Alberto Campo Baeza interview
“I have a special love for this marble, very white, from
He was born in Valladolid (Spain), but grew up in Cádiz (Spain). His father was surgeon and from him, he has inherited his analytical spirit. From his mother, he took the decision of being an architect, as his grandfather. Alberto Campo Baeza (1942) has just received the National Architecture Prize. He graduated from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in 1971 and, in 1982, he got there his doctoral studies. Since that time, he lives in the Spanish capital and combines his career as an architect with teaching. He is Projects’ professor in the Escuela de Arquitectura of Madrid, and he has also taught in more than ten international universities. He writes about architecture and is a poetry admirer. His works have a great recognition. Among them, stand out Casa del Infinito (Cádiz, 2014), the public space Entre Catedrales (Cádiz, 2009), the Olnick Spanu house (Garrison, New York, 2008), the Andalusian Memory museum, (Granada, 2010), a childcare for Benetton (Treviso, Italy, 2007), the bank headquarters of Caja Granada (Granada, 2001), Casa De Blass (Madrid, 2000), and Casa Gaspar (Cádiz, 1992).
He says that light is his most important material, and the stone is present in several of his works. For him, architecture is ineffable.
Architecture like medicine, is a discipline that works to improve people’s quality of life. What are the principles which your architecture is based on for contributing to this end?
Reason, logic, economy of means, beaty, are some of the principles which all architecture should be sustained on. Better than me, Vitrubio mentions: UTILITAS,FIRMITAS and VENUSTAS.
I would say that you are a ‘selective’ architect. Despite of the fact you have a wide experience, you have carried out 45 works. What has to have a project or client to be interesting for you and getting your attention? By contrast, what may cause the project being rejected?
All projects interest me. I have a 9×6 meters house in Canary Islands on my desk. But I must confess that I would like to build a skyscraper in Manhattan! I reject the projects from clients who are irrational.
You have commented that “in the same way that memory is the first instrument, light is the most important material, the most luxurious one”. Which others materials are also an essential part of your work? What place does natural stone figure into it?
Materials are chosen with each different project. I have used all the materials. I have used natural stone many times, always, with very good results.
You are Project’s professor at Escuela de Arquitectura of Madrid and teach in more than ten international universities. Do you think that there exist a good materials’ education in Spain? What are the differences compared to the rest of the universities where you have taught?
Kenneth Frampton says that Escuela de Arquitectura of Madrid is the best of the world (and we made him Doctor Honoris Causa). The education is very wide, also regarding with materials. It is not very different compared to the others schools where I have taught, including the UPC of Barcelona, which is great. This year I will teach Projects in the prestigious NYIT of New York.
Do you consider interesting to include a specific course about natural stone, taking into account its characteristics? Why?
It is not necessary because the professors, all of them, always talk about stone very well. The Rome Pantheon is made of stone, but also the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe. The most antique and the most contemporary.
In your text «Socializar el suelo o morir», you raise the problem that young architects find because of a bad work organization; it is very badly distributed and they are a lot. Taking into account that the problem is out of their control, what would you recommend them -not only as a professor, but also as an architect- to change this and creating a different future for the next generations?
The colleges of architects should deal with these social issues to divide the work among everyone in a rational way, and defend architecture in a so ignorant and uneducated society. They should defend the young generations that are highly educated.
The Macael Marble Brand’s DNA is in some of your singular projects. It’s in the Andalusian Memory museum and in the public space Entre Catedrales. What does the Macael’s local stone, the Blanco Macael marble, represent?
In 1978, after earning the architecture competition, I made the Almería’s Cathedral square with Blanco Macael marble cobblestones. Nevado, from Almería, made it perfectly. After that, I made the Fene’s Council pavements in 1980, and the Jesús del Pozo’s store, located in Madrid, in 1988. I pass by there every day. In 2009, I made the space Entre Catedrales in Cadiz, also with Macael cobblestones, and the Andalusian Memory museum. I have a special love for this marble, very white, from Macael.
Natural stone will never be something fashionable, because it has been always a constant in architecture. It has got adapted to each civilization and, each different time and architectural style have understood it in a different way. Currently, its applications are endless thanks to the technological advances. From your point of view as an architect and professor that knows the material, what do you think that stone gives a project compared to another one that has not included it?
Stone is neither antique nor modern. It gives always something as important as the permanence through time.
As a recommendation to the Macael Marble Brand companies, which are dedicated to full project services and collaborate with architecture and interior design professionals. Which should be their business model?
They should be more at the architects’ service. Technologically, they should be at the forefront and, economically, being accessible. The architects, all of them, also the most advanced, stand on the side of stone.
Discover more interviews and natural stone projects in our magazine Mármol/Architecture & Design.