di Milano and a MSc in Sustainable Building at Oxford Brookes University, in Oxford UK. I teach in Universities in Chile.

Where are you based?

We are based in Santiago de Chile, and recently have opened a studio in Berlin, Germany.

Where do you come from?

I was born in Santiago de Chile.  

Why did you become architects?

I had an early contact with architecture, with my father being an architect as well. As a boy I spent much time in the mountains, finding inspiration in the diverse ways of sheltering. 

What kind of work do you do?

I have worked in several scales, from housing developments, industrial projects to interior design. We have a mainly worked in projects in strong contact to nature though.

What’s it like being an architect where you are?

Chile has had in the recent decades a steep curve towards modernisation, which undoubtedly has affected the profession of architecture. We are at a stage where the public welfare and public investment is regaining the centre of attention, but there is some social confusion as to the real role the architecture has.

La leonora mountain retreat

The La Leonora Mountain Retreat, the result of extensive collaboration with the clients

What are you interested in?

In relation to the office I am interested in consolidating the staff of people we have come to be. I believe collaboration in architecture is fundamental, and you can’t aim to maintain quality results without a good team. Personally I am very exited with the construction of my own mountain hideaway in the woods of southern Chile, a sort of personal testing ground of several things gathered up to now.

What is unique about your work?

I would like to say the feeling of timelessness a work must have. I find much amusement in architecture from diverse eras and backgrounds that results from a fear of the obsolescence of trends.

How do you get ideas?

From a simple life, being alert to the most simple, nice things. And insomnia.

What are your favourite design tools?

I can’t replace hand drawing in early stages and feel very comfortable in 2D drawings. I am not too skilled in catching up with the latest of the latest. I work with people with a gift for modelling in 3D and physical, which help us testing ideas.

What would be your ideal project?

A holistic approach to a series of site museums, which convey educational and exhibition aspects.  

What do you want to be remembered for? 

That’s a tricky one. I’m not thinking of being remembered yet.  

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