INHABITING THE ESSENCE
It is said that human ingenuity helps us overcome the times of crisis. RUBÉN MUEDRA ESTUDIO DE ARQUITECTURA must have had a healthy dose of this ingenuity to be able to survive the always difficult initial stages. This firm, established at the start of the largest most recent economic crisis, not only managed to weather the elements but also emerged triumphantly, having become one of the most influential architectural firms in the Community of Valencia.
If ingenuity is the cornerstone of this path to success, then talent, passion, and hard work represent the strong foundations that are engraved with the premise to offer all clients “Responsible, creative, free, and honest” Architecture.
Responsible with the environment and with the economy of means.
Creative and concerned about moving out of the comfort zone.
Free of restraints, trends, and prejudices, therefore allowing them to make each project unique and personal.
Honest and respectful with the elements that compose the works, in search of constructive sincerity.
There are architects who build with light. There are those who construct their theoretical discourse around materialism. Today´s society, having consciously plunged into the digital era, is swimming in an abyss of architectural magazines abounding in aesthetics (Vitruvian venustas) that at times lead to collateral damage affecting function (utilitas).
Rubén Muedra is not an architect of trends. He is an architect of essences. The essence understood as that which constitutes the very nature of things, imperishable and unfading.
His architectural structures, of purified aesthetics, at first sight often appear to be brimming with structural whims or random aspects. Nevertheless, when we perform the architectural autopsy on them and begin to take them apart, we discover that these seemingly random whims are an amalgam of complex answers to the project´s determining factors. Nothing is the result of chance, even though things just seem to accidently appear.
He possesses, therefore, the rare ability to transform something that is exceedingly complex into a visually straightforward element (but not simple), where the avalanche of nuances seems to tell us that the final result could not have been any other.
Such is the case with the Brise Soleil House, where the formalism of the façade- a priori arbitrarily faceted- reveals itself as the necessary answer to regulate the entrance of natural light in each of the interior spaces of the house.
This also occurs with the “Casa Concreto” (Concrete House), whose brutalist aspect is created by its exposed concrete façade. The forefront contains very few hollows that have been placed with a surgical precision to open up specific interior areas. This house is consciously introverted in a markedly urban setting.
Or the “Casa Nobel” (Nobel House), where the trays of the façade appear to be structural whims. After a careful analysis, however, they reveal the inclinations and altitudes that are needed to control the interior light year-round. The positioning of these elements also provides a variety of views from differing standpoints, whether the person is standing up, sitting down, or even lying on the bed.
Take the “Casa de la Duna” (Dune House), for instance, where the final essence of the Project is without a doubt its setting. The intervention, therefore, strives to minimize its impact on the surroundings by creating hollows that appear to be frames decorating the walls. These frames enclose no other than the changing landscapes of the natural scenery.
In view of the sample of works included in this book- a vast collection despite the firm´s youth, one might say that it is lacking its own recognizable style that encompasses all of the projects under the same aesthetic pattern, a recurring trend among other architects.
But when each project is carried out based on the very essence of the subject, and it is nourished by its primordial determinants, there cannot be one singular aesthetic value. Is it not true that each client has his or her own needs and aesthetic values? Is it not true that each project exists in a unique and distinct setting? A uniform response makes no sense when one house is set next to the sea and the other is in the middle of an urban setting. Offering typological solutions by creating the same hollows in each building is a waste (or excess) of the contextual elements. The same occurs with the materializing of the building envelopes. A proposal that does not take the natural surroundings into account is neglecting one of the main sources of information for the project. A project that does not take into account the client´s specific needs is essentially forgetting what Architecture is or ought to be—anthropometric art. Sculptures that have been created to be lived in and tailor made for the human being.
The firm of Rubén Muedra knows this, and they are able to capture the essence of elements while providing the client with a space meant to be inhabited, lived in and enjoyed, fully adapted to the needs of the client and of the setting, thereby giving rise to a respectful and courageous solution. Capable of creating a longitudinal Project with displaced parallel walls (Casa Tangente) as well as creating a structure by means of a solid cubic volume characterized by meticulously hollowed-out spaces (Casa Grace). Likewise, the combination of the interiors made of wood, stone, and other natural materials (Casa Cruz) and the materialization of spaces so pure that they even conceal the illumination to only allow for the addition of white and glass, as if for fear of interrupting the immaculate combination (Casa Buganvilla).
This is the connecting thread of his Architecture, the common denominator of all projects. Far from being a formal or material aspect, the pattern that is present in all of his architectural structures is the rigor for detail and the capacity to adapt and understand what is superfluous and what is essential for each project. He distills the elements with such rigor and precision until he reaches something of such immense complexity composed of countless factors that, to the user´s eye, appears to be decidedly simple.
Given the fact that he is not an architect of trends, he neither claims nor desires to be functionalist, postmodern or even minimalist. Rather, as Alberto Campo Baeza explains, he is an essentialist of poetic rigor who uses only those elements that are strictly necessary and nothing else (omit needless words).
Thus, and only thus, does each project create a whimsical reply to each unique set of initial conditions. A simple whimsical reply which is as complex as it is to Inhabit the Essence.
Raúl García García